Online Tools for Healthy Choices

The ChooseMyPlate website, ChooseMyPlate.gov, includes a list of reliable online tools for making healthy choices:
www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-other-tools.

  • SuperTracker can help you plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity.
  • What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl is an interactive tool to help with healthy meal planning, cooking, recipes, and grocery shopping.
  • MyPlate Daily Checklist shows your food group targets—what and how much to eat within your calorie allowance. Your food plan is based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level.
  • ChooseMyPlate quizzes let you test and expand your knowledge about the MyPlate food groups and making healthy choices.
  • Portion Distortion quizzes you on changing portion sizes over the past 20 years and how much physical activity is required to burn off the extra calories provided by these larger portions.
  • Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator helps women determine suggested weight gain for pregnancy.
  • Preschool Growth Charts are online growth charts that you can personalize for your child.

Tracking for Health

“What gets measured, gets managed”—Peter Drucker, management consultant and author.
Weight loss is a common goal many people share. Research suggests that tracking what we eat and how much we move can help us reach and maintain a healthy weight. Apps can make this tracking easier and more fun.

Check out these apps to help you achieve your health goals:

MyFitness Pal—This is a free calorie-counting app with more than five million foods in the data base and featuring a bar-code scanner option for ease and accuracy in tracking food intake. Users are able to set goals and track progress toward daily intake targets. Recipes and videos are shared when users log in to track food intake. Myfitnesspal.com

Spend Smart. Eat Smart.—You can carry Spend Smart. Eat Smart. in the palm of your hand at the grocery store with the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. mobile app*. The app tools make shopping for healthy foods a breeze. Produce Basics helps you choose, clean, store, and prepare fresh vegetables and fruit with ease. The Recipe Finder helps you keep track of your favorite recipes from the website. The Unit Price Calculator compares products to help you find the best price. *The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app will be available soon. Watch the website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, and Facebook page for announcements about the release.

Dine Safe—This is a free app that allows users to identify restaurants that cater to allergies and restrictions using a sort menu that compares allergies to allergens in each menu. Dinesafeapp.com

Epicurious—This free app offers cooking tips, recipe collections, and holiday menus. Epicurious is adding original video and features a seasonal ingredients finder and smart kitchen timer. Epicurious.com

Reference: Akers, J. D., R. A. Cornett, J. S. Savla, K. P. Davy, and B. M. Davy. 2012. Daily self-monitoring of body weight, step count, fruit/vegetable intake and water consumption: A feasible and effective long-term weight loss maintenance approach. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 112 (5): 685–692,
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.01.022 (27 January 2017)

A New Face for Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

sses1-web-new-lookYou can choose healthy foods and stick to your budget—Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website is here to help!

Spend Smart. Eat Smart. has helped shoppers save money and make healthy choices for more than seven years. We are proud to announce a brand new design for the website that is more modern, simpler to navigate, and functional on all your devices.

Whether your goal is to eat healthier, plan your family’s meals, or save money at the grocery store, you can find tools to make it easier on Spend Smart. Eat Smart. The website is home to the following:

  • More than 150 recipes that are delicious, inexpensive, and easy to prepare
  • How-to videos featuring recipes, kitchen organization tips, and basic food-prep techniques
  • Strategies for saving money in each part of the grocery store
  • Meal-planning templates and resources

Visit the website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, today to connect with us through our blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

The Paleo Diet—A look at a popular eating plan

A popular trend making headlines is the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet, also called the “Caveman” or “Stone Age” diet. This diet is based on the belief that if we eat like our ancestors did 10,000 years ago, we’ll be healthier, lose weight, and have less disease. The table below compares the Paleo diet recommended intakes to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the typical Western diet.

Paleo Diet Chart

The Paleo diet promotes a higher intake of protein and fat. The carbohydrates included with the Paleo diet are not from grains, but rather from fruits and vegetables (not including white potatoes or dry beans). The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends eating carbohydrates from grains, fruits, dairy, and starchy vegetables. Excluding key food groups like dairy and grains makes it likely that key vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D, will be missing. Decreasing the intakes of added sugar and process foods have health benefits; however, there is no scientific evidences showing the Paleo diet prevents disease.steak and vegetables

Since the Paleo diet omits foods from different food groups (e.g., dairy, peanuts, legumes, cereal grains), its long-term sustainability is questionable. We live in a society where it is not possible to eat exactly as our ancestors ate. You might consider a modified Paleo eating plan like lowering your intake of added sugars and processed foods while eating more fruits and vegetables. Balance is best whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or stay just as you are. For more information, visit Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Jan 2015, and http://www.webmd.com/diet/paleo-diet?page=2.

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