Leverage MyNetDiary's robust food database with these tips for searching basic and staple foods
- 3 Minutes Read
Did you know that MyNetDiary's food database has almost a million food items? Learn how to improve your searches and use our curated staples food list, making it easier to log your food.
Most of our generic foods come from the USDA National Nutrient Database. The USDA has tested these foods for nutrient content. There are about 9000 basic foods available from the USDA food database, and MyNetDiary has them all!
Staple foods are a subset of 1000 general food items, carefully selected by MyNetDiary, to make it easier to find what you expect. Our staples database includes foods commonly used in cooking. When you tap the Staples icon, you will see a list of food groups. Tap each food group to see common staple foods to select and log to your meal or custom recipe. For instance, if you tap Vegetables - Raw or Frozen, you will see everyday staples in alphabetical order: artichokes raw, arugula or rocket raw, asparagus raw, avocados raw, etc. You can also search the entire collection of staple foods.
A food search with a single common name, like "orange" or "chicken," brings up several choices, so which is really the one you want? MyNetDiary makes it easier to find specific foods by ensuring that many generic, non-brand-name foods show up high in the results, along with foods you have previously logged or tagged as favorites.
Instead of logging brand-name foods (e.g., 2% Organic Reduced Fat Milk by Organic Valley), you might want to log staple or generic foods (e.g., Milk Reduced Fat 2% Milkfat). Consider this option for simple foods with similar nutrient content regardless of brand, such as most plain dairy products, produce, meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, oils, fats, etc.
The benefit of entering staple or basic foods over name-brand foods is that you get more portion size options and complete nutrient content for each item, making your daily nutrition analysis more accurate.
Name-brand foods often only list the nutrients required on the Nutrition Facts panels. Therefore, it's helpful to choose basic or staple foods to track a broader range of nutrients. This is especially important if you need detailed vitamin and mineral information for special diets, such as after weight-loss surgery or chronic kidney disease .
Using Staples to log to your food diary is faster and easier than searching for the basic item through keywords. Avoid scrolling through hundreds of foods by merely browsing Staples in MyNetDiary.
Use a regular food search if you don't see the food you need in Staples. When possible, include additional descriptors to very common foods. For example, search for "dark meat chicken raw" instead of "chicken" to narrow search results. If you think an item should be included in our staples database, please email us at email@example.com.
If you aren't using the Staples feature, quickly find a fresh fruit or vegetable by adding the terms "raw" or "fresh" to your fruit or vegetable name. For example, if you search "raw orange" or "orange fresh," then a plain orange appears at the top of the search list. The same goes for finding raw vegetables. Search "broccoli raw," and it will populate at the top of your search.
You may add a specific cooking method to narrow your search. The USDA typically features data for boiled vegetables. For example, when you search "broccoli cooked boiled," you'll notice one with and one without salt. To log steamed broccoli, use "boiled" since USDA does not list steamed vegetables. Use "boiled broccoli" for roasted broccoli and add the amount of oil and salt used to roast the broccoli.
Name-brand grains or pasta can be tricky to log since their food labels often refer to the dry, uncooked portion. Unless you are entering a unique product, record grains or pasta as a staple food item instead of a brand name.
If you do not find a cooked basic or staple food that fits, here are some tips for logging an uncooked version to get a reasonably accurate calorie and carb count:
Add the word "cooked" to bring up cooked foods instead of raw, for cooked weight will make a difference in calories and nutrition. Because there are hundreds of these cooked items, the more specific you can be in your search, the higher up in the search list you will find the basic food item.
The more you log with MyNetDiary, the easier it gets! Once you log an item, MyNetDiary remembers your previously logged foods and foods you have tagged as favorites and will bring these foods to the top of your search results.
If you can't find a standard food item or any food item for that matter, let us know! Get help by posting your question in Ask a Registered Dietitian/Certified Diabetes Educator forum or sending your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to support you and make your tracking effortless!
Reviewed and updated on January 29, 2021 by Sue Heikkinen MS, RDN, CDCES
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