Nutrient History, Your


At a Glance


The Nutrient History helps you balance your diet by showing how much of each nutrient you've consumed and which foods contributed to it.



Table View



Bar Chart View


In Detail


Are you getting enough calcium? Folate? Water? Vitamin C? Too much sodium or cholesterol? What percentage of your calories today came from fat? Which foods made your cholesterol too high? What should you eat if your selenium is low?


Your Nutrient History can answer these and dozens of other questions at a glance. Besides showing your nutrient balance for today, it can display your daily average for the past week, month, quarter, or yearin either bar-chart or table form. It also displays your Nutrition Quotient (NQ) for each period and offers a Food Coach to help you improve it.




The Nutrient History reports your intake of each nutrient as a percentage of your Personal Daily Allowance (PDA). If your PDA is set to the default for your age, sex, and reproductive state, you can be sure it reflects mainstream medical research. If you've edited it to some other value, however, the figure in your Nutrient History represents your own thinking, not the scientific community's. For best advice, consult your doctor or a registered dietitian.


To open your Nutrient History:


From your Home Screen:


To get a rough idea of your dietary balance...


...look at your Nutrition Quotient (NQ) in the lower-left section of the dialog.


To learn which nutrients can best improve your NQ...


...see the advice line ("Easiest Ways to Improve") under the NQ. It takes into account your shortage or surplus of each nutrient, as well as the nutrient's importance to health and prevalence in common foods.


To learn which foods will improve your intake of any nutrient... the Food Coach by clicking the nutrient's name or color bar.


To open any nutrient's Help topic...


...right-click its name or color bar.


To toggle between bar-chart and table views... the drop-list button in the upper-left corner of the dialog.


To toggle among "known," "imputed," and "projected" views... the drop-list button in the upper-right corner of the dialog.

To choose a time span... one of the tabs at the top of the page, labeled "Today," "Past Week," "Past Month," "Past Quarter," and "Past Year."


(You can also look at your nutrient balance for a particular day or period in the past. Just change the working date before opening the Nutrient History.)


The Meaning of Each Time Span


If the working date is today:

If the working date is not today...


...the "Today" tab will be relabeled "This Day" and the time spans will refer to the working date instead of the current date. For consistency, the "preceding days only" rule (described above) will still apply.

Interpreting the Bar Chart


The chart is actually two pages long. To flip between the pages, click the word More in its lower-left corner.


The bar beside each nutrient represents the percentage of your Personal Daily Allowance (PDA) that you've averaged during the period displayed. (For a complete definition of PDAs and related terms, see Personal Daily Allowances.) When you've averaged more than 200 percent of a PDA, the percentage is shown numerically in the right margin. (The upper limit for the margin display is 9999 percent. Any percentage above that will be indicated as ">9999.")


The bars are also color-coded:


image\diet0036.gif  Blue indicates that your daily average of this nutrient is "on target."


image\diet0042.gif  Yellow means your daily average is either "high" or "low."


image\diet0037.gif  Red means your daily average is "very high" or "very low."


image\diet0038.gif  A missing bar means you've recorded none of that nutrient.


The exact meaning of "on target," "high," "low," "very high," and "very low" varies from nutrient to nutrient. To learn the details for any nutrient, open its Help topic (by right-clicking its name) and read the section headed "Color Coding of This Nutrient."


Your PDA of calories...


...may differ from your calorie budget. This is normal, and may even make your Calories bar blue for "good" when you've gone slightly over budget during a weight-loss or maintenance diet. For an explanation, see "Don't Confuse Your PDA with Your Budget" in Calories.


Interpreting the Table


Unlike the bar chart, the table view is restricted to a single page and doesn't give a quality rating for each nutrient. Nevertheless, it delivers more information. Besides the percentage of PDA, it shows:

Examples of Use


(As always, get your doctor's advice before following these tips.)


If you're concerned about heart disease:

For more advice, see Heart Disease.


If you're concerned about high blood pressure:

For more advice, see Blood Pressure, High.


If you're concerned about cancer:

For more advice, see Cancer.


If you're concerned about osteoporosis:

For more advice, see Osteoporosis.


If you're concerned about diabetes:

For more advice, see this website's diabetes section.


How accurate is your Nutrient History?


That depends on two things:

  1. How precisely you've recorded your meals in the Food Log.

If you haven't measured your portions carefully, if you've forgotten to log some of your foods, or if you've logged substitutes that didn't exactly match those you ate, the history will be proportionately in error. This should not worry you greatly, however, unless you've been truly negligent for a large fraction of the days you've been using Diet Power. Your errors in measurement may fairly well cancel one another out; your substitutions may do the same; and anytime you skip a day, Diet Power automatically makes the reasonable assumption that your intake of each nutrient was the same as your daily average for the preceding 30 days, plus or minus a percentage based on your weight change that day. (If you've been using Diet Power less than 30 days, the program fills in the missing days with "phantom data" for an average person of your age, sex, weight, and reproductive state.)


Even when these assumptions aren't true, the error that you've introduced into the record will, of course, become less significant with each passing day, because it will make up a smaller and smaller fraction of your history.


Finally, there is margin for error in most Personal Daily Allowances (PDAs) themselves: the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) has inflated most of the Recommended Dietary Allowances enough to cover the needs of all but 2 to 3 percent of the population, which means that an average person will find them more than adequate. (Diet Power does not inflate its Diet Power Daily Allowances, however, since most of these cover nutrients that pose little health risk if there is a shortage.)

  1. Which nutrients you're monitoring.

If you browse the Food Dictionary for a while, you'll notice that figures for some of the less important nutrients (those toward the end of the nutrient table) are sometimes not given. That's usually because neither the government, nor any food company, nor any independent laboratory, has gone to the expense of measuring that nutrient in that food. So, when you look at the figures for these minor nutrients in the Known view of your Nutrient History (see above), you can assume only that you've gotten at least the amount shown, and that your true intake may be higher. Similarly, if you look at the figures in Imputed or Projected view, you can assume only that you're seeing estimates.


Underreported nutrients will be more numerous in the brand-name foods that users add to the dictionary (those marked with the image\diet0050.gif symbol) and in the 2500 chain-restaurant foods (these always include the chain's name) than in the 8500 generic foods. For each class of food, here are the nutrients you should doubt:

You can make your Nutrient History more accurate.


If the minor nutrients listed above are important to you, then obviously you should log the generic version of a food whenever you can. (Exception: dietary fiber. Generic foods sometimes fail to report it, whereas brand-name foods must.)


If you're not interested in minor nutrients, always log the brand-name version. Reason: Generic items are often composites of several brands with differing nutrient profiles. A brand-name label includes nutrient data for that brand only. (But remember: some of the chain-restaurant brands omit even major nutrients. If you're concerned about your calcium intake and you eat lunch daily at Little Caesars, for example, your Nutrient History will underreport your calcium intakebecause Little Caesars doesn't report on calcium.)


If the calories in your Nutrient History and your Food Log don't agree...


...the difference probably stems from rounding errors. In most cases, the disparity won't be significant. A 100-calorie error represents less than half an ounce of body fat.


To print a Nutrient History:

  1. Choose the time span you want to print, by clicking its tab.

  1. Click the Print button underneath the history. (If the Print button is not visible, see Taskbar, Hiding to Make Screens Deeper.) The Windows Print dialog will appear.

  1. Change your print settings, if necessary.

  1. Click OK or press the Enter key.

The printout will include all the information on both the bar-chart and table views, as well as a pie chart of your Key Ratio.


To close the Nutrient History... Close or press the Enter key. (If the Close button is not visible, see Taskbar, Hiding to Make Screens Deeper.) Diet Power will take you back to the Home Screen.



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Last Modified: 2/8/04