The key to weight loss, I've read a hundred times, is information. Watching and recording what you eat is the necessary first step to any health regimen. There are plenty of food-tracking tools out there, including the famous Weight Watchers system. And now there's a new, free, Web 2.0-ish service, the Daily Plate.
There's nothing conceptually new about this service. What it has going for it is a very straightforward interface. You search for a food item, select the right one from a list of possibilities, and hit the I Ate That button. It logs the item, the calories consumed, and so on. If you tell the system your stats (height, weight, age, exercise level) and your goal (how much weight you want to lose and how fast), it will track your intake against the amount of calories you should be taking in. It's up to you, of course, to be honest.
While watching calorie intake is a proven way to lose weight, there's more here, at least potentially. Underneath the user interface is a database of the nutritional values of foods. There's no reason that Daily Plate couldn't track protein instead of calories (Atkins vs. Weight Watchers), make sure that you're getting enough minerals, or offer services to health care providers to allow them to customize diets for patients.
And I hope some fine-tuning of this beta will prevent the system from recommending in the future, as it does now, a Blackberry Vodka Cordial as a lower-calorie alternative to a breakfast of scrambled eggs. Although if the computer says it, it must be right.
All that said, this is a nice interface for people tracking their food intake.First noticed on Mashable.