The website is a well organized mass of information set up as basic introduction pages with links that further explain specifics of each category. Each food group (grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low fat dairy) is thoroughly explained with links to go further in detail as the user may choose. Each section is broken down first by definition, i.e. What is a Fruit?, followed by food examples, how many servings you need to eat, serving sizes, health benefits, specific nutrients, tips to make wise choices, and some recipes. The site is incredibly comprehensive with links revealing layers of information. However, non computer-savvy users may be overwhelmed by the amount of available information.
There is a section that allows the user to enter foods in a database for several different types of analysis. I entered my food intake for the day and could choose how I wanted my information displayed. I personally like the “Meeting Recommendations” section that let me know by simple emoticons how I scored for calorie and nutrient intake. Users may register for free, set up an account to track intake and physical activity for up to 12 months, and display the information in neat graphs. Another section lets the user know how they are doing with energy balance (calories in, physical activity, energy out). A seesaw-like visual depicts the balance of energy, storing weight with excessive intake or losing weight in a negative intake.
The site can even put together a specialized plan for you, based on your physical activity, food intake and healthy desirable goals. Special populations, including pregnant and breastfeeding moms, kids, and preschoolers are given attention, and additional links for more diet and health related topics are available.
Overall, I enjoy the site and anticipate that many Americans will benefit from the technological education material. The site is highly interactive, and children should access this site frequently, with or without supervision, depending on age and education level. Adults should familiarize themselves with the content and take advantage of the analysis programs available.
One concept missing regarding weight loss is how to go about losing weight safely while still maintaining proper vitamin and mineral intake. While an important concept that I think many Americans miss while on fad diets or severe calorie deprivation, this does not negatively impact my thoughts on this wonderful tool made available to a population in desperate need of help choosing healthier foods in healthier amounts.
If you have any other questions about MyPlate, or nutrition in general, please contact me at Anne@JointVenturesPT.com.