photoDavid A Bendermonogram

 

The Foods You Eat: A computer program for food and nutrition studies

Copyright © David A Bender, 1986 - 2004

You can download a copy of this program by clicking here. This is a 4.7 MB file

This program is provided under a Creative Commons Licence. You are free to modify the database, but I must ask that you respect my copyright and acknowledge my original authorship. You may not sell this program.

Save the file foods.zip in a new folder, do not attempt to open it on-line. Depending on your browser, and other software on your computer, the file may or may not be saved with the extension .zip. If not, rename the file to give it the .zip extension, then open it with your archiving or zipping program, and extract all the files into the same folder.

Double click on the file foodcomp.exe and the program will run.

The program requires an IBM-compatible PC and a local or network disc that can be written to. The program will only run on an Apple Mac® computer if it has PC emulation software installed.

This program is provided under a Creative Commons Licence. You are encouraged to share it, and to add to the database, but only if my original copyright is acknowledged. You may not make commercial use of the program.

Although the information in this program is given in good faith, no responsibility or liability can be accepted for any errors, omisions or mishaps arising from use of the data and results provided.

This program was written to accompany the book Food Tables and Labelling (A E Bender and D A Bender, Oxford University Press, 1999). If you do not use this book and would like a program that provides a larger selection of foods, and data on more nutrients than The Foods You Eat, please see the information about the Food Composition program.

This program permits you to do the following:

Investigate the nutrients in foods, and compare the nutrient yields with reference values
Calculate the nutrient yields of meals and complete diets
Compare the nutrient yields of meals and diets with Reference Nutrient Intakes
Investigate foods that are rich sources of individual nutrients
Investigate energy needs, and how energy expenditure varies with physical activity
Simulate experiments to investigate the effect of varying energy intake on body weight
Simulate experiments to determine protein requirements
Investigate protein nutritional value and complementation between different proteins

There are screens to explain the theory involved: energy balance, protein requirements, protein quality and complementation, and notes on the nutrients.

The results of investigations may be saved for printing when the exercise is finished.


The files that are saved as the program runs – Your TEMP directory

The program attempts to locate your TEMP directory to write foodout.txt and foodout.csv; this should be set up in your system files. If it fails to find a TEMP directory, it will write files to c:\. If you have not set up a TEMP directory and do not have a writeable drive C: the program will crash. Any well set up network will have a defined TEMP directory for each user, and any stand-alone PC will or should have a writeable drive C:

If the program runs well for most users on a network, and fails for some users, this means that these people have filled or exceeded their TEMP file space on the network.

Screen appearance

The program has been written to ensure that all the information is visible using a screen resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. If the program is run using a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels then there is further information in a border below and to the right of the main screen. This is supplementary information, and sometimes pictures that fill the space but may not be considered very relevant; it is not visible when the program is run at 640 x 480 pixel resolution.

At higher screen resolution the information appears in a box at the top left of the screen; some users find it convenient to resize the window (using the standard Windows® resize button), and then keep two or more windows open at the same time, to compare results from different analyses.

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Nutrient analysis of foods

The program uses two separate databases of nutrient analysis, and you are offered the choice of which to use when you run it:

856 foods included in Food Tables and Labelling (A E Bender & D A Bender, Oxford University Press, 1999). Data are provided for the following nutrients: energy (kcal and kJ), protein, carbohydrate (sugars and starch), fat (saturated, mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fat), alcohol, percentage of energy from each of protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol; cholesterol, dietary fibre and non-starch polysaccharide, vitamin A (and carotene), vitamin B1, vitamin B2, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, sodium, calcium, iron, iodine.

470 foods included in Food Tables (A E Bender & D A Bender, Oxford University Press, 1986). Data are provided for the following nutrients: energy (kcal and kJ), protein, carbohydrate, fat (saturated, mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fat), alcohol, percentage of energy from each of protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol; dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, niacin, vitamin C, sodium, calcium, iron.

Food Tables and Labelling uses more recent analytical data than Food Tables, so there are differences in the values for some of the nutrients in some foods between the two databases.

The database contains Crown copyright material from the Composition of Foods 5th edition and its Supplements and has been reproduced under licence from the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

You may choose the foods to be analysed in two ways:

by number. The numbers used are the same as in Food Tables or Food Tables and Labelling, depending on which database you have chosen to use. The lists of numbers are included as Microsoft® Word files on the disc and are installed on your computer when you run the install program (ftnum.doc for the shorter database and ftlnum.doc for the full database). These files may be read into any word-processing software, and may be copied freely for class use.

by browsing the supermarket. You are offered a series of supermarket counters (e.g. greengrocery, meat, bread and cereals, fish, take-away and prepared foods, etc). This leads you on to more detailed counters, then on to a list of foods that you would expect to find there. Clicking on a food name leads you to the analysis. For convenience, a number of foods appear in several different places.

Once you have selected a food to be analysed, you are offered the choice of using the average serving (where this is appropriate) or entering the amount of food consumed (in grams, or mL for liquids).

The analysis of the food is shown together with the percentage of the labelling Reference Intake provided by the amount eaten in the same way as a full nutritional label would give you this information.

You are then offered the option of adding this food to one of four meals, in which case the analysis is automatically saved for printing out when you end the program. You may also choose not to add the food to any meal, in which case the analysis is not saved for printing.

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Comparison of meals and diets with Reference Intakes

When you have entered foods into one or more meals, you can see the summary of the nutrient content of the meal, or the complete diet, and compare it with Reference Intakes for a specific group of individuals (based on age, gender, etc), or with the labelling Reference Values.

When you start the program you are given the choice of using one of the following three sets of Reference Intakes:

The UK 1991 Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNI)
The USA 1989 Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA)
The European Union 1993 Population Reference Intakes (PRI)

You are given the choice of saving any of the summaries and comparisons with Reference Intakes for printing later, or not, as you wish.

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Investigating sources of nutrients

One of the advantages of using a computerised database for nutrient analysis of foods is that it is also easy to look for foods that are rich sources of individual nutrients - something that is extremely tedious using printed tables of food composition.

This program permits you to investigate sources of vitamins A, D, E, B1, B2, niacin, B6, C, folate, calcium, iron and iodine. When you choose which nutrient to investigate, you are shown a brief summary of the key information about that nutrient (including notes on toxicity, supplements, etc). You then choose which range of intake you want to find - from foods that are sources of the nutrient (providing 10-15% of the Reference Intake in an average serving) up to extremely rich sources, which provide more than 50% of the Reference Intake in an average serving.

A list of the foods in the range you have selected is shown in a scroll-box, together with their numbers in the database. This list cannot be saved for printing.

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Studies of physical activity, energy requirement and energy balance

For this exercise you select a person to study - by default when you start the program you are working with a 25 year old man weighing 67 kg and 172 cm tall (the United Nations standard reference person) - you can change the subject’s gender, age, weight and height. Weight is entered in kg, and height in cm - for those more used to working in st and lb for weight, and in ft and in for height, there is a pop-up calculator to convert to metric units. The subject’s BMR (basal metabolic rate) is calculated from this information.

The first part of the exercise is to construct an activity diary, by entering the time spent in various activities. This is used to calculate the subject’s total energy expenditure (and hence his/her energy requirement). The activity diary can be varied as much as you like, for example to investigate the effect on a modest (or even a considerable) increase in physical activity on energy expenditure. Each time you change the activity diary you have the opportunity to save your results to print later, if you wish.

The second part of the exercise is a simulation of the effect on your subject’s body weight of under-feeding or over-feeding. The results are shown as a table and a graph of the changes in weight after a week on each varied diet. Again the results can be saved for printing, and the experiments can be repeated as often as you wish.

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Studies of protein requirements

Again for this exercise you select the subject to be studied. You then investigate the effect of varying protein intake on his/her ability to maintain nitrogen balance, in order to determine his/her protein requirement. The results are shown as a graph and table of nitrogen balance feeding each level of protein intake for a week at a time. Again the results can be saved for printing. The principles of nitrogen balance are explained in a theory screen.

Studies of protein quality and complementation

This exercise explains the way in which the mixture of amino acids that make up an individual protein determines its nutritional value or protein score. It then goes on to show how a judicious mixture of different proteins that are individually of relatively low quality (eg a cereal protein and a legume protein) can have a protein score as high as that of meat, as a result of the compensation or complementation between the amino acids contributed by the two proteins. You can select two different proteins at a time, and see the protein score and essential amino acid profile of each individually, then the protein score and essential amino acid profile of the mixture. Results can be saved for printing.

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Printing out results

When you have finished your studies, and click to end the program, you will be offered a choice of:

printing out all of the results you have saved, including all of the nutrient analyses of foods that you have added to meals;

printing out the summaries of meals, as well as any results of other investigations, but not the nutrient analyses of individual foods. If you wish to use this option you must click the “see total to date” option after adding your last food, and then click “save to print”.

ending the program without printing anything.

The results to be printed are saved in a file called foodout.txt in your temporary directory, which can be read into word-processing software. This is helpful if you accidentally end the program without printing any results, or if the computer crashes for any reason. The file is erased and rewritten each time the program is run.

The nutrient analyses of individual foods that have been added to meals are also saved to a separate file, foodout.csv in your temporary directory, which can be opened with spreadsheet software if you wish to perform any further calculations on, or analysis of, your results. Any items for which there is no information, which is shown on the screen and printout as a dash (-), will appear in this .csv file as -1. Again, this file is erased and rewritten each time the program is run.

The program locates your temporary directory and shows the full path name to find the saved files, should you need them, on the main menu screen.

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Adding foods to the database

It is possible to add foods (eg prepared dishes) to the database. You should be extremely careful if you attempt to do this, since a mistake can wreck the entire database. Details of how to add foods are in a Microsoft® Word file - addfood.doc.

 

This page updated November 14, 2014