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Food Planner and Using Recipes
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ejc150 posted:
I am trying to use the food planner to track nutritional information and calorie intake and it's not bad for "discrete" food items that have their own individual nutritional values, but I find no way to manage recipes and the portions one might eat of given recipes. There is no way in the tool to enter a recipe and the portion one ate to get the calorie total and nutritional value for a portion of a recipe. I can only see that you have to manually list out all recipe ingredients, with their calorie totals, add it all up and divide that total by the portion(s) you ate and enter that into the food planner. That is clumsy and time consuming and it is virtually impractical to get all the nutritional information besides just the calorie count that way. Is there any way to to this in an automated way within the food planner tool or webmd system? The lack of any recipe management interface for the food planner seems to be a major oversight/shortcoming of the otherwise helpful WebMD food and fitness planner tools, since eating food via recipes is a major, ongoing source of food/calorie intake in our fitness plan.
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Tomato05 responded:
I don't think any food planner/food log system will give you the calorie content of recipes, because recipes vary too much (e.g. there are as many macaroni and cheese recipes as there are chefs!).

The food planners just give the calories of ingredients. You have to calculate the cal value of the portions yourself.

It is a good idea to use just simple recipes, not ones with loads of different ingredients, but ones with a few basic healthy ingredients. Not only are they easier to calculate calories, but they are likely to be healthier (less chance of adding high calorie and high fat items).
 
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ejc150 replied to Tomato05's response:
Thanks for the input.
The idea is to have a way to input specific recipes ourselves, so that we have the exact ingredients for a given recipe, even for those that vary for the same kind of thing. Specifically, Weight Watchers' Web Tools does this beautifully. You click on a "recipe builder" and it takes you to an interface where you enter each ingredient, that can be searched on and found in their database, or you can add your own. You have the desired nutritional information for each item as well as portion. It also lets you add the recipe directions and other information about the recipe and then save it to their database and add it to your food log. The recipe then is in their database, along with all the other food and recipe items, which can be pulled up again whenever that recipe is made again and added to the food log for a given day whenever needed. Since the food content is already calculated for you, you just add the portions you eat whenever you use the recipe. It's very helpful and really ought to be part of a robust food logging system. The lack of this in the WebMD system is a real drawback.
The issue with Weight Watchers is that they use their own proprietary point system rather than the "open" system of counting calories like with WebMD. The effect is that you are locked into their system for calculation of nutritional totals and it's not translatable to other systems. So, I was hoping WebMD would be a good alternative and more "open", following more standard nutritional measures, but this drawback is disappointing.

The other major drawback I recently discovered with WebMD food logging is that the food items we enter ourselves are not searchable afterward, in the WebMD food/nutrition database. Once your favorites is maxed out (100 items) and you enter a new food item, once you log it for a given day, if you need to log that same food again, say, days later, you cannot search for it from the WebMD database, bring it up and add it to you food log. It's gone. You have to enter it all over again, because items you create are apparently not saved to WebMD's food database and are not searchable. I couldn't believe this when I discovered this. This is a huge drawback. It simply is unreasonable to expect dieters to re-enter custom food items over and over again when they are consumed. The only way around this is to go back to a day's food log when that items was entered, remove something from your maxed-out favorites list, add it to favorites, and then add it to your food log for the day. That is a real cludge and not effective. Weight Watchers' database adds items that are entered by dieters into their database globally, so all items you enter (including recipes) are always available and searchable in the future, whenever you need them again. You don't have to re-enter them.

I would hope WebMD could enhance the food logging interface to add a robust recipe builder feature and making food items we add/create globally searchable along with their own food database. The food logging system would then be must more user-friendly and usable.

It otherwise has some really good features, like graphing food consumption, and breaking things down for the day. But WebMD really has to improve this interface. Take a lesson from how Weight Watchers does it.
 
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Tomato05 replied to ejc150's response:
Try fitday.com if you have never looked at them; that site probably addresses the issues you find problematic with WebMD's food logging site.


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