1 August 2013 Tips & Tricks for Entering & Correcting Foods in MyNetDiary

MyNetDiary has over 500K food items in its database. At the time of this writing, 230,000 of those items have been entered and verified by MyNetDiary, with 300 new and verified foods added daily. Given this extremely rich and powerful database, it is good to know tips and tricks for entering and using food items so that tracking is super-fast, easy, and accurate.

In addition to the information presented here, please be sure to read MyNetDiary's FAQ page on food items.

PhotoFood - A Great Service!

PhotoFood service can be used to:

  • Complete & check the accuracy of your new custom food item
  • Review and fix mistakes found in existing food items
Using PhotoFood to enter new food items or fix mistakes in existing food items helps MyNetDiary grow the food database accurately, as well as keep existing food items up to date. Give the team 24-48 hours to complete the entry or correction process.

Where Is PhotoFood?

Entering Custom Foods. Within the Custom Food screen in your app, after entering the food item name, food group, serving, serving weight, and calories, you will see it directly below "Nutrients Entry." Turn "Use PhotoFood" ON. Take a good photo of the front of the food package as well as the Nutrition Facts panel as directed. Staff need to be able to read the package text for data entry and review. Next, I recommend that you tap Link Barcode to ensure that your new food has a barcode attached to it. This makes searching for packaged foods a breeze - you can simply scan the barcode! Be sure to finish by tapping "save" in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Updating Existing Foods. Bring up the food label of the food item. From the Nutrition Facts screen, tap "update" in the upper right hand corner. The Update Food screen is the PhotoFood service. Then just follow the prompts as described directly above. Remember to save your update!

Why Do Some System-Entered Foods Have Incorrect Data?

Some system-entered foods have mistakes or get outdated for a number of reasons. Please use PhotoFood service to correct these foods if they have labels.

Food vendor changes. The Nutrition Facts panel can change due to a change in ingredients and/or serving size. Staff tells me that they typically see that vendors update foods yearly.

Human error. MyNetDiary has a great Food Data Research Team but they are human. Occasionally, the team might experience an oversight error or an initial error during data entry. However, double-entry is performed so this type of error is not common.

If you notice that MyNetDiary contains restaurant data that appears to be outdated, then please email Support a link to the updated nutrition information from the restaurant's website. As well, if your favorite restaurant is not in the database, you can email Support a link to the restaurant's nutrition information. Support will not enter nutrition information from an outside source - it needs to be from the restaurant.

Contributed Foods

"Contributed" foods are more likely to have errors since they are not system-entered foods, they are entered by other members who are not using PhotoFood service. You can easily identify these foods since "contributed" is in the food name. Contributed foods are only periodically checked by an automated process - they are not hand-checked and verified by humans using the actual food package information as with PhotoFood service.

If you decide to use contributed food items, check the nutrition label for accuracy before using. If you see a mistake and see "update" in the upper right hand corner of the Nutrition Facts screen, you can tap it to access PhotoFood service for review and correction. This is a great way to correct contributed food items that are packaged foods. As an added benefit, when contributed foods go through PhotoFood service, they graduate to system-entered foods and "contributed" gets dropped from the name. So, the database grows and everyone benefits!

If you don't want to see or use contributed food items, go to your app Settings and set "Find Contributed" to OFF. If you use the web program, go to Account tab and uncheck "Find custom foods contributed by others."

Note: if you use Diabetes Tracker app and select any type of diabetes, the system will automatically hide contributed food items from view given the lack of quality assurance, especially for carb counts. This is an important safety feature for those of you who count carbs for insulin use. For more information about using the Diabetes Tracker, please read my article on the main website. Selecting "none" for diabetes type in Settings allows you to view and use contributed foods. But please use caution as they are not quality assured.

Sharing Custom Foods

To share custom foods (and recipes) with other members, go to the web program, select Community tab, select My Community Profile link, go to "About Me," and then check "Let everyone find my custom foods and activities." Once you do this, other members can click your nickname, scroll down your Person Page, and then choose to copy your custom foods or recipes. For more tips on recipe entry, be sure to read this blog post.

Favorites

As you use MyNetDiary, you'll discover that once you enter a food item in a meal, future searches using parts of the food name will bring up that item in bold font at the top of the search list. These are your favorites - the system is smart enough to know that if you have used the food in a record before, then it is a favorite.

In apps, you can tap the star icon to bring up often used food items by meal. If you stop using a food item, the item stops appearing in the favorites list. Using it again brings it back.

If you use the web program and you are a creature of habit, then you can use the "same" link in the meal header to load yesterday's meal or snack into today's meal or snack. You can also use the "recent" link to find food items used in that meal during the last few days.

If you simply want to see a list of all of your custom foods or if you wish to delete any, then you must use the web program. Go to Food tab, click "My Foods" icon at the top left of the screen, and then check "Show Custom Foods Only." Find the food group the custom food belongs to and then click the + sign to see all foods in that group. Select (click checkbox) the food item of interest, and then choose one of the options to the right of the screen (e.g. view or delete).

Food Name Display

How you search for a food before using it in a record for the very first time will determine how it is displayed on your daily screen view as well as how it shows up as a favorite in future searches. For instance, if you search "ham" and eventually find and select "Sandwiches 6" turkey and black forest ham with spinach by Subway" then what you will see on the food record is just "ham." Better to use more words for the very first search so that more of the name shows up. In this example, a better first search would be "Subway turkey black ham spin."

You can retrain the system to use a fuller name by searching with more complete words in the food name and then scrolling down the food list until you see the original item name again. Select the original item again and use it in a food record.

Once you have brought up and used a food item with a name that is identifiable to you, be sure to use the fast search technique to bring it up the next time - see below.

Reports will display the full food item name regardless of how you search for the food item or how it displays on your daily screen view.

Fast & Smart Searching

I hope everyone who uses MyNetDiary takes advantage of the super-fast search capabilities. You only need three characters to start searching food items. If the word is very common or has a lot of hits, then filter your search by adding another three characters of another word in the food name. For instance, in the example of the Subway sandwich above, I can find that item again very quickly by simply typing "tur bla" - I don't even need to use all words in the name.

Barcode scanning to find packaged items is also very fast! However, I find that I can type faster than I can barcode scan, especially for bringing up food items that I use often. But barcode scanning is a fantastic way to find food items you are using for the first time in a record. And the full food item name is displayed on both the daily record screens as well as on reports.

Generic Items

MyNetDiary has a ton of generic food items, including all of the USDA basic foods. If you are convinced that the one you are looking for is missing, then try searching for it using the USDA nutrient database. You will learn how generic items are named, as well as see all the weights, volumes, and serving sizes. Don't worry about copying this info into MyNetDiary - all of USDA's items should already be in MyNetDiary's database. Now you simply know how to search for the item using the correct terms.

A great example is generic cooked chicken breast without skin. If you just search "chicken breast" you will see a ton of packaged foods at the top of the search. However, if you know how that food is named generically, you can find it quickly. But if you search "chicken broilers or fryers" then you will get a much shorter list of unprocessed chicken options, including options for type of meat (breast, leg, etc) cooking method, meat only or with skin, etc.

If you are tracking nutrients not required on food labels (e.g. magnesium and potassium), then consider using generic food items instead of brand foods since they tend to have more complete nutrient data. This is a good tactic for basic unprocessed foods where the nutrition does not vary by brand.

Explore the FAQs Page

MyNetDiary has an extensive and comprehensive FAQs page - be sure to bookmark it for future reference!

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
Have questions or comments about this post? Please feel free to comment on MyNetDiary's Community Forum or Facebook page – We would love to hear from you. And consider visiting our new Pinterest page!

Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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