· Personal Food item lists
· Scans Nutrition Label Information directly, not bar codes relying on external database
· Database of food items included with App
VisuDiet is one of iRead Solutions Inc. 'Apps With Vision'. Its purpose is to allow you to answer the following question: Am I getting too much, too little or just enough of daily nutrition elements?
VisuDiet tracks nutrition data for foods that you consume and allows you to visualize your nutrient consumption against desired daily nutrition values. It simplifies gathering nutrition data by providing support for scanning nutrition data from 'Nutrition Facts' labels or copying nutrition information from over 8000 items available in the USDA National Nutrient Database (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2013. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl).
The typical steps for using the program are as follows:
· Select Nutrients to be tracked
· Set Daily Value for Nutrients
· Track Food Consumption, adding foods as necessary
· Checkup on nutrient consumption against daily values
WARNING: You should consult a physician or nutritionist before setting nutrition targets in this program. Also, errors can result when scanning data so you should always check the scan results to ensure information is accurate.
VisuDiet requires that you select the nutrients you wish to track. This is done in the 'Settings/Info' Tab by selecting the 'Nutrients to Track' option and simply selecting/deselecting nutrients.
The current version supports 10 common elements most often found in Nutrition Facts labels which are : Calories, Fat (Total), Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Carbohydrates (Total), Fibre, Sugars, and Protein.
SET NUTRIENT DAILY VALUES
Desired nutrient daily values are identified by selecting the 'Nutrient Daily Values' option and manually entering the values.
Nutrition Fact labels usually give Daily Value (DV) percentages for a 2000 calorie diet, which may or may not match your needs. Here you can specify values specific to your nutrition requirements. VisuDiet then displays percentage values for the nutrients in the foods that you eat that are relative to YOUR daily values.
WARNING: VisuDiet is a nutrient tracking program that simplifies the repetitive task of collecting food data, tracking consumption and processing the data to compare actual consumption to daily values. VisuDiet does NOT provide advice on nutrition values that would be appropriate to your specific nutrition needs, which is one step that must be completed so that APPROPRIATE daily values are available to be used. It does not validate the values you enter - it simply accepts it and expects you will enter appropriate values for your specific needs. THE DAILY VALUES SET HERE SHOULD BE BASED ON VALUES PROVIDED BY A HEALTH CARE EXPERT (eg dietition/nutritionist).
While the daily values are likely unique for each individual, the data collected for the food items you eat is independent of the daily values you set. You can change the nutrition daily values at any time and VisuDiet will report against the new values. The food consumption data you collected is not lost (or deleted).
TRACKING FOOD CONSUMPTION — OVERVIEW
Tracking Food Consumption is where most time will be spent in the app and is accomplished in the 'Food' Tab of the App. To track your nutrient consumption, VisuDiet expects you to tell it each food item you eat and specify a serving size. This is achieved by selecting from the items from your personal food items list.
You build your personal food items list as you consume food. If the item is not already in your list, you create a food item by scanning data from Nutrition labels off of food packaging, copying data from the USDA database, or manually entering food item data.
When you first use the progam, your list will be small and effort will be needed to add items to your personal food items list. However, once you have entered the item in your list, it is available to be selected the next time you eat the same item. Over time, your list builds and tracking will be simply a matter of pulling out your device, selecting the item from your list, and indicating serving size. VisuDiet also supports meals (discussed later) so tracking your consumption for a day can become simpler - it could be simply tracking 3 meals and snacks.
VisuDiet allows you to organize your food items in familiar categories (Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Beverage,...). The category is displayed in the title of the list in the 'Food' tab. To switch to a new category, simply tap the title and choose a new category. Categories help manage list size and provide a natural organization of your food items that match how food items are eaten - breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, beverage.
There is also a search capability which displays foods from ANY category that matches the search term. You enter one or more full or partial words and VisuDiet will find the items that match the full or partial words.
ADDING FOOD ITEMS : SCAN OR MANUAL EDIT
Before adding a food item, select the category by tapping on the title for the 'Food' tab. Then press the '+' button and choose the 'Scan/Manual Entry' option.
In VisuDiet, 'scanning' means scanning the printed information in the Nutrition Facts label - not scanning the barcode to lookup data in an online database. You do not connect to a server and do not need a connection to the internet to use VisuDiet.
WARNING: VisuDiet uses optical character recognition (OCR) to detect nutrition content from nutrition labels and may have errors. You should always double check the values read by the program for accuracy. You can simply place the phone beside the Nutrition Facts label and compare.
'Scan/Manual Entry' takes you to the 'Nutrition Scan' view which allows you to scan or manually edit any nutrient you wish to track. Food item name, serving size and values for each nutrient are entered into a box that appears for each on a separate line. Simply move the rectangular 'viewfinder' box (orange lines) over serving size or nutrient data value information in the Nutrition Facts table and values will be automatically entered into the correct box as the camera image processing logic reads the information. Or, you can tap a box to manually enter a value at any time. The food item name must be manually entered. Once all values have been entered, press the Save button. The new food item will then appear in the category you selected.
When scanning, if an entry is not read correctly the first time, you can leave the viewfinder rectangle over the information in the nutrition label. VisuDiet is always recalculating the best answer for any data element and once the number of accurate readings exceeds the number of inaccurate readings, the new correct reading will replace the previous incorrect value. It is important to ensure the camera is focused so ensure to tap in the rectangle to refocus as needed.
You can also select a single nutrient or serving size box so that the scanning function only reads values for that element. This is done by tapping to the right of box for the desired data element line - the colour will change to yellow to indicate it is selected.
At any time you can tap a box to manually enter a value. When finished, press the 'Hide Keyboard' button to return to scanning mode. You can turn off the scanning function and operate in pure manual edit mode by pressing the camera button (will have a red 'X'). To go back to scanning, press the camera button again.
Swiping across the 'viewfinder' will clear values - a single value if a single data element line is selected, otherwise all values.
You can duplicate a food item. This may be handy when there are two variants of a food item - such as regular and low sodium. You can duplicate the item and simply change the value that is different rather than scanning a completely new item.
You can edit a food item - you may want to give a more distinct name, correct an error, or update a nutrient that did not have a previous value. When you update an item, all previous consumption data uses your new values when comparing your consumption against your daily values.
The colours of items on the 'Nutrition Scan' view also provide key information. Background colours are set as follows : pink when data NOT yet entered, white when data entered, and yellow when item is selected. Text colours are set as follows: grey when data not yet entered, black when data entered but it is a single scan reading, and blue when data entered manually or has two or more same scan value readings.
ADDING FOOD ITEMS : COPY FROM DATABASE
Before copying an item from the database, select the category by tapping on the title for the 'Food' tab. Then press the '+' button and choose the 'Copy USDA Database Item' option.
You will be presented with a list for items in the database. You enter words or portions of words and then press 'Search' to update the list with only those items that match your search terms. Note that this database does contain items for popular restaurants so you can enter the words to identify the restaurant - there may be data available. You will also likely use this database to gather data for foods you prepare that do not have nutrition labels.
When an appropriate food is displayed, press the arrow button to display nutrition data for the database item. You can press the arrow for the serving size to select a different serving size, if one is available in the database. Then press 'Save' to add the item to your selected personal food items category and you will be brought back to the database list so you can copy additional items. Repeat the steps to add more food items and then press 'Done' to return to the food category.
NOTE : Sometimes you will select items in the database that do not have complete nutrient data. Nutrients will be highlited in pink to indicate data was not found for that nutrient in the database.
A meal is simply a combination of multiple food items that are consumed together. You can tell VisuDiet you are consuming a meal instead of having to indicate each individual food item within a meal.
A meal will consist of food items already in your food categories. To create a meal, go to each category and simply select each food item in the meal - food items are blue when they are selected. You can change categories and select food items from other categories - they do not all have to be in the same category. So if you always have the same beverage for a particular meal, include it in the meal.
As soon as you select an item in a category, you will notice that the item changes to a blue colour, a number appears in a red circle (badge) in the 'Food' tab icon, and the '+' button disappears. When you tap on the category title, the a new option appears to 'Clear All Selections' and the number of items selected in each category is shown. Selecting items is a key concept used by VisuDiet and is used for building meals (and other reasons discussed later).
With all items in the meal selected, change the category to the appropriate meal category (breakfast/lunch/dinner). You will now see a '+' button and simply press that button. A view will appear where you enter a name for the meal and the serving sizes for each food item. Press the arrow on a food item to display information about the food item. You likely will need to see the serving size so you can enter the correct number of servings. Press 'Save' when done and a new item will appear in your meals list.
You can also edit a meal item - you may want to give a more distinct name, correct a serving size error, add a new food item, or remove a food item. When you update a meal, all previous consumption data uses your new values when comparing your consumption against your daily values. So if you really ate all the items in the meal but from this point on this meal is changed, then you should duplicate the meal, adjust accordingly, then save as a new meal. This ensures you keep your prior consumption accurate.
When you display an existing meal, there is a 'Duplicate this Meal' option at the bottom. Press it and you will be presented a new view where you can edit the meal details - you perform any of the editing actions just mentioned. You must edit the meal name - if you attempt to save with a meal name that already exists, you will be told to enter a new name.
MONITORING NUTRITION TARGETS
Monitoring your nutrient consumption is achieved using the 'Checkup' and 'History' Tabs. Each tab provides one touch options that allow you to see data for today, past week, past 30 days or any 30 day period. Arrows are often provided for food items or meals and allow you to quickly display complete nutrient details for the item.
The 'History' tab displays an itemized list showing each food or meal item for each day and the time it was entered into VisuDiet. It allows you to see which food items you have eaten in any day. You can edit the data if you have realized you made a mistake. When editing, you can delete an item from the list if you never actually consumed it, or if you press the arrow on a food item, you can edit the number of servings of that food item.
The 'Checkup' tab displays simple charts that show your consumption relative to your daily targets for each nutrient based on the foods eaten in each day. When you choose a multi-day selection, a summary chart shows average daily consumption for the entire period as well as charts for each day.
For any day chart, you can tap on a nutrient chart arrow and it will show you each food or meal item consumed that day and its percent of daily value for the serving size consumed. This allows you to quickly see how each food contributes to the overall daily value for a nutrient.
Sometimes food items do not have complete data. If any food item that contribute to a days's nutrient chart is missing data, its background colour will be set to pink to indicate it has missing data.
Viewing all nutrient data for multiple days can produce large reports. If you are only focused on one nutrient, you can tailor the reports to only that nutrient. Simply select the 'Settings/Info' Tab, choose the 'Nutrients to Track' option, and ensure only those nutrients you want to view are displayed. Press the 'Checkup' tab and now only those nutrients are displayed. Make sure to go back and reselect all the nutrients you were originally tracking.
ADJUSTING FOR NUTRITION BALANCE
This section describes how you can use features of the app to help achieve better nutrition balance.
The 'Checkup' tab provides the ability to show daily values for meals or food items selected (i.e. blue) in your food categories. Simply select items in any of the categories (including meal categories) and then press the 'Checkup' tab. A yellow bar at half the normal height is displayed showing how the selected items contribute to your daily values. This provides immediate information and hopefully influences you to choose a snack that achieves nutritional balance.
As you use the program, you can use the meal feature to help adjust your diet to achieve better nutrition balance. Sometimes all you need to do is look at your meals and substitute one item within a meal which can make a big difference to achieving better nutrition balance. With the ability to select meals, the ability to duplicate and edit meals, you can easily create 'temporary' variations of meals in your list. You can then select meals and see how they will contribute to your daily values. When you have a proper combination, you can leave them selected and they become your meal plan for the day.
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