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JJeffreyBragg

CRON-O-Meter Frustrations

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Finally I got my gumption up to try CRON-O-Meter (the online version), as of yesterday. I made it through yesterday and half of today, but suppertime proved too much for me and the app -- I'm all done with it. Frustrating, because the concept is a grand one, even if the app itself is a little clunky (at least on a cheap, touchy notebook computer like the msi I'm using).

 

I do my own cooking, cook things like hot cereal mixes for breakfast, soups and stews for supper, and freeze them down in individual meal portions to reduce the daily workload. My recipes somewhat resemble those in the Roy Walford book's 14-day menu section, that is to say, adventurous ingredients and a fairly long list of them for each recipe. And I have quickly discovered that CRON-O-Meter's foods database just isn't up to the job. Today's supper entree was a mixed beans with ham and vegetables soup. The mixed dry legumes weren't in the DB; in fact not all of the individual beans in the mix were there! OK, there's a "create a food" function -- but to use it demands that one have access to a comprehensive nutritional analysis of each new food. Even if I knew where to go for that (and I'm not a nutritionist), who's got the time to enter that much data for a whole flock of missing food ingredients? Not I.

 

So once again it all comes down to support. CRON-O-Meter needs the attention of a fanatical, dedicated nutrition professional to work practically full time on the expansion of its foods database.

 

 

So it's back to the steno pad and the cheap ballpoint pens that only write half the time for me, unfortunately. I can see the enormous usefulness of being able to use CRON-O-Meter to quickly spot nutritional shortcomings in each day's menu, but if the menu's food ingredients aren't already there in the database it all remains an impossible dream. Sad, really.

 

Jeffrey :(

(Now down to BMI 21.9)

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Jeffery,

 

I am sorry you found CRON-O-METER frustrating. Any new tool requires some effort to achieve mastery, and I believe CRON-O-METER is worth the effort, especially at the price!

 

Aaron and his friends have put an enormous amount of work into making an open source nutrition program for the particular needs of us Calorie Restrictors. It has its limitations,

but it is much superior to DWIP, which was very unstable and ate my data a couple of times. CRONOMETER is a volunteer effort, a labor of love, and I take my hat off to Aaron and

the team who developed it.

 

 

All of the nutrition software and websites I've worked with in the States use the USDA database. As I live in Japan, I have had to enter a few Japanese foods from scratch, but have found many peculiar and unusual things in the USDA database too. Both Kelp and Laver (Nori) for example, are in it. I do enter a lot of recipes, however. I just checked, and they totaled 650 recipes and foods in 2012. That's almost two a day. Most of them are one-time or short term recipes, such as for a stirfry or a soup. I also weigh the rice in rice cooker when it is cooked and calculate the amount of water vrs dry brown rice. A smaller number of recipes are common foods that I will eat again and again, for example, although I don't eat it often, from time to time, I will have tempura, so I have a list of tempura recipes.

 

The USDA database contains many nutrients for each food item. If you have to enter a food manually, it is difficult to find data that complete in other databases. So for commercial products, I often estimate the quantities of the various items and then adjust them until they more-or-less produce the macronutrient breakdown on the label. For example, you mentioned mixed beans. The following is my "recipe" guesstimate for a mixed bean product available in Japan.

 

Ingredients

Description Amount Unit Calories

Soybeans, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 332g 468.1

Soybeans, mature cooked, boiled, without salt 261g 451.5

Beans, kidney, red, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt 190g 241.3

Beans, french, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt 167g 215.4

 

 

Entering 4-5 ingredients in a recipe doesn't take very long, and then you can immediately use it in your diary.

 

 

One of the very nice features of CRON- O-METER is that you can add negative amounts of ingredients. This is particularly useful in subtracting water lost in cooking.

One drawback is that the Android app doesn't currently allow recipe or food entry, so I still have to use my PC for that. But since I have started using my Android smart phone, I have been freed from keeping notes on a whiteboard and then transcribing them into the PC, which is what I had to do before. As long as the foods I am eating are in my database, I can enter the amounts on my smartphone, which is compact and less intrusive than the PC, which tends to disturb the dinner table more.

 

I don't think you are likely to find a nutrition program which has an extensive library beyond the USDA, but if you would like to try commercial software, Paul and Meredith at Living the CR Way recommend Nutribase Software.

 

Long life and health to you,

 

Dave

 

Finally I got my gumption up to try CRON-O-Meter (the online version), as of yesterday. I made it through yesterday and half of today, but suppertime proved too much for me and the app -- I'm all done with it. Frustrating, because the concept is a grand one, even if the app itself is a little clunky (at least on a cheap, touchy notebook computer like the msi I'm using).

 

I do my own cooking, cook things like hot cereal mixes for breakfast, soups and stews for supper, and freeze them down in individual meal portions to reduce the daily workload. My recipes somewhat resemble those in the Roy Walford book's 14-day menu section, that is to say, adventurous ingredients and a fairly long list of them for each recipe. And I have quickly discovered that CRON-O-Meter's foods database just isn't up to the job. Today's supper entree was a mixed beans with ham and vegetables soup. The mixed dry legumes weren't in the DB; in fact not all of the individual beans in the mix were there! OK, there's a "create a food" function -- but to use it demands that one have access to a comprehensive nutritional analysis of each new food. Even if I knew where to go for that (and I'm not a nutritionist), who's got the time to enter that much data for a whole flock of missing food ingredients? Not I.

 

So once again it all comes down to support. CRON-O-Meter needs the attention of a fanatical, dedicated nutrition professional to work practically full time on the expansion of its foods database.

 

 

So it's back to the steno pad and the cheap ballpoint pens that only write half the time for me, unfortunately. I can see the enormous usefulness of being able to use CRON-O-Meter to quickly spot nutritional shortcomings in each day's menu, but if the menu's food ingredients aren't already there in the database it all remains an impossible dream. Sad, really.

 

Jeffrey :(

(Now down to BMI 21.9)

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Let me be sure I understand correctly here -- does CRON-O-Meter access the entire USDA db file in its search, or are you suggesting that I need to become familiar with the USDA db myself to locate ingredients? I confess I've been avoiding that thus far. I will be honest and say that I'm a bit daunted by the challenges of the "ON" part of CRON. As I've said elsewhere, the "CR" part is relatively easy and straightforward but ON's a bear. I feel just now as though I really need to be a graduate nutritionist to do this thing correctly. I've spent the past week chasing calorie data for Ready Reserve foods -- I have quite a quantity of RR food stores (nitrogen-packed long-term-storage dehydrates in #10 cans). RR pack high-quality, very satisfactory products but the company's behind the curve in nutritional data; their website doesn't post it, though their competitor Thrive has all their products nutrition-labelled onsite. And I find that even the company veep hasn't a clue about all this; they need the services of a nutritionist to come in and sort them out. And it's like that all over -- there seems to be little nutritional awareness in the North American food biz. Over and over again I run into obviously wrong data, inconsistent data, no data at all.

 

I see now why many CR practitioners settle on "standard meals" that they eat day after day. ("Heard about the oldtime sailor men, they'd eat the same thing again and again! Warm beer and bread they said could raise the dead, it reminds me of the menu at a Holiday Inn." -- Jimmy Buffett.) For someone like myself who tends to be a diversity feeder, ranging over a variety of ethnic cuisines and specialist ingredients, acquiring and using the nutritional data to do the Optimal Nutrition balancing act gets to be a formidable task with a very high investment in time and effort. I think glumly of the recent guy on the email list who seems to subsist on scissored-up cabbage and Purina Primate Lab Chow mostly. That's a high price to pay for nutritional balance. I find since I've been on CR for four months that I savour every mouthful that I do eat and I'd hate to quit *enjoying* my food, particularly since CR has given me a renewed appreciation for it.

 

The understanding has now sunk through to me that if one is to reap the benefits of CR, the ON part isn't optional. I am certain that, given the diversity and quality of my present dietary constituent ingredients, I must be doing relatively better than I was when I was eating more; my general health seems to bear that conclusion out as well. Nonetheless, it seems beyond argument that if one is existing on minimal calories, the diet ought to be monitored to be sure that it satisfies all *known* requirements of basic human nutrition insofar as possible. (I cannot help but think of what we DON'T know versus what we do, and to recall how inconsistent scientific nutritionists' take on various foods has been over time, with dramatic reversals of position a regular feature of their public pronouncements.)

 

I did not intend to disparage the efforts of the volunteer developers of CRON-O-Meter. Most of my frustration is with the incompleteness of the database. Please, Dave, clarify for me if you will, whether I need to go directly to the USDA db to search uncommon ingredients or whether CRON-O-Meter is already doing that.

 

BTW my "mixed beans" product was a comnmercial mix *similar to, but not packed by the same people as, this one:* "Ingredients: Contains 15 of these varieties: Northern, Pinto, Large Lima, Blackeye, Garbanzo, Baby Lima, Green Split Pea, Kidney, Cranberry Bean, Small White, Pink Bean, Small Red, Yellow Split Pea, Lentil, Navy, White Kidney, Black Bean, Pearl Barley." And that's just an analogue to what I was actually using, which was from a bulk source with no ingredients list. I'd need to make a SWAG about the actual ingredients and their relative proportions. I haven't the spare time for so much research!

Edited by JJeffreyBragg

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Guest Andrea

Jeffery,

 

I am sorry you found CRON-O-METER frustrating. Any new tool requires some effort to achieve mastery, and I believe CRON-O-METER is worth the effort, especially at the price!

 

Aaron and his friends have put an enormous amount of work into making an open source nutrition program for the particular needs of us Calorie Restrictors. It has its limitations,

but it is much superior to DWIP, which was very unstable and ate my data a couple of times. CRONOMETER is a volunteer effort, a labor of love, and I take my hat off to Aaron and

the team who developed it.

 

 

All of the nutrition software and websites I've worked with in the States use the USDA database. As I live in Japan, I have had to enter a few Japanese foods from scratch, but have found many peculiar and unusual things in the USDA database too. Both Kelp and Laver (Nori) for example, are in it. I do enter a lot of recipes, however. I just checked, and they totaled 650 recipes and foods in 2012. That's almost two a day. Most of them are one-time or short term recipes, such as for a stirfry or a soup. I also weigh the rice in rice cooker when it is cooked and calculate the amount of water vrs dry brown rice. A smaller number of recipes are common foods that I will eat again and again, for example, although I don't eat it often, from time to time, I will have tempura, so I have a list of tempura recipes.

 

The USDA database contains many nutrients for each food item. If you have to enter a food manually, it is difficult to find data that complete in other databases. So for commercial products, I often estimate the quantities of the various items and then adjust them until they more-or-less produce the macronutrient breakdown on the label. For example, you mentioned mixed beans. The following is my "recipe" guesstimate for a mixed bean product available in Japan.

 

Ingredients

Description Amount Unit Calories

Soybeans, green, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 332g 468.1

Soybeans, mature cooked, boiled, without salt 261g 451.5

Beans, kidney, red, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt 190g 241.3

Beans, french, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt 167g 215.4

 

 

Entering 4-5 ingredients in a recipe doesn't take very long, and then you can immediately use it in your diary.

 

 

One of the very nice features of CRON- O-METER is that you can add negative amounts of ingredients. This is particularly useful in subtracting water lost in cooking.

One drawback is that the Android app doesn't currently allow recipe or food entry, so I still have to use my PC for that. But since I have started using my Android smart phone, I have been freed from keeping notes on a whiteboard and then transcribing them into the PC, which is what I had to do before. As long as the foods I am eating are in my database, I can enter the amounts on my smartphone, which is compact and less intrusive than the PC, which tends to disturb the dinner table more.

 

I don't think you are likely to find a nutrition program which has an extensive library beyond the USDA, but if you would like to try commercial software, Paul and Meredith at Living the CR Way recommend Nutribase Software.

 

Long life and health to you,

 

Dave

 

 

Hi Dave,

 

I am almost 70 years old and not very "techy". I have used many nutrition programs and find Cron-o-Meter to be the most user friendly I have ever encountered.

 

You mentioned adding "negative" amounts. Please explain that further. I asked a question about how to account for lost liquid in cooking but cannot remember the answer. I make a recipe of my almond flour and flax crackers. After they are baked, how do I reconcile the weight after baking to the original? Do I weigh the finished product in its entirety and use a ratio to the unbaked batter? What I have been doing is not weighing each cracker when I eat it but estimating the nutrients by dividing the entire recipe by the number of servings (crackers) I get. This is not very precise.

 

Thanks

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Hi Jeffrey, I've simplified the foods that I eat so that CRON reporting is easier. Complex foods are often processed foods and should be avoided. I'm glad to see that you're taking the ON portion of CRON seriously. Don't let the frustration stop you from getting healthy thru CRON practice. Also, you can't expect the FDA to test every food that's sold in the USA and put it into a database. The taxes would be unsupportable.

The other thing I should note is that your taste buds will improve as the quality of the foods you eat improves. Then veggies will taste really good. In fact I really find great enjoyment each time I eat. My food tastes great every day. Getting rid of the processed foods like breads, flour, sugars etc really helps improve your sense of taste and this makes CRON a lot more livable.

If I was short for time, I'd use this entry:

Beans, baked, canned, no salt added

in cronometer. Also complex foods are required to list ingredients in descending order, so you'd probably be good if you added just the top 3 or 4 beans into a new recipe.

Cheers,

Keith

Edited by keithsct

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Guest Chaya

Dear Jeffrey,

 

I just use the nutrition information on the back of product packages to enter new foods into CRON-O-Meter.

 

Sincerely,

Chaya

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Yes, of course, Chaya. But for many bulk products, imports especially, that information just isn't available; the same for wild and natural products. I bought a package of frozen lake smelt in the local super; no idea where they came from, they weren't local to my area for sure; no nutritional info! One also runs into situations in which the package info disagrees significantly with the tables in Dr. Walford's book and/or with the USDA database. Often for simple, basic items in which the probability of much difference from one source to the next is low. All too often I've found these nutrition labels to be "not too particular, not too precise" (again quoting Jimmy Buffett's "Cheeseburger in Paradise"). And of course the nutrition labels don't carry the detailed micronutrient breakdowns found in the USDA database with which CRON-O-Meter performs its balancing act. It just isn't quite as simple as it would seem at first look. If one truly attempts "Optimum Nutrition" on minimum calories then that micronutrient balancing act isn't optional, it's mandatory.

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