On Monday, the USDA and HHS announced the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. We here at ShopWell are excited by this focus on nutrition. We take guidelines like these seriously and incorporate them into our site, making them actionable. So take a moment and ask yourself: am I doing all I can to stay healthy?

If not, here are some great ways to use ShopWell to get you started making dietary changes today.

Calories in should equal calories out:

PNLTo maintain a healthy weight, it is helpful to know how many calories you burn each day, so you can know how many calories you should take in.

Use ShopWell to help you get a sense of your calorie needs with our calorie calculator. Simply, enter your age, height, weight, and exercise level into the form when you sign up or when you click on "Personalize this Nutrition Label", and your calorie needs will be calculated for you. Hit "Save" and the top of the label of every product will give you a quick reminder of your calorie needs for the day.

Make sure you also look at the serving size and the amount of calories per serving when you are choosing foods to get a sense of how much of that food you can eat and still stay within your needs.

Eat nutrient dense foods, low in added sugar, sodium, and saturated fat:

Profile Let ShopWell do the screening for you. When filling out your profile click the things you want–like fiber, whole grains, and low sodium–and things you don't want–like added sugar, high saturated fat, and high sodium. The scoring system will then adjust to match you with foods that work for you and your individual needs.

Make sure to also look at the highlighting on the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list to see why a product may or may not work for you. Mouse over our "Stuff you want" and "Stuff you don't want" columns to enhance the highlighting and see which nutrients and ingredients match your preferences. This way you can understand why the food may or may not match your needs.


Eat whole foods:

Search Over the summer, ShopWell added in a variety of products using nutrition data from the USDA National Nutrient Database. These foods include whole fruits and vegetables, cuts of meats, fish, and seafood, as well as some nuts, legumes, and grains.

One tip to see these foods is to type 'USDA' into the search bar and sort by 'highest score'. Then you will be well on your way to finding whole foods that are right for       you. Remember, eat meats in small portions and get a         variety of fruit and vegetable colors each day.

Use lists as a food record and 'trade up' over time:

What I Eat Today

The most important part of any dietary change is monitoring your progress by keeping a record of the foods you are eating. Use ShopWell's sharable lists to help you keep track of the changes you are making. Make a meal list, make a recipe ingredient list, or even a favorite food list. Lists are a great way to get a snap shot of the foods you are eating and allow you to 'trade up' by trying new foods.

To start, make a list of all of the foods you are currently eating and save it as "What I Eat Today". Use the scoring system to choose a few foods to 'trade up'. For example, look at the list and click on a few red items. Sort through some "Similar Strong Matches" on the bottom of the page to see if you can find some alternatives that better match your needs. Then flip through the yellows and see if you can trade some of those foods up.

Remember, it is okay to have some yellows and a few reds on your list–unless of course they score 0 and marked with a hand indicating allergy or intolerance–but because yellows and particularly reds are less of a match for your needs, eat them in moderation (or sparingly).

Review your lists over time:

List From time to time, make a new list of the foods you are currently eating, so you can get a snap shot of the progress you are making. You can also email or print out your lists to get feedback from others. Dietary change can be difficult, but remember just making small changes can add up to big results over time.

So start today by setting one small goal. 

When you reach it, set another, then another. Before you know it you will be on your way to significant change. And don't forget to let us know how ShopWell is working for you!