By: Brent Hanson
When I was asked to write this article, my first thought was, “Oh, boy, this should be fun.” But as I started my research, I found that I was way behind the curve in my understanding of the importance of tracking my food intake.
As people with diabetes, we must monitor our food intake and make the necessary adjustments to our diets so that we can live, feel good and enjoy our lives to the fullest. We all know the sluggishness and fatigue we feel when we don’t eat right. I would venture to say that most of us make the choices of what to eat on a daily basis with little knowledge of what is actually in the foods.
It’s important for us to get into a mindset acknowledging that if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will. Many of us live in families where we are the only one with diabetes. Other family members might not understand the importance of really watching food intake. We have to take the lead in maintaining our own health and well-being.
As I searched for software programs to help with tracking food intake and the many different elements associated with various foods, I came to realize the large number of products on the market—many more than can be mentioned here. But I did run across two products in particular that I was very impressed with.
Recipe Calc 4.0
The first is called Recipe Calc 4.0, written by Mark Muller.
Recipe Calc allows you to input your favorite recipes using a huge database of food information that is preloaded into the program. As you add the ingredients, serving sizes, quantities and measurements, the program calculates the nutritional facts for the recipe, including calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber and protein.
One handy feature is the ability to e-mail your recipes to family or friends with a simple click of your mouse. When you e-mail your recipes, they are already formatted and look very professional.
Recipe Calc 4.0 can be downloaded over the Internet at one of these two locations:
You can use the software for a 20-day trial period, after which you can purchase it for $24.
Recipe Calc was written for the Microsoft Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000 operating systems.
The other impressive software program is a product called Life Form by Fitnesoft (www.fitnesoft.com). Life Form is a much more robust software program that focuses not only on food and nutrition but also on other aspects of total fitness and weight control.
Life Form has the same type of “recipe” function that allows you to create or add recipes to the program and get nutritional facts for a particular recipe or food type. However, that’s where the proverbial “fork in the road” (no pun intended) comes into play.
Life Form offers a considerable number of features beyond just calculating fat grams and carbohydrate content of various foods. It also allows you to enter personal information such as the following:
- Current height and weight
- Age and sex
- Physician information
- Pharmacy information
- Medical conditions
- Daily food intake (fats, saturated fat, protein and carbohydrates, including dietary fiber and sugars)
- Ratings of anxiety, anger, fatigue and other emotional factors
- History of daily events (doctor visits, illness and medication, for example)
- Graphs of calories consumed/burned over a period of time
The Life Form product is an exceptional value and is available to download for a free 21-day trial. If you download the program from the Internet and feel that you do not need a manual to help you use it (the program has a built-in online help feature that will answer 99 percent of your questions), you can then purchase the program for $39. No CD is included. If you want a CD and a manual, you can pay an additional $10 to have Fitnesoft send them to you, for a total of $49. Outside the United States, the price is $54.
Either of these programs is an exceptional value. If you are interested in a complete food and health tracking system, Life Form is your best bet. If, on the other hand, you simply want to track daily caloric, fat and carbohydrate intake, Recipe Calc 4.0 will do the job just fine.