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    Pyramid Diet Secrets

    What are the best foods to reach a healthy weight?

    The Power of the Pyramid continued...

    The latest online version of the pyramid ­­-- -- is both interactive and customizable in two easy steps.

    • Step 1: Visitors to the web site can register and then fill in their own vital statistics -- height, weight, sex, and average physical activity level.
    • Step 2: The program then creates a personalized eating plan based on the precise number of calories required to maintain a healthy weight.

    "For the first time, the pyramid links calorie expenditure with calorie consumption," says Weaver.

    That's a crucial change. By following the pyramid, you can create an eating plan based on the foods you like, along with a sensible way to gradually shed unwanted pounds.

    Creating a Customized Eating Plan

    Meet Jeanette Doe, a hypothetical dieter. She's 35, 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds and, like most Americans, she spends fewer than 30 minutes exercising a day.

    Logging onto and clicking on "MyPyramid Plan," Jeanette enters her vital statistics. The program calculates that she needs about 2,000 calories a day to meet her current energy needs.

    To make sure those calories include the nutrition she needs, the program also calculates the ideal serving amounts from the five major food groups. In Jeanette's case: 6 ounces of grains, 2.5 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk, and 5.5 ounces of meat or beans.

    To translate those amounts into a satisfying menu, Jeanette can click on "MyPyramid Menu Planner" and enter particular foods she likes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

    With each entry, an online graphic shows how the item meets the recommended servings in each category. The program also keeps track of her calories. If MyPyramid indicates that her day's menu falls short on vegetable servings, she can add a side salad at lunch or another serving of vegetables at dinner. If it shows her overstepping her recommended calorie count, she can look for places to cut back.

    As an alternative for meal planning, MyPyramid also offers a week's worth of sample menus that total 2,000 calories a day and meet all the recommended amounts of grains, fruits, vegetables, plant oils, and other categories.

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