April 28, 2009 in Features

Web sites map diet plans

Visitors can get nutritional, cooking tips for daily menus
Jeannine Stein Los Angeles Times

Here are resources to check out

EatRight.org, sponsored by the American Dietetic Association, offers extensive resources under “Food & Nutrition Information,” including tips for weight management (a tutorial on whole grains, 25 healthy snacks for kids), different eating plans for high blood pressure (emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables and low- or nonfat dairy products) and an explanation of the differences among dietary fats.

MyPyramid.gov, created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, offers more than that trusty food pyramid; there’s also a menu planner that allows you to calculate calories and fat and choose foods from various food groups. Choose a food, plug it into the planner, and you’ll get a calorie count and be able to see whether you’re meeting daily goals. You can also copy meal plans and send them to others.

Rd411.com, created by Nancy Collins, a past president of the Florida Dietetic Association, is geared to registered dietitians but has a wealth of practical consumer information about nutrition, obesity and weight control. It even offers sample menus, including ones for before and after your workouts. (For the former, try a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter; for the latter, consider 8 ounces of orange juice and two slices of bread.)

The road to diet hell is paved with books, all by authors firmly convinced of the inarguable perfection of their own eating plans.

And although detailed, customized menus may not be readily available at little or no cost, specific online examples can highlight what you need to look for in a meal. You’ll also find primers on nutrient-dense foods, good vs. bad fats, portion sizes and food labels.

Further, sites such as CalorieKing.com and TheCalorieCounter.com provide nutritional information on thousands of fresh and prepared foods. Look for foods that are not greatly processed and that are high in proteins or other nutrients and low in calories and saturated fats.

And keep in mind that some health insurance plans do cover visits with registered dietitians (individual consultations can be pricey), particularly if prescribed by a physician. They can not only outline daily eating plans, but also offer cooking tips and help you navigate food-laden social occasions. Beware of people who call themselves nutritionists – anyone can give themselves that title. Registered dietitians have extensive nutrition education and are credentialed.

Suzanne Bogert, a registered dietitian and project director of Network for a Healthy California, suggests this strategy for better nutrition: “When you lay your head on your pillow at night, ask yourself how many fruits and vegetables you ate, are you getting a wide variety of foods in your diet, are you connected with your hunger, and are you active? The ‘no’ answers are what you need to start working on.”

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email