10

votes

Anybody interested in paleo-based comprehensive nutrient calculator/menu planning software?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 11, 2012 at 6:03 AM

Hey all,

So I've developed a paleo/PHD/Primal-based tool that uses an algorithm and tons of data to calculate the nutritional value of recipes, and will use that information to automatically plan a week's worth of meals for you. It will also, based on the recipes in the program and the number of people you specify are eating at each meal, automatically generate a shopping list with precise quantities of the food items you need to procure.

The algorithm analyzes the ingredients of each recipe, taking into account every macronutrient and every vitamin and mineral as well as propensity of the food to cause inflammation and its acidity. It also takes into account cooking methods and the changes in nutrition that those cause.

From all this information the algorithm will assign recipes with the highest nutritional value to your menu. If the user wants to change the meals used for the menu and to generate the shopping list, he can just select a different meal for that slot. But the algorithm itself is capable of providing a menu with multiple hundreds of percent of RDAs for almost every nutrient, with balanced 3-to-6 ratios, ideal fat-carb-protein ratios (even accounting for different types of fat), balanced mineral ratios, high anti-inflammatory activity, and good levels of alkalinity. The user can set ideal ranges for carb, fat, and protein levels, total calorie levels, and so on.

It also produces a nice summary sheet with graphs and pie charts showing a summary of your nutrient intake for the week.

This tool has become invaluable in my own meal planning and grocery shopping, and is instrumental in ensuring that I am getting healthy amounts of nutrients. What I would like to know is if anyone else is interested in using this tool, and if so, if you would be willing to help me refine it for general release. It would of course be free to the community at large.

Currently I've got over 200 recipes (most Paleo/Primal/etc) from various books, and about 150 or so foods (from the USDA food-testing database) inputted. But to make this complete, I need more recipes and more food/ingredient data. Since this planning tool is basically a really complex Excel workbook, we could use Google Docs to work collaboratively on the data entry. If anyone wants to help iron out the kinks in the appearance or functioning of the workbook, that would also be useful.

Any takers for helping out--or, barring that, anyone interested in just using this planner?

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on May 17, 2012
at 09:42 PM

Sorry about the typos, I'm typing on android. Basically I'm saying if you tell the paleo track (or another programer) how you made your excel program work, s/he would be able to use it on his program.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on May 17, 2012
at 09:38 PM

I realize that. But like I said you seem good at making algorithims. Even if you can't program you can help programmers by giving them algorithms. You tell them what you wat and how to do it, then the programmer translates it into code. My boyfriend is like you, good with excell and at msking algorithms. I've made him programs when he tells me what he wants and how tk do it. Your excell algorithm would be a wonderful contribution to an existing paleo tracker.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on May 06, 2012
at 05:24 AM

To continue: Hence, since I could not and cannot now proceed down other paths to obtain my goal--nutrient optimal, efficient, and tasty menus generated with little effort--I will continue with my current project. If anyone wants to program this in a programming language, make it available online, and so on I'm more than willing to work with him/her, but otherwise I'm going to have to continue with this path. And I would suggest to others that even if this project duplicates some efforts, it's better than waiting years for someone to make it into something more official.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on May 06, 2012
at 05:19 AM

Thanks for your answer, Luisa. However, I must disagree that this is a waste of time. I'm not a programmer, which is why this nutrition worksheet is built using Excel functions and macros. This is also why I can't make use of APIs. Therefore, I couldn't contribute much to other existing software projects other than to give ideas. Unfortunately, none of the sites you linked to are capable of doing what my nutrition calculator can do-- esp. generating full weeks' menus with precise and customizable specifications and creating a shopping list.

5fb654380d04ac372b750ca3faad2e99

(277)

on March 08, 2012
at 11:03 PM

I'm interested too

E0250b1e6dc5ec1539ffb745042b4d80

(3651)

on March 08, 2012
at 12:17 PM

"..I do not like a software deciding what and when I'm going to eat.." maybe version 2.0 will have a SAD dietitian that tells you everything wrong, and you do the opposite instead!

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on February 12, 2012
at 03:37 PM

Eventually I would like to, once I'm able to transition it into a different programming format.

78ecfc8268ec58cdc189301f4b071088

(1670)

on February 12, 2012
at 12:22 PM

Yes, Yes, Yes!!!!!! Please, I'd LOVE IT!!!!!!

22fd82abf435768244f8d074430cd1e6

(590)

on February 12, 2012
at 08:55 AM

Cool. Are you planning on releasing a mobile version?

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on February 12, 2012
at 12:27 AM

Currently the software is on an Excel spreadsheet, so it's not something I've programmed. This makes it easier to edit, and you'd be surprised how complex of things Excel allows you to do. I can send a copy to anyone interested. I'll upload it to a file-sharing site and then provide the link.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on February 12, 2012
at 12:24 AM

I am familiar with it, and it is useful for tracking basic foods, but it didn't fulfill all of my needs so I decided to take my own path. The biggest things that cronometer lacked that I needed were means of evaluating recipes easily and an algorithm for creating an ideal menu.

0607529af9b78bb5b178f7ffabdc4693

(701)

on February 11, 2012
at 10:16 PM

Can we take a look and see what we're working with?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on February 11, 2012
at 07:13 PM

Is it opensource?

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on February 11, 2012
at 03:24 PM

It also give you options. Suppose you told it to calculate a menu for you. You'd then have a grid, like a calendar, of meals. You can select any box in the grid and a drop-down menu appears with other meals you can switch to. The powerful thing about this is that in the drop-down menu, the meals will have already been sorted by how much their nutrients will contribute to your diet that week (so if you lack, say, iodine, iodine-containing meals will rank higher). So if you don't follow the program's recommendations, you will have the information needed to get the next best thing.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on February 11, 2012
at 08:39 AM

It doesn't go against what's available in season etc - just cook what's in season. The software doesnt decide what you are going to eat. the software just tells you the nutritional info, you decide what you will be eating.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on February 11, 2012
at 07:56 AM

This sounds awesome! I would totally use that.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on February 11, 2012
at 07:29 AM

I am willing to help.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on February 11, 2012
at 07:20 AM

I should add for anyone interested in helping that the time investment could be anything from very minimal (5 minutes to enter recipe ingredients into the publicly-shared Google Spreadsheet) to whatever you want to contribute. If anyone's willing to help, I'll give you more details.

Aca640964c224f175fe42449dd86c502

(20)

on February 11, 2012
at 06:44 AM

**I'd love to use it!

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16 Answers

2
Aca640964c224f175fe42449dd86c502

on February 11, 2012
at 06:43 AM

Sounds like an awesome idea! I love to use it!

Aca640964c224f175fe42449dd86c502

(20)

on February 11, 2012
at 06:44 AM

**I'd love to use it!

1
Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on April 19, 2012
at 10:20 AM

Hey everyone. Thanks for all the replies! It's good to know so many people are interested. Sorry I haven't followed up with this for a while. I've just moved to Japan, so I was busy getting everything set up with life here. However, I have prepared two Google Documents that will allow you to help with the project.

Basically, you can help in one of two ways at this point:

1) There is a spreadsheet with food nutrition information. There are many foods on this list (on the bottom) that have not been filled in yet. So here you can help by putting in the numbers of nutrients (like mg of each vitamin) for those foods. You can also add new foods if they do not yet exist on the list. This spreadsheet is here, and I have made it public for you to edit: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Anb3qAsfos0LdHRoQUxpbkFYdm9BM0x6WlhJMEJSZWc#gid=0

You can get the information for the foods from http://nutritiondata.self.com/

As of now there are over 200 foods with info. Entering the information this way is just a temporary solution; when I create a version of this program in a programming language I will import the USDA database. So entering foods into this section is of secondary priority, although it will enable more immediate results.

2) The most important thing you can do to help is to add recipes and recipe information. Currently I've compiled over 200, but we need a lot more. The recipe list is here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Anb3qAsfos0LdHhYMHJEUTVwMlJzOFd5Z0E1NlZQckE#gid=0

To add a recipe, simple add a new line, and put the information into the appropriate slots. The leftmost space indicates the serving amount for the recipe. Following the recipe name, you will see spaces for ingredients and after each of these is a space for the number. The ingredients must correspond exactly to the name of one of the foods in the Foods list (linked above). The number indicates a multiple of the serving amount displayed next to the food in the Foods list.

If the recipe calls for a food that is not in the Foods list, please add at least the name of the food to the Foods list. If you just add the name of the food, place it at the bottom. If you enter all of the information, please put it in the appropriate section. If you add recipes from a book that is not listed (or that you have invented), please create a new section and bold the title.

Please also put the page number of the book from which you obtained the recipe.

I will send the Excel file for the current program to anyone who is interested, and will write some instructions. Would you prefer file-sharing or email? I will also send new versions are more foods and recipes are added.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for all the offers of help!

1
22fd82abf435768244f8d074430cd1e6

(590)

on February 11, 2012
at 07:49 AM

This sound like quality software and something that might be useful, in my opinion, for a 30 day paleo start.

Nevertheless I would not use such tool on a weekly base as it goes against the paleo idea of eating what's available or in season, and most importantly I do not like a software deciding what and when I'm going to eat.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on February 11, 2012
at 03:24 PM

It also give you options. Suppose you told it to calculate a menu for you. You'd then have a grid, like a calendar, of meals. You can select any box in the grid and a drop-down menu appears with other meals you can switch to. The powerful thing about this is that in the drop-down menu, the meals will have already been sorted by how much their nutrients will contribute to your diet that week (so if you lack, say, iodine, iodine-containing meals will rank higher). So if you don't follow the program's recommendations, you will have the information needed to get the next best thing.

C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on February 11, 2012
at 08:39 AM

It doesn't go against what's available in season etc - just cook what's in season. The software doesnt decide what you are going to eat. the software just tells you the nutritional info, you decide what you will be eating.

22fd82abf435768244f8d074430cd1e6

(590)

on February 12, 2012
at 08:55 AM

Cool. Are you planning on releasing a mobile version?

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on February 12, 2012
at 03:37 PM

Eventually I would like to, once I'm able to transition it into a different programming format.

E0250b1e6dc5ec1539ffb745042b4d80

(3651)

on March 08, 2012
at 12:17 PM

"..I do not like a software deciding what and when I'm going to eat.." maybe version 2.0 will have a SAD dietitian that tells you everything wrong, and you do the opposite instead!

0
63562b60c80070731fdbe282a67105d2

on March 19, 2013
at 03:53 PM

Hi Curt, please could you send me the the spreadsheet that does the calculations?

0
362fb775e5a1990406bd4e67e05d51a4

on May 10, 2012
at 01:12 AM

I would love to be able to use a program like this!

I also might be able to help on the programming end, but I can't make any promises. I would be very curious to know how you developed an algorithm like that because it sounds like it would be extremely complicated. But if you already have one, programming it shouldn't be all that hard.

0
19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on May 02, 2012
at 10:01 PM

Yes, yes yes! I liked the idea behind SparkPeople meal plans, except it always recommended really unhealthy foods.

But I have a question, why reinvent the wheel? The information being placed in this spreadsheet is a ridiculous waste of effort. There are free APIs out there http://platform.fatsecret.com/api/ so people don't have to input info all over again.

Instead, you could collaborate with the person making PaleoTrack. Paleotrack has an option to add Recipes. http://paleotrack.com/recipes/new

You could work with him to add some extra features, like:
default recipes,
user submitted recipes for everyone to search and use,
maybe even user-submitted recipe pictures? could be hosted at flickr.
user added recipe tags: winter, summer, vlc, zero carb, christmas, breakfast, etc.
and most importantly, an algorithm to recommend recipes based on nutrients, which you seem to have done already.
and how about this: automatically show suggestions for next week's menu, based on nutrient deficiencies in the past week. Or something like that. Should be an off/on option.

What I'd really love is if PaleoTrack was available in github/subversion/whatever, so people can work together on it. Then those who can code could improve that website. Even if you can't code, it seems you're capable of making algorithms which is the most important thing.

I think it's best to improve existing software instead of starting new, marginal software. I'd be more likely to help if it was part of a bigger tool like PaleoTrack.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on May 06, 2012
at 05:24 AM

To continue: Hence, since I could not and cannot now proceed down other paths to obtain my goal--nutrient optimal, efficient, and tasty menus generated with little effort--I will continue with my current project. If anyone wants to program this in a programming language, make it available online, and so on I'm more than willing to work with him/her, but otherwise I'm going to have to continue with this path. And I would suggest to others that even if this project duplicates some efforts, it's better than waiting years for someone to make it into something more official.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on May 06, 2012
at 05:19 AM

Thanks for your answer, Luisa. However, I must disagree that this is a waste of time. I'm not a programmer, which is why this nutrition worksheet is built using Excel functions and macros. This is also why I can't make use of APIs. Therefore, I couldn't contribute much to other existing software projects other than to give ideas. Unfortunately, none of the sites you linked to are capable of doing what my nutrition calculator can do-- esp. generating full weeks' menus with precise and customizable specifications and creating a shopping list.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on May 17, 2012
at 09:38 PM

I realize that. But like I said you seem good at making algorithims. Even if you can't program you can help programmers by giving them algorithms. You tell them what you wat and how to do it, then the programmer translates it into code. My boyfriend is like you, good with excell and at msking algorithms. I've made him programs when he tells me what he wants and how tk do it. Your excell algorithm would be a wonderful contribution to an existing paleo tracker.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on May 17, 2012
at 09:42 PM

Sorry about the typos, I'm typing on android. Basically I'm saying if you tell the paleo track (or another programer) how you made your excel program work, s/he would be able to use it on his program.

0
Df856e9f744f69f22b70ec29fcb0e0e1

on March 08, 2012
at 07:05 PM

I'd definitely be happy to help with this!

0
0e6e00692b5ae13bb3007bb85dd55cf7

on March 08, 2012
at 11:29 AM

I would be happy to be part of this

0
Ac21ac05b7df36ec379f74a642c702f8

on February 11, 2012
at 11:27 PM

sure. Let me know how I can help.

0
D222f742a36ef8629e059bad53f00a85

on February 11, 2012
at 09:11 PM

Are you guys familiar with this software.

http://cronometer.com/

It allows you to track what your eating, as well as, input items not found in the database.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30

(463)

on February 12, 2012
at 12:24 AM

I am familiar with it, and it is useful for tracking basic foods, but it didn't fulfill all of my needs so I decided to take my own path. The biggest things that cronometer lacked that I needed were means of evaluating recipes easily and an algorithm for creating an ideal menu.

0
E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

on February 11, 2012
at 06:01 PM

YES (and more characters to meet charcter limit)

0
6536d6111f228e65e1371e08938fac6c

(10)

on February 11, 2012
at 05:00 PM

Yes please, I'd love to try it!!

0
273729a18d2f18903815d2644a4d64de

(1683)

on February 11, 2012
at 02:55 PM

I'm interested in trying it out!!!!!! It sounds awesome!

0
506979b135f482570b5f1873d94c1781

on February 11, 2012
at 02:41 PM

Sounds like a great project and I'm willing to use it and help !

0
C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on February 11, 2012
at 08:37 AM

I would love to use it and may be able to help.

0
Bebd2a7c9d2836cf380a1f52bceeb926

on February 11, 2012
at 08:27 AM

I'm willing to help with this.

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