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 animated Food Log demo.)


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 "Find" 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 keywordenter 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 dictionaryjust 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 the top brand names.


5. Build a Favorites list


Most people eat the same foods over and over again. (A typical American supermarket offers more than 10,000 choices, yet 75 percent of the calories most people consume come from only 100 generic items.) This means you can save a lot of time by building a Favorites list. It's easy to do: just point to a food, hold down the right mouse button, drag it into the Favorites window in the middle of your Food Log screen, and release the mouse button.*** You can drag foods down from the dictionary window or up from the log windoweither way. Within a few days, you'll be logging most of your foods from Favorites instead of the full dictionary.


6. Know your colors


Even if you don't bother with a Favorites list, Diet Power "remembers" foods you've eaten recently and colors them red. (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.




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 examplebut "Rich in Potassium" would not, because all orange juice is rich in potassium.




You can also copy a food to the Favorites window by clicking the food once to highlight it, then pressing Shift+Enter on your keyboard. (Exception: When the New Search box contains an "Esc clears this field" message, Shift+Enter won't work until you press your Escape key.)



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Last Modified: 2/25/06