Looking for diet journaling short-cuts.
June 18, 2014 1:55 PM   Subscribe

I have begun keeping track of my daily eating as part of a cardiac rehab program. I am using myfitnesspal.com which I like because it has a tremendous variety of commercial products. However, I do a lot of preparation on my own from fresh ingredients and eat a lot of salads with a variety of different ingredients.

I am asking for your help in finding or figuring out a system which allows me to set up a frequently used recipe and have it calculate the nutritional profile of the dish, i.e. calories, fat, sodium, protein, and sugar, per serving based on the specific recipe.

I would also like the option of creating a "salad" category where I could simply click on an ingredient to add it to today's salad's nutritional summary.

I don't program, I use a MacMini with current OSX, I don't have a smart phone and, if I have to pay for the system I would.

Any ideas?
posted by uncaken to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I use myfitnesspal.com too.

I figure out my calories, then just add them via Quickly Add Calories only.

You can also add your own salads, especially the ones you make frequently. Figure out the calories and nutrients, it's a pain up front, but once it's done, you're golden.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:59 PM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wolfram Alpha can create a nutrition label for you.
posted by adamrice at 2:15 PM on June 18, 2014

Yup, I use MFP as well and just enter my frequently used ingredients and then use my own MPF database to "create" dishes. MFP allows you to make your own database of frequently eaten foods, so I don't think you need to make an additional program.
posted by quince at 2:17 PM on June 18, 2014

Previously, on the topic of tracking food easily while cooking from scratch a lot.

I also use MFP. I tend to eat the same thing several times per week, so I often back up a couple days to find the same or similar meal, then use the "copy this meal to" function to put it on today's meal, and then edit it to add/remove the things that varied (chèvre in my salad today instead of tuna, etc.)
posted by librarina at 2:31 PM on June 18, 2014

Does your MacMini have the "Multi-Add" option in MyFitnessPal? That might be your best bet for salads.

To get to it on my smartphone, I go to Diary>>Choose Meal>>Select "Multi-Add" from upper right corner. This is what I use to calculate my smoothies; in multi-add you can check mark a box next to the corner of a food item, or click it to go in and edit the quantity, then back out and check to add. At the end you choose "Add selected" and it will do it all in one go. So I'll select seven ingredients, add them, and it will show up as that day's smoothie in my menu. As librarina notes you can also save particular salads that you eat often under "meals" and then just copy paste into the correct day. I've got some smoothie bases that I often use (e.g., kale + spinach + banana, or spinach + celery + parsley) so that I can just copy those and then multi-add whatever else (e.g., blueberries, ginger, carrots) I put in there.
posted by stellaluna at 2:45 PM on June 18, 2014

Lose It! is similar to MyFitnessPal in that it has a ton of commercial products, restaurant menus, etc. It also allows you to create recipes that you can just pull up like any other stored food item. I put in, say, Mom's Meatloaf, add all the ingredients and the sizes, and then tell it how many servings that should create. Then, when I eat it, I select 1 serving (or whatever).

Also you can add previous meals from previous days in LoseIt, so you can add all the salad ingredients from three days ago at one go.
posted by clone boulevard at 2:45 PM on June 18, 2014

For similar purposes, I like these MFP features:
- create and save a recipe (doesn't have to be an actual recipe)
- save a meal
- copy a meal from one day to another
- when searching for one item, using the "frequently eaten with" suggestion prompts, which for example will suggest milk when you choose oatmeal, if you typically add them together.
(These are on the iOS app; I'm not sure if it's the same everywhere.)
posted by instamatic at 3:00 PM on June 18, 2014

It's not clear to me from your question or the answers whether you already use this feature, so apologies if I'm telling you something you already know. But in MFP (on the web interface, not mobile app), under Food > Recipes there is a box on the right labeled "Old Recipe Calculator". It allows you to add up a bunch of ingredients and it combines their nutrition info into one nutrition profile, broken down the way you describe.
posted by ootandaboot at 3:41 PM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

One trick with salads to combine similar ingredients and just enter a single proxy. So instead of 1/4 cup each of green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, I just enter 3/4 c. broccoli - it is close enough for what I need. As you get used the ingredients, you can figure out which are close enough to be combined. Remember that everything is calorie tracking is approximate anyway even though it looks oh-so precise.
posted by metahawk at 5:55 PM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

As metahawk says, one of the best shortcuts is not to obsess too much about recording absolutely exactly what you ate.
Start out entering everything, and then you'll get the hang of what's comparable; I end up sometimes fitting my food to the diet recorder instead of vice-versa, for example, since 1oz of swiss cheese is nutritionally similar to 1.25 oz of mozzarella, I slice the mozz slightly thicker when I'm putting it into my sandwich.
posted by aimedwander at 6:29 AM on June 19, 2014

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