Log Your Meals in 5 Minutes a Day


During your first couple of days with Diet Power, you may find it takes a long time to log your foods. Don't be discouraged. Within a week, you'll be logging many times faster. Surveys of veteran users* indicate that you can find any item in seconds if you follow the six rules below. (To see these rules in action, take a look at our Food Log tutorial.)


1. Don't scroll!


The Food Dictionary contains 11,000 foods in 21,000 entries. Scrolling is about as dumb as walking the aisles of a library instead of consulting the card catalog. The best way to search, by far, is by typing keywords into the Search field at the top of the screen and pressing your Enter key.


2. Use "Smart Search"


Diet Power offers four search methods (see Dictionaries, Searching the). The best, according to most users, is Smart Search. So, if you see "Incremental," "Category," or "Keyword" in the top-right corner of your Food Log, click the image\diet0046.gif button and choose "Smart Search" instead.


3. Enter more than one keyword


When using Smart Search, don't enter just one keyword—enter two or three. That way, you'll generally find the food you want without having to scroll much at all. If you're looking for whole-wheat bread, for example, entering bread alone will confront you with 233 foods, while entering bread whole will turn up only 16.


4. Don't obsess over brand names


If the Food Dictionary doesn't include Green Giant frozen corn (it doesn't), don't waste time adding it to the dictionary—just log generic frozen corn instead. Reason: unless the label clearly states that the food is fortified with additional nutrients,** most brand-name foods are fairly close, nutritionally, to the generic items. Why? Because the dictionary is based on the USDA's Standard Reference Database, which the government created by analyzing top brands.


5. Look in your Recent list


Diet Power remembers every food you've logged in the past 30 days (or whatever period you specify in the Miscellaneous Options dialog). If the food you want to log is one you eat frequently, it may be on your Recent list. (Most people get 75 percent of their calories from the same 100 foods, eaten over and over again.) To open your Recent list, click the Recent button above the Food Log's top window.


6. Build a Favorites list


You can also build a Favorites list. It's easy to do: In the Food Log, hold down either the left or the right mouse button to reveal the COPY symbol, drag the COPY symbol to the word Favorites above the top window, and release the mouse button.*** You can drag foods down from the dictionary window or up from the log window—either way. (Note: Because your Recent list is automatically recording favorites for you, it pays to check Recents before looking in Favorites.)


7. Know your colors


Even if you ignore your Recents and Favorites lists, Diet Power "remembers" foods you've eaten recently and colors them red in the All Foods list. (As noted above, the default for "recently" is the past 30 daysbut you can set the period anywhere from one to 999 days by using the Miscellaneous Options dialog.) In Smart Search, the red foods always appear at the top of the "found" list, and are immediately followed by blue foods representing your next most likely choices. Especially if you get into the habit of using two or three keywords, the red and blue foods feature will dramatically shorten your search time.


8. Use the recipe trick


Like most people, you probably have favorite meals that you log again and again. Instead of logging each food separately, create a "recipe" (using the Recipe Box) that incorporates all the foods as "ingredients." Name the meal "Poached egg, toast, orange juice, and coffee" or "My usual at Sal's Restaurant" and you can log the meal as a single item. (Better yet, begin every meal's name with My meals: and you'll be able to find all your meals with a single Smart Search.)




In 2001, a survey of more than 400 experienced users revealed that 78 percent spent less than ten minutes per day logging their foods. About half spent less than five minutes per day. In more recent tests, users averaged nine seconds per food.




"With Added Potassium" on an orange-juice carton would qualify, for example—but "Rich in Potassium" would not, because all orange juice is rich in potassium.




You can also copy a food to your Favorites list by clicking the food once to highlight it, then pressing Shift+Enter on your keyboard.



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Last Modified: 7/1/07