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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

USDA Supertracker -Our Third Week of Tracking Nutrition & Physical Activity

My husband and I are on the third week of using the USDA online tool Supertracker to monitor our daily nutrition intake and physical activity.

We have begun to change our eating habits. For example, I am eating more fruit and drinking more milk to get calcium and potassium.
Unsalted unbuttered air popped popcorn has been re-discovered as a whole grain. Meat consumption has decreased. Cocoa powder is not as tasty as the chocolate in store bought chocolate milk. But another source of high fructose corn syrup no longer is in our fridge.

It is a good thing I am using this as a lifestyle tool, not with a goal to lose weight. My weight has stayed the same despite sticking to overall calories and having a great physical activity report. So, although I would like to lose 10 pounds, I will have to look at other factors, as sleep quality.

As noted in a previous post, I am going to be looking into vegan nutrient sources to replace some of my dairy and meat.

Some thoughts on the pros and cons of Supertracker.


  • One place to go for tracking both nutrition and physical activity
  • Easy to use.  food and activity selections are made by entering a word or phrase and then selecting from the resultant options
  • Throughout the day one can monitor levels of consumed fats, oils, calories, nutrients as well as see how one’s food choices stack against daily food targets.
  • Entered foods can be modified (as portion size) or deleted. This is a great decision making tool, including snack options later in the day.
  • One can opt for calorie allotment based on previous week’s physical activity


  • Does not include all foods (especially convenience/packaged foods)
  • When entering homemade,  you are probably best off entering ingredients individually.  USDA food options having several ingredients tend to be convenience/packaged which are are high in sodium.
  • Physical activity tracker seems to be a work in progress. For example, the range of weight lifting activities seems to be sparse.
  • Physical activity options are “canned”. They do not allow for individual heart rates.
  • Long range reports can be done for data on individual nutrient levels. However overall long range reports for nutrition are only averages.
  • It does take time to enter one’s data!

November 14, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Lacto-Ovo and Vegan Information Included in USDA Dietary Guidelines

Three weeks ago my husband and I started using  USDA’s Supertracker in an effort to make changes to our eating and exercise patterns.
Our goal is to reach and maintain a  healthy weight range and reap the benefits of a good exercise program.
More on this in a later blog entry.

A three week report showed I was deficient in several nutrients. I went to the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines to look up foods that are highest in these nutrients (including potassium and choline).While going through the appendix I came across

  • Appendix 8- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Adaption of the USDA Food Patterns (p. 81 of the Guideline)
  • Appendix 9 – Vegan Adaption of the USDA Food Patterns (p. 82 of the Guideline)

The USDA Guidelines state “[t]hese vegetarian variations represent healthy eating patterns, but rely on fortified foods for some nutrients. In the vegan patterns especially, fortified foods provide much of the calcium and vitamin B12, and either fortified foods or supplements should be selected to provide adequate intake of these nutrients. ”

I am the first to admit I am not a nutritionist or expert in vegetarianism. So I would not be surprised if folks knowledgable in these areas would take issue with the USDA approach on fortified foods and/or the information in the appendix.
Still, this is giving me pause to at least consider  vegan “substitutes” for some meat and dairy.
And it is heartening that the USDA is starting to be a bit more inclusive in the guidelines, no matter what the intentions are.

On a related note, Planning Has Begun for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015.
According to the USDA announcement

The Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture are pleased to announce their intent to establish the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and to invite nominations for the DGAC. Nominations will be accepted until 6:00 pm EST, on Monday, November 26, 2012 to or via fax or postal mail as described in the Federal Register notice.

The DGAC is expected to convene five meetings, with the intent of the first in April 2013. The Committee’s recommendations and rationale will serve as a basis for the eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more and submit nominations, see the Federal Register notice.

Related Article

Is a Vegetarian Diet the Future of Food? by  on October 18, 2012
The evidence points to environmental costs and the effects of factory farming.

November 14, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | 1 Comment


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