27 March 12 Tips & Tricks for Using MyNetDiary's Huge Food Database

I often get asked questions about MyNetDiary's food database so I thought that I would summarize a few important tips in a blog post.

Food Item Sources

MyNetDiary has over 440,000 food items – these include items entered and quality-assured by the Support team as well as those entered by members.

If a person enters a custom food, the name will appear to the owner as they entered it, but to other members, "user contributed" will be added to the food item's name. Since "user contributed" items are entered by members, their accuracy is not guaranteed. If you don't want to see these food items in your search, unclick the box, "Find custom foods contributed by others" in your Account tab on web or in Settings in apps.

If you select a "user contributed" item, check the nutrition label for accuracy before using. If you see a mistake, simply choose to edit the item and correct the bad value. This will take you less time than entering the same item as a new item. But if you choose to enter a new item, take a few seconds to check your own entries for accuracy.

If you want to share foods with friends and family members, the easiest way is to simply go into My Community Profile on the web, and then click the box "Let everyone find my custom foods and activities." Be sure your food item name is clearly described.

If you only want to share your custom entered foods with "friends," then allow them access to your foods by updating your settings in My Community Profile. To "friend' someone, click their nickname link, scroll to the bottom of their profile page, and then change your attitude from "neutral" to "friendly." To copy foods from a friend, go to their profile page, find their "Custom Foods" and then click the copy link on the far right. Once you do that, you will be able to see their food item in a search along with "copied from (friend's name)" in the title.

Fast & Smart Searching

I hope everyone who uses MyNetDiary takes advantage of the super fast search capabilities. You only need three characters per word to start bringing up food selections. 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, if I want to bring up generic roasted chicken breast, then I might search it as "chi bre roa" for chicken breast roasted. If I am trying to find Eden Foods Toasted Sesame Oil, then I would try "Ede Toa Ses" for my first search.

As you use MyNetDiary, you'll discover that once you enter a food item in a meal, future searches will bring up that item to the top of the search list. I often use the "favorites" function to help me find foods I have recently entered for that meal or snack. If I am on the web, I might use the "same" link to simply load yesterday's meal or snack into today's meal or snack.

If there are a couple of food items with very similar names and I keep picking and loading the wrong one, I will sometimes edit the name to include my three initials. This allows me to find the desired food item quickly.

Finding Generic Items

If you are convinced that MyNetDiary does not contain a generic food item, then I recommend visiting the USDA nutrient database and try searching for your food item there. 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 those items are already in the database. Now you simply know how to search for the item using the correct terms.

Another trick is to use generic food items instead of brand foods for basic foods if you are tracking nutrients not typically found on the food label (e.g. potassium and magnesium). Or, if you want to use the brand item, you can copy and edit to include the expanded nutrient content from the generic item, or simply edit the item if it is a "user contributed" item.

Tracking Water

If you want to track total water intake, then enter water (e.g. "municipal water") as a food item in your daily food record. Clicking the cute water glasses is a helpful tickler, but it doesn't get transferred to the daily food record. As well, select to include "water" as a nutrient to track in Plan tab on web (or in My Plan in apps). If you can't find water to track and you want to track it, then consider increasing your subscription plan.

System-Entered Food Errors

If you notice that a system-entered food item (does not have "user contributed" in its name and you know that you did not enter it) has incorrect nutrition information based upon the food label you have in your hand, then let Support know about the discrepancy. If you have the iPhone app, then use your camera to take a photo of the correct nutrition label so that Support can update or correct the food item's nutrition information.

System-entered food items are quality assured but if the manufacturer or restaurant changes the nutrient information or package serving size, MyNetDiary's information can get outdated. If you do not have the iPhone or iPod with camera, you can send Support a link to the manufacturer's online nutrition information for correction. Post your request on the "Food and Activity Database Requests" thread (you can use the search box on the web forum). If you don't want to take the time to send Support a note, then simply copy and edit the food item, depending upon your subscription level.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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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