Quinn on Nutrition: Online nutrition tools

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

It was a tricky moment. I was sitting in a coffee shop ... pastry shop, actually. In walks a former patient who had come to me for weight management. As she walked to a table with her soda and donut, she pretended not to see me. I did the same. Awkward.

Guess we all need to pick and choose when and where we seek nutrition advice. And besides trained nutrition professionals, we now have a load of reliable tools at our fingertips. Here are a few offered through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other reliable agencies:

  • My Plate Plan: www.choosemyplate.gov/myplateplan . Fill in your age, sex, physical activity and goal weight. You'll get a personalized plan that shows you what and how much to eat that fits within your calorie goals.
  • Food Composition Database: ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/ This is the used by other databases for nutrient information on specific foods. Search for the complete nutrition profile of most any food or find food sources of specific nutrients. Very user friendly.
  • Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator: www.choosemyplate.gov/pregnanc … ight-gain-calculator. Enter your height and pre-pregnancy weight and you'll learn how much weight you should probably gain during pregnancy. This site also leads to other nutrition guidance for moms-to-be.
  • Can I Eat This? wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/apps-about.

Handy dandy for travelers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Select the country you're in and answer a few simple questions about what you're thinking about eating or drinking. This app will tell you if the food is likely to be safe and hopefully spare you too many international trips to the bathroom.

  • Evaluate Health Information: medlineplus.gov/evaluatinghealthinformation.html. Nutrition advice is only as good as the source. I just discovered this site from the National Institutes of Health. It features tutorials, videos and other tools to help us discern the reliability and credibility of health information from magazines (and newspapers), television and the internet.
  • Drink Size Calculator: www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.n … size-calculator.aspx. Do we really want to know how much of a "standard" drink is in one souvenir cup of beer at the ball game? This site can certainly help us rethink our drinking habits.
  • Dietary Supplement Label Database: www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/index.jsp. What's in all those supplements you take and how do they measure up with current dietary recommendations? This site is a joint effort by the Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Library of Medicine. Look up ingredients, products or manufacturers of everything from super body building formulas to vitamins and minerals for seniors.

And if I see you in the donut shop, it will be our little secret.

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