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by Lindsey Westbrook
Dietetic Intern
Web site provides effective monitoring

For those who may wonder how many calories they consume in a day or need help planning healthy meals, check out the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for help.
The USDA provides a way to effectively monitor nutritional intake, plan healthy menus and gather healthy diet tips through an easy-to-use Web site. By going to, you find ways to help you lead a more healthy life through diet. Setting up a user account is easy and free, and once your account is created you can easily keep track of your caloric intake, energy expenditure and exercise patterns. Since all data are entered online, your information is accessible wherever a computer is available, which makes it easy to keep track of your nutrition and physical activity whether at work or home.
One of the many advantages of this Web site is the ability to track caloric intake. By typing in your height and weight and exercise regimen, you can calculate your personal caloric needs for the day. This calculation is based on foods you have entered, which helps provide a better idea of how many calories you actually are consuming daily. Being knowledgeable about your daily calories is essential to maintaining a healthy weight.
Besides helping the user track daily food and beverage intake, it also provides a colorful look at the servings of fruits and vegetables, grains, meats, and milk provided in your meals.
The USDA site also enables the user to plan healthy meals through the Menu Planner application. The benefit of this feature is that it allows you to plan meals and make substitutions to ensure that you are consuming appropriate servings of all major food groups while watching calorie counts. It is easy to plan meals on a daily or weekly basis using the Menu Planner, and it gives you a head start when it’s meal time.
The tools provided in this service will help assess your menu choices and provide tips to becoming healthier by offering better, and still tasty, alternatives in each food group.
The USDA site also will generate a report based on food choices you have made and reported online for the day or week. Reviewing your daily and weekly reports helps your assess the part of your diet needs improvement.
MyPyramid promotes individuality, taking into the reality that everyone is different and has different requirements to obtain good health and sustain energy.

Friday, Oct. 24, 2008

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.