Diet Sleuth Main Window

Last Thursday’s lunch

One of the problems in carbohydrate counting is figuring out how many grams of carbohydrate are in any given meal. I explained last week how I weigh my food whenever possible. But to get from that to the number of grams of carbohydrate, protein and fat are in a meal, I use a program called Diet Sleuth. This is a program designed for Mac, though a Windows version is available. There are things that have me screaming at it, but I’d have a much harder time controlling my diabetes without it.

The first figure is the main window, with my lunch for last Wednesday selected. (To enlarge the image, click on it.) Double clicking on a food brings up a window to add the food to a meal, with a variety of

Diet Sleuth Entry Window

Entry window for adding a food not in the database

serving sizes or number of grams. I use grams to enter except for the cherries. Since they are pretty uniform in size and one cherry is one of the portion sizes given, I just fill in the number of cherries (10 in this case) and let the program calculate the grams.

The program comes with a large database of foods, based on the USDA database of nutrients. It also has a number of prepared foods, including frozen dinners, fast foods, and snacks. You can easily add any packaged food with a nutrition label. The second figure shows the window for adding a food, filled in.

You can also add recipes. This is particularly useful when you make a large quantity of something and freeze it in serving-size portions. The cookie recipe shown comes up per cookie, but it’s impossible to make every cookie the same, so I go by grams when I’m actually eating one. The only ingredient not in the

Added recipe for Florentine cookies

Florentine cookies, showing window for adding a recipe.

included food database was the candied orange peel, which I added from the package. (By the way, these cookies store very well in the freezer, and I’ll probably make a larger batch next Christmas when candied orange peel is again available. But I rarely eat more than one at a time.)

Problems? Loss of data when I change versions or upgrade my operating system! This is a real problem with added food items and recipes. (It is also the reason I do not guarantee that the version shown is the latest.) There is also a minor bug that puts the “duplicate” button in the middle of the expanded data entry window instead of at the bottom with the other buttons, but I didn’t even know that one existed until I was trying to capture the windows for this blog.

There is another problem that comes up with using any nutrition database: all fruits of the same kind, for instance, are not equal. Take an apple, for instance. Apples vary enormously in sweetness and carbohydrate content per gram. They also vary a great deal by size, if you want to use the “per apple” option rather than per gram. The sizes given don’t often agree with what’s available in the supermarket. That can be addressed by using grams, but the sweetness cannot. Neither can bones in meat.

All in all I’d recommend it as an excellent meal planning tool. You can even use it to keep track of your weight. Just don’t count on it for saving your recipes!