Move Over Weight Watchers, the New Pyramid is Here!

By Linsey Knerl on 10 March 2008 (Updated 18 August 2011) 8 comments
Photo: Beth Can

I would never dismiss any dieting or nutrition program that really works, and my goal is not to discredit commercial options that have worked for many. However, I get really jazzed when I can find comparable resources for free, especially when they have been provided by our government. Meet my newest ally in the fight against unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle – MyPyramid.gov .

While there is way too much information on the website to explain it all here, there are a few highlights that I am excited to share:

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  • My Pyramid Tracker is a detailed assessment of your daily eats and how you burn calories. This tool is one of the easiest to use. Simply select your foods from the list (search feature enabled), enter your portion number, and hit “analyze.” The tracker will tell you how your daily fare compares to the nutritional guidelines recommended for a person of your height, weight, and age. With one click of a button, I was able to see that I should be drinking an extra glass of milk, and that if I continue eating like I did at my son’s birthday party, I can expect a 1 pound weight gain per week!
  • In addition to the food log and nutritional analysis, there is an activity guide and assessment. By selecting the activities that you engage in each day, you can determine your average calorie burn and how it will affect your weight. (Note: When you first set up your profile, be sure to choose the condensed option. This option will guesstimate your base activity during the day, but will prevent you from having to record every time you stood up or walked to the bathroom.) I found it to be a fairly accurate way to track my activity, and it motivated me to squeeze in a little extra movement during my day. Not everyone will find their normal activities represented by the tracker; there were some interesting activities listed, including “butchering animals” and “cooking Indian bread on an outside stove.” Apparently these are calorie-burners….
  • The My Pyramid for Moms tool was highly educational, but completely practical. By basing nutritional needs on your age, pregnancy stage, or nursing demands, it can calculate caloric intake and offer a menu plan that is easy to implement into the lives of any momma! Special articles address vitamins, pregnancy weight gain, breastfeeding, and food safety.
  • My Pyramid Menu Planner offers the ability to build a meal plan down to the last detail and offers you the nutritional values of everything before you eat it. This is perfect for individuals who are hoping to tweak an existing meal plan to be more nutritious.

Overall, I was really impressed with the offerings of the My Pyramid website. One registration covers log-in at all the included sites. It is web-based, so you can use it from home or work. Most importantly, there are no clubs to join, meetings to attend, or credit cards to charge!

Rarely do I find that a free website offers the level of detail I want in a nutritional tool. I need customized plans, calorie counters, exercise logs, and a level of accountability. The MyPyramid.gov website offers all of that, and you won’t be required to weigh in weekly with a salesperson or attend support groups (if you don’t want to, that is.) The customized settings make for a fairly accurate representation of my caloric intake and needs. It gives me a chance to make small changes towards a better lifestyle, and it won’t yell at me if I eat two pieces of ice cream cake.

 

(A special thank you to Tina for sharing this resource with me!) 

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Guest's picture
Meg

I'd think twice before relying on the USDA's nutritional recommendations. The USDA was created to protect the interests of farmers, ranchers, and slaughter houses. They weren't created to help Americans be healthier. More milk? Hmmm, could that be because of all the DAIRY FARMERS on the committee?

The organization is one of the most biased political organizations that exists in our country today. Lobbyists they are; nutritional experts they are not.

Guest's picture
Erica

I love that their garage-cleaning activity is "excavating garage". Somebody's been to my house. ^^

Guest's picture
katy

I'm an old WW member and i quit because of the expense of meetings. Dottie's Weight Loss Zone, www.dwlz.com, will give you all the ww plans past/present, all the info, message boards. For free!

Linsey Knerl's picture

1) Lobby interests aside, I still maintain my position that this is a very useful tool.  When I mentioned an extra glass of milk, it is implied that I may also get my dairy/calcium through other easily-digestable means.  As someone who grew up in a very small farming  household, I'll be quick to point out that rarely were our "interests" defended to the point of altering public health programs.  Maybe for the big guys, but not for us.  (Besides, we grew up on good old goat milk!)

2) I read over the complete list of activities with some friends after a late night of board games and overeating.  We cracked up at some of the activities entries!  

3) Thanks for sharing DWLZ with us!  I had visitedyears ago, and had completely forgotten about how great a resource this is!

 

Thanks for the comments! 

 

Guest's picture
Deirdre

Diet-Blog.com has a nice list of mostly free online sensible (important criterion!) weight-loss and fitness sites

My personal favorite is SparkPeople.com

Guest's picture
Jen S.

OK, every time I come across a link to this page I see that food pyramid, and I wonder, "What is that item at the top of the pyramid?" A glob of cookie dough? Seriously, I can not make it out. Help?

That aside, thanks for the info. I currently use fitday.com to track this stuff but am always on the lookout for good online tools.

Guest's picture
Orange

As an individual who has lost 60 lbs and kept it off almost three years, I think weight watchers has the only weight loss provider out there that has the right attitude.

They promote healthy eating, exercising and not dieting.

To read more http://nodietneeded.net/

Linsey Knerl's picture

Congrats on your weight loss!  I certainly have nothing against WW -- I know plenty of people who have found it to work.  I just wanted to share for those who don't have the extra cash (or a WW in driving distance.)  Keep up the good work!

Linsey Knerl