You've just downloaded some funky looking diet software, installed it and now you're looking to see what it's like. One of the first things you do is try to add some food item or meal to see how easy it is and what sort of results you get, peering around the screen for clues and jabbing at likely-looking buttons.
If you've tried more than one brand here you may notice a distinct difference in the design mindset.
Some software, notably those aimed specifically at diet and nutrition rather than exercise or workouts, will follow the apparantly logical course of grouping food items into folders and catagories.
This makes sense on the face of it. Breakfast cereal should perhaps have it's own folder, while meat products should go in another, right?
And lets put all chocolate cereals into their own folder and all beef products into their own sub folder, chicken in another folder...
It's all very logical but..
To explain my dislike of the folder system, I'll ask you a question. When you found this site did you first go to the "software" folder, then open the sub-folder for "PC software", then the sub-sub-folder for "Downloadable", then the next folder for "Home use", then the next one for "Health", then the next one for "diet"?
And the real killer question - did you find some of the diet software out there is designed for professional trainers, gyms and clubs and not at all what you wanted?
For first question has the answer "No", you just typed "diet software" (or something similar) into a search box and looked at the options.
Let's suppose we did use folders - where would you put the professional trainer diet software?
Home use? Yes, as often the $1,500+ packages some trainers use may have an 'orphan' program given to the client which is used weekly or monthly to update the trainer's copy so he or she can see what you've been up to.
But $1,500 is a bit more than you were thinking of spending, right? So it would be in the "wrong" section.
But it's also the "right" section.
Should bacon be in the "Breakfast" folder or the "Meat" folder?
Perhaps it should be in both?
The attempt to be logical actually fails when it comes to food and diet pretty much like it does on the internet in general.
Using folders has a great advantage to the diet software company - it sells more product.
When a new user downloads or pops the program CD into their machine it seems logical and relatively easy to find stuff. You click on an obvious looking folder, then the next obvious folder, then another, and another, and another, then... BINGO!
There it is!
You feel almost rewarded for being so smart as to find the thing and naturally conclude the software is very logical and smart too.
How would you feel though if after clicking folder after folder you eventually find it was never there to start with? What then? Back up and go off on another sniffing scent trail?
Sooner or later, if you're a regular computer and or internet user, you'll find yourself looking for the "Search" button.
It's what works best on the internet and every other type of software you use. It's also the best for diet software!
The downside to performing a search is that at first glance it seems less accurate, a bit of a stab in the dark.
You type in "bacon" and you're presented with:
Meatless bacon? Wha'? Cereals? Where's the rashers?
Well scroll down a bit and there they are; there's only 18 entries to look through.
Even better, click on your rashers and then click "add to favorites", at which point they get even easier to find.
How many meals do you eat?
In reality very few people will eat more than perhaps 100 different items, so once you've added them to your favorite list finding them is very simple and very quick.
Virtually all diet software uses the USDA food database, though not all of them bother to screen through it and remove all the baby food and other gumpth. With up to 11,000 items in that database you could have 3 unique items per meal, with 3 different meals each day and it would take you nearly 3 1/5 years to get through them all!
With Biggly I've stripped it down to around 6,000 items and even then it's very unlikely you'll ever need more than a tiny little fraction. It's certainly true that it doesn't cover every possible brand name product but you just don't need to - because you don't eat every single brand name product!
Instead you should enter the names and nutritional information for the brands that you do eat, which are automatically added to your favorite list.
Trust me, it doesn't seem as "logical" at first but it's much quicker and more practical for daily use.
This article was inspired by user "Invictus" who asked:
"Nutrition tab: this was easy enough. The only part was finding what it was that I had eaten. I couldn't find a simple ham & turkey sandwich on there anywhere! As a suggestions you should break the foods choices into separate meals (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, etc); I didn't see any logical order to it and if the search doesn't turn up anything immediately then it's a pain to think up what you have for choices in there."
(Note - meal entries are in slots, but 6 of them, not "3 square meals" or "breakfast, lunch..." etc)
Clearly Invictus likes his turkey and ham sandwiches! If he tends to eat a commercial product he'll find the nutrtional data on the packet and can enter it as a custom food item.
If he makes his own he can search for each ingredient, put them together in one meal slot and then save that entire meal slot as a "Favorite Meal" (as opposed to item).
It then takes but a moment to select "Favortie food list" - then "ham" and there's your turkey and ham sandwich.