Food Counts (WARNING: rant!)

If an author wants to publish a book of food counts, are they required by law to take a special course to learn how to express counts in the least useful way? I have a shelf of food count books and they all go out of their way to give their numbers in measurements and quantities that make it as difficult as possible for the user to achieve anything like accuracy.

A completely representative example, chosen pretty much at random:

I like red bell peppers. So, how much should I eat to get 6 grams of carb? Well, let's see. Here's one of the popular food count books (I won't say which). It says that one half cup, chopped (coarse? fine? in between? who knows?), contains 4.8 grams. On the very next line, it says that one full cup sliced (long? short? wide? narrow? who knows?) contains 5.9. So, a full cup is only 23% more than a half cup. Uhhh . . . how's that again? Obviously the difference in the method of slicing (which we are not told) completely changes the result. Gee, that really helps me plan, now doesn't it??

Good kitchen scales are not expensive. I have a very nice one that cost a whole $45. In order to plan meals with accuracy -- or at least something in the general vicinity -- all I need now is a set of food counts expressed in units of weight, e.g., 1 ounce equals 3 grams of carb, etc. But do the books give you that? [That sound you hear in the distance is the authors and publishers, laughing.]

I don't know. Perhaps they're afraid that if they printed a book like that you'd only buy one, wouldn't need to keep searching, and they'd get no more sales.

Reading these books is like dealing with a government bureau. Instead of trying to help the user, they make a science of making it AS HARD AS POSSIBLE.

(end of rant)

Get an EatSmart scale. Best investment I made. It calculates carbs, protein, fat, sodium, etc. in ounces & grams for 999 preprogrammed foods. Beautifully designed. It also will keep items in memory if you're weighing numerous foods for a dish. Much more efficient & accurate than weighing & then looking up data to add. You can get a discount as a Tu member


Unfortunately the link for purchasing the scale appears to be broken ("page not found"). I did watch the video, however.

The concept behind this is good. However, I have some questions, and since you own one, you're the perfect person to ask.

(1) Since the link doesn't work, I'll ask you. What's the price?

(2) Is the built-in data base fixed, or can you add your own entries to it? How does it get updated with fresh information as time goes by?

Per-ounce measurements are what I am looking for. I'll check this out - thanx!

You said that you did not want to mention the names of the books, why? It would be appropriate to review books so that we don’t end up guessing also and spending money to experience what you did.

A couple of reasons.

(1) Due to recent experience with the legal system, I am gunshy. I admit it. I don't know whether or not mentioning the book by name on the internet could be construed as libel, and I do not intend to find out.

(2) As I implied in the original post, it doesn't make any %#!$% difference which book it is -- they all have the same problem. At least, I have yet to find one that doesn't. I picked one off the shelf pretty much at random.


I'll let Manny know that the discount link isn't working. I'd still try using the discount promo on the page to see if it's still valid. The price ordering through the EatSmart site is $69.99, but you could check around for a better price. I bought mine around 4 years ago & I think I paid around $70. I don't remember exactly what I paid. Definitely worth $70 for a well made, well designed precision scale that has this many features.

The data base is fixed. 999 pre-loaded foods is quite a lot. Rarely have I needed something that wasn't in the data base. That it includes info for raw & cooked is a big plus, in addition to fiber & other nutrients. I didn't know there was a difference between cooked & raw until I got an EatSmart. Makes sense, of course, but not something I considered when I started carb counting.

I bought an EatSmart, but I haven't found the time to practice with it. I kept on misplacing the code book for the pre-loaded data. It seemed like every time I went to input something, it wasn't in the pre-loaded selection. I don't have Calorie King, but I think I went to look at the book before Border's closed its doors and put it back down because they focus on fast food, prepared food, etc - Things I don't eat, at all. I need a book/website that focuses on whole food. I am sure that the carb count differs for the same vegetable within varieties. I can taste it. I find certain brands of peanut butter have a variable degree of sweetness even though the posted carb counts are the same.

Yours is the same reason I didn't buy a book. I've found the EatSmart easy to use. Going to be hard to locate anything that included varieties of the same vegetable. I've wondered how fruit can be calculated because carbs depend on the degree of ripeness. I only eat small amount of berries & I haven't been off dosing according to EatSmart values. Vegetables can also be different according to where they're grown, stored, etc., but no source could possibly take all that into account. Slight variations may be insignificant & balance out. It's never going to be totally exact & that's life. We can only do so much.

Agree completely. Total precision is impossible. Food varies, insulin varies, we vary, even from day to day. Perfection is a good goal to aim for but we shouldn't kid ourselves that it is achievable in this, the real world. We deal with variables and the task is to minimize the fluctuations and come as close as we can, as often as we can. There will be times when we miss. That's why we keep safety nets handy (glucose, insulin, exercise, etc.).

As you said, we can only do so much. We do that, move on, smell the roses and enjoy the view.

Yep. I don't want to be paralyzed by minutia, which can be a real trap with diabetes since we're always calculating & vainly attempting to factor in as many variables as possible. Smell the roses & enjoy the view--yes!

Before I was a PWD, I had to balance food allergies against my total allergy load and seasons. Superimpose carb counts, the volumes of different foods, the fat content and order in which fat is consumed, time of day, hydration, how fresh my last exercise was, how intense that exercise was, and how many hours I have slept and the task is daunting. I feel I have a computer in my head - which is another problem in that my laptop is always upstairs when I need it, and I frequently don't have the time to boot up in the middle of meal prep for others in my family PLUS me. I should just look up and create my own written list and post it on a cabinet door. I'm doing a good job so far with my last A1c of 5.1 after three years of LADA and a lot of stress from teenagers in my house, but it is a lot. I'm always looking for new ideas and treasure the support of this group. I'm not on insulin or pills, yet, so I've really got to pay attention. I even have to balance the type and amount of exercise along with time of day that I exercse to everything else so that I don't become injured or too painful with Rheumatoid Arthritis - because pain makes my numbers ris. Believe me, it is so easy to let myself go. I cope with variability of vegetable carbs by putting down my fork and giving them to my dh, eating raw when it is possible, and undercooking vegetables. Leeks, shallots, scallions and creamed soups, along with flaxmeal muffins, have been my greatest perks. BTW, I am an early diabetic, so I get immediately thirsty if the carb count is off, or maybe it is because I've been doing Berstein so long that I taste sweet variations. Lots of meal prep...BUT IT IS WORKING. I don't lose weight, but I'm down multiple sizes...

Oh, Shelia, that is daunting! Congratulations on three years with no meds or insulin & a fabulous A1c. A ton of work.


Thanx for the update. $70 isn't much for something I'll be using for the rest of my life, but if I can find a discount I certainly won't turn it down. I think I'm going to follow up Shawnmarie's lead as well. Having both will allow each to be used as a cross-check against the other. More information is better than less.

Followup -- Amazon is offering it for $62 right now. That's good enough for me.

Good deal. Hope you like it.

Thank you, Gerri. That means a lot. Summers always make my autoimmune flare. I worry that the diabetes will take a hit no matter what I do.

Understand the frustration, Sheila. All too much at once. You're doing beautifully & hope diabetes stays at bay. No one could possibly realize how much diligence it takes.

this must be a USA thing. Your recipes are always in cup measures. Here in Britain, our recipes are in grams and so are our food chemistry books. You could try searching Amazon for British books. I have the "Collins Little Gem Calorie Counter"
It lists Calories, Protein, Carbohydrates and Dietary fibre. All listed in Grams per hundred grams. there must be in the region of 3,500foods listed. the proprietary ones are probably only available in Britain, but many of the fresh things will be Global. You may have to learn some new names [ie Courgette for Zucchini] AND get useed to the idea that we list digestible and indigestible carbs separately.
However there's an excellent on-line food data info web site.
Ps The Little Gem is a TINY book and inexpensive.