The Internet abounds with an amazing amount of high-quality food, nutrition and health information. The trick is, you have to know where to find the quality information. Below is a list of some of my favorite Web sites; perhaps this information will be a helpful resource to you, as well.
If you have questions about fueling for exercise, The Australian Institute of Sport (whose mission is to help educate Olympic athletes and coaches) offers abundant sports nutrition information. You can find out how to fuel for your particular sport (rugby, rowing, running, triathlon, etc.), as well as get answers to your questions about a variety of sports supplements from energy bars to echinacea, glutamine, whatever.
Endurance athletes can perform better when they fuel themselves during exercise. But the question arises: how can you carry energy bars and other sports snacks when you're doing, let's say, a 16-mile run? This site offers running/exercise apparel with food pockets that make it easier to keep yourself well fueled.
Wonder how your diet stacks up? This site lets you track and analyze your exercise and eating habits. Just enter your activities and what you eat in a day, and can analyze how it measures up. You'll learn the breakdown of calories into protein, carbs and fat, learn how your diet compares with RDA guidelines, whether you're meeting personal goals, and other diet- and exercise-related feedback.
Note: The key to getting accurate nutrition feedback (as with any computerized dietary analysis) is to know the true portion sizes of what you eat. That is, how much granola do you actually pour into the cereal bowl -- one cup? Two cups? For best results, measure your food.
Wonder about caffeine, aspartame or chocolate? If you have any food questions, this site will provide the answers! It's sponsored by the International Food Information Council Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to communicate reliable information about food, food safety and nutrition. Just go to "search" and enter the topic of concern. You'll get a list of articles that answer your questions.
Do you have medical questions or concerns? On WebMD you can do a search on Achilles, torn ACL or any injury-of-the-day, and you'll get the information you need to manage the problem.
Have a question about herbs, massage, homeopathy or mind/body healing techniques? The Alternative Medicine Foundation's mission is to provide consumer-friendly scientific information on the integration of alternative and conventional medicine approaches. Click on "HerbMed" to find reliable facts about aloe, ginkgo, black cohosh, etc.
Wonder about the nutritional needs of infants, your grandparents, your children or yourself? The National Agricultural Library's Food and Nutrition Information Center provides information about nutrition throughout the lifecycle. Click on "Consumer Corner," then "Nutrition Over the Lifecycle" and you'll get dietary guidelines for people of all ages, plus a wealth of other food and nutrition information.
If you're struggling to find the right balance of food and exercise, the National Eating Disorders Association site offers helpful information as well as referrals to professionals who can help you come to peace with food. There's no need to struggle on your own when you can connect with others who can help you develop a better relationship with exercise, food and your body.
Are you really getting what you pay for when you buy nutritional supplements? ConsumerLab.com monitors the quality of vitamin and mineral supplements, herbs, nutrition bars, protein powders and numerous other health products so you'll know which brands offer you the best for your money.
Some of the information is free; some comes with a fee. An annual subscription is $24.00; a single product review is $9.00. The site could likely save you that much money.
Feeling stressed out? Want more serenity and calm in your life? The Learning Meditation site provides meditation rooms where you can listen to guided mediations that last from three to 10 minutes. You can choose for meditations related to self image and weight management, healing, fulfilling your potential, and other inspirational topics.
Have no idea what's for dinner but want something tasty? You'll find lots of food ideas on this Web site -- not just recipes, but nutrition information about each recipe and a customized food shopping list.
You can look for recipes according to health needs (low cholesterol, diabetes), time available to cook, nutrition and taste (that is, are you hankering for comfort food, gourmet food, holiday foods, chocolate, etc.). You can also choose from the list of the most popular recipes. The spinach-stuffed chicken breasts (preparation time: 10 minutes; cooking time: 35 minutes) sounds good to me!
If you're thinking about a vegetarian lifestyle, this Web site, sponsored by Vegetarians Unite!, was designed to create an Internet vegetarian community. It offers over 4,300 recipes including kid-friendly foods, plus chat rooms, articles, book ideas, even veggie poems. A fun site!
Looking for a local sports nutritionist who can help answer your personal nutrition questions? This site, sponsored by the American Dietetic Association, offers a referral network. Just put your zip code into the referral network box and you'll get a list of nutrition/sports nutrition professionals who can give you personalized attention.
Sports dietitian Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., counsels casual and competitive athletes at Healthworks, the premier fitness center in Chestnut Hill, MA (617-383-6100). Her best-selling Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Food Guide for Marathoners and Cyclist's Food Guide are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com.