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Natalie Goldstein, Media Relations Manager: (720) 777-3970
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Media Relations

Cafeteria Changes Help Diners Make Healthy Choices

In observation of National Nutrition Month, Children’s Colorado has changed elements of our cafeteria, the Fresh Market Place, to help patients, families, visitors and employees make healthy choices. Here's some tips on how to navigate our cafeteria.

Stoplight Signage

In the Fresh Market Place, you may notice signs about Stoplight Signage. This is a color-coded system (like a traffic light) that divides food into three categories. Stoplight Signage helps people choose food that creates balanced meals and helps them say no to unhealthy, tempting foods. The hospital categorized food based on standards from the Children’s Hospital Association and a consortium of children’s hospitals. 

Green: these are “go” foods that Children’s Colorado suggests you eat daily. In general, these foods have fewer than 35% calories from sugar, fewer than 35% calories from fat, fewer than 10% calories from saturated fat, have no trans fat and are lower in calories and sodium.

Yellow: these are “sometimes” foods that have more calories, fat and sodium than green foods, but are not as unhealthy as red foods. Pair a yellow item with a green item for better nutrition.

Red: for greater health, eat these foods on rare occasion. These are foods that are high in calories, fat and sodium.

Visit the Light Side

The Light Side is a new station in the Fresh Market Place. Nutrition experts in the hospital created these balanced meals that cater to a variety of tastes. These meals follow the “green” standard.

Load up on veggies at the Salad Bar

At the salad bar, look for signs explaining how to make a healthy salad. Children’s Colorado recommends unlimited vegetables, healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil, olives), and no more than two high-fat items (cheeses and salad dressings). For a healthier dressing, choose fat-free dressing or olive oil and vinegar; use one of the two-ounce plastic cups to measure your dressing.

Kids Meals

The Fresh Marketplace now offers a healthy “Kids Meal” available at the grill. Included are breakfast options like eggs and pancakes, or lunches like a turkey sandwich. This meal meets the following criteria: fewer than 500 calories, includes fruit or vegetables, includes a serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy, has less than 600 mg of sodium and fewer than 35% calories from fat.

Go for the sushi

The Fresh Marketplace now sells sushi from local restaurant Blue Lagoon. The non-fried fish and veggie options can offer good nutrition. Limit the use of the high sodium soy sauce and instead try balsamic vinegar or wasabi.

Check out the new soups

The Fresh Marketplace makes its own soups, and now one of the daily options will have fewer calories and be lower in fat and sodium. Choose the eight-ounce bowl for portion control.

Choose your beverages carefully

Use the green label to help you choose your beverage (low-calorie or no calorie). Starting this month, the Fresh Marketplace will offer fruit-infused water (water is free if you bring your own cup).

At the Gelato and Coffee Bar

The hospital’s coffee bar offers all-natural smoothies that meet nutritional guidelines, and these can be a better alternative to unhealthy snacks. As for coffee, the best choice is plain, black coffee. If you add ingredients to your coffee, choose low-fat milk, sugar-free syrup and/or sugar substitutes. Tea is also a healthy option. At the Gelato Bar, choose sorbet for a lighter option.


The Fresh Marketplace offers green and yellow-labeled snacks, but remember to keep in mind portion size. Fresh fruits and vegetables also make a great snack option.

If you’re staying in the hospital

Any patient in the hospital may order room service from the Healthy Choice Menu. Food on this menu is lower in fat and is not fried. If you do not see a Healthy Choice Menu, ask a caregiver and they can easily supply one. Call 720-777-6232 if you have questions or would like to order room service (in many cases, patients may order room service in the outpatient setting; ask your caregiver for more information).

Children’s Colorado is continually refining the way it offers healthy choices to patients, visitors and employees, and they want to hear from you. If you have feedback you’d like to share, email