With the stress of Hurricane Irma, I decided to find a new distraction to keep my mind off of the hurricane madness. Since my employment with Extension I have heard many recommendations for the SuperTracker on the choosemyplate.gov website. I’ve tried a lot of food apps like Fooducate and MyFitnessPal, so I shrugged the SuperTracker off thinking it was just another way to count calories. I was very wrong. The SuperTracker is a free online diet and activity tracking tool developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The “app” is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and uses the USDA Food Composition Database to determine nutrient profiles for foods. The app has daily food group targets based on your SuperTracker plan (i.e. maintain weight or reach a goal weight), which you set when you create a profile. This database is full of perks to help you make healthier decisions.
After creating a profile, the SuperTracker gives you the option to activate My Coach Center, where you can set up to five personal goals. These goals range from setting a goal weight, participating in more physical activity per week, consuming a certain amount of calories, consuming the recommended amount of food groups per day, and consuming certain nutrients per day. I selected four personal goals which were to meet a certain weight, participate in at least 180 minutes of exercise per week, and to meet the food group targets for fruits and vegetables. The My Coach Center sends daily messages to motivate you to meet your selected goals.
Another perk to the SuperTracker is logging your daily food intake. This helps you to see if you are meeting the daily recommended amounts of each food group, the amount of added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium you consume daily, and provides a nutrient intake report. It also shows you if you are over, under, or OK on your daily nutrients. I love the nutrient intake report because it helps me be mindful of the foods I’m eating and consider what foods I may need to have more or less of. When logging meals, you can create combo meals, such as your daily coffee with milk or cream if you choose, and create recipes if you have favorite meals you eat regularly. You can add foods to “My Favorite Foods” to access them more quickly, customize foods that may not be in the database, and copy meals from one day to the next. The SuperTracker is very user friendly. It even makes sample meal plans for your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
The SuperTracker is also loaded with resources to help inform users about healthy habits. Links to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, USDA Mixing Bowl (a recipe database), and more are located at the bottom of the page. The tracker explains weight management, provides a body weight planner link from the National Institutes of Health, and provides tips on each of the five food groups. There is even a group feature to help organizations challenge and encourage one another to live a healthy lifestyle.
I hope this encourages you to take a look at the SuperTracker. It’s mobile friendly, so you can even log your foods right from your phone. I would like to see a feature to log water intake and a label reading feature similar to MyFitnessPal. However, the food database in the SuperTracker is a more accurate nutrient representation than MyFitnessPal because it is linked to the USDA food database. If you have any questions or need assistance with the SuperTracker, feel free to give me a call. I would be happy to go over the database with you. After looking through the SuperTracker, I’m excited to plan some challenges for the county soon!
Sydney Johnson is an Area Family & Consumer Sciences Extension agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. She can be reached by calling the Sampson County Center at 910-592-7161 or by e-mail: Sydney_Johnson@ncsu.edu