Toni is a new member of the LZX team as of October, 2011. The following is her experience with the USDA’s new SuperTracker.
I’m 23 years old, and I could not be more excited to work for a company that focuses on nutrition education. It’s something I’m passionate about, but that I, like many others, need to be more conscious of. I don’t always eat right. Some of my absolute favorite foods are those I should be eating in moderation, but sometimes my taste buds just can’t help it.
Working here has really opened to my eyes to nutrition, and I certainly look at “MyPlate” differently. I recently went to the Doctor for a checkup and found out I have borderline high cholesterol! At 23, are you kidding me? Part of it is hereditary, but it opened my eyes to ways I might be contributing to the problem.
So, I was pretty excited to try out the USDA’s new SuperTracker online tool. It allows you to enter every meal you eat in a day and all of its contents. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks. It also allows you to enter your physical activity for the week. From it, the SuperTracker figures out your energy balance. It tells you how many minutes you need to be active in a day to maintain your current weight.
At first, I was skeptical to start my tracker over Christmas, but it was a great thing. My family and I added a healthy spin on our treats this year, and I actually didn’t do too badly!
The Super Tracker is super easy to use, and they have a wide variety of foods, so your meal plan can be very specific. It’s more accurate than I imagined, which really makes it easier to follow. It’s honest, and sometimes we need someone (something) to be honest with us in order for us to change our habits.
Once you begin using the tracker, you can create reports to see how well you’re doing. I printed mine today, and was quite surprised. Based on your weight, height, and age that you enter when you sign up, SuperTracker creates reports for you with your weekly averages and targets. Most of my nutrients were deemed ‘OK’ by the USDA’s SuperTracker, but one thing I did take note of is that my sodium intake is far greater than the target.
This really put things into perspective to me. I lost both my grandpa and my uncle this year due to heart related problems, and that’s the reason I went to the doctor in the first place. We have to take care of ourselves. If we don’t, who’s going to? Luckily, my parents instilled some healthy eating habits at a young age, but I need to be conscious of the decisions I make for myself as an adult.
For those of you wanting to do the same, this tool is a great way to start. It’s difficult to document every single food you eat unless you take good notes. It’s likely that you aren’t at a computer every time you consumer a food or beverage, so keep a little notebook with you. I jot down my entire intake for the day at work, and then enter my foods and activities for the day in the evening when I get home.
It’s only been a week, but it’s a perfect starting point. I suggest when you first use it, eat as you normally would and enter all of the truthful information into the SuperTracker. Print out the results for the first week, and use it as a base from which you can establish goals for yourself.
I have mine on my fridge, and I will track my progress each week I go on. I don’t expect myself to drastically cut out large parts of my diet, but I am making small changes at a time, and I know it will make a big difference in the long run.
I already notice a change in my instincts, and I’ve been reading nutrition labels more than I ever have. The Nutrients Report is so great, because it shows you what to look for! According to my report, I need less sodium and more fiber and potassium! So, those are the key things I look for when I go grocery shopping. I thought I’d start with those three and see how they go!
Visit the website to get started or to learn more about the USDA’s SuperTracker.