How do I Choose the Best Dietary Software?

Jennifer Voight

Dietary software is a valuable tool to a variety of nutrition-conscious consumers, from the individual who wants to track calories and make better food choices, to the professional dietitian who needs to track multiple clients’ needs and deficiencies. This software can even be helpful to a health club manager who counsels clients on fitness and health. Choosing dietary software should take into account a variety of factors, such as desired features, dietary goals and needs, budget, portability, and time. Some dietary software packages are available for free while other professional-grade packages can run in the thousands of dollars.

The best dietary software programs provide a user-friendly way for dieters to keep track of the foods they eat.
The best dietary software programs provide a user-friendly way for dieters to keep track of the foods they eat.

Among the most popular uses for personal dietary software is tracking calories consumed against calories used through activity to analyze progress toward weight goals. Research has shown people who keep food logs tend to lose more weight than those who do not. Packages may include weight graphs, nutritional analysis, exercise and activity logs, and even a journal for tracking emotional eating patterns or other factors that may affect diet. There may be nutritional goal tracking if an individual is trying to increase dietary consumption of a vitamin or mineral, such as calcium. Personal dietary software can also help individuals with food allergies and intolerances and those controlling medical conditions through diet, such as diabetic patients.

Exercise is an important step involved in dieting.
Exercise is an important step involved in dieting.

Many dietary software packages offer free trials and demo versions that can be evaluated before buying. If the interface is not easy to use, it is not likely that the user will stick with the software long enough to see results. It can be helpful to try a few types of software before making a decision to decide which features are most important.

Typical personal diet software has a database of common foods to choose from. Since this is frequently the most used feature, it can be helpful to make sure that the food database is accurate, contains the types of foods the individual usually eats, and that entry is quick and easy. Many software packages provide detailed information, such as nutritional content of food, analysis of caloric needs, and number of calories used through activities. Phone and personal digital assistant applications are becoming more widely available and can be useful to someone who may need to access dietary software when computer access is not possible. This can be an advantage when keeping track of meals so that details are not omitted and food logs are accurate.

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Discussion Comments


There are a lot of good dietary software programs out there, so I tried to narrow it down to the one that was simple, and the most user friendly.

Some of them can get so complicated with all of the charts and places to input your information. I wanted something that was simple to follow and understand right away.

Some of them also had too many features and I was overwhelmed by all of it. The one that made the most sense to me was called FitDay. This is a free program that allows me to keep track of my calories in an easy format.

There are also other goal oriented programs available, but for now I just like to keep track of the calories consumed.


@summing - I know there have been a lot of other posts in between but I saw your comment about needing something more than software and I wanted to share my idea.

If you like the idea of the software but have trouble using it consistently, you might think about joining Weight Watchers. You can go to weekly meetings and get their proven support, but there can also be an online component in which you enter your foods. (I think it calculates your "points" for you and that kind of thing.)

It might be just the thing for you. Having a meeting and new friends to lose weight with might be a lot more motivating than the computer by itself, but you don't have to make a strict choice. My mom did this program and had a lot of success with it.


@manykitties2 - There are tons of programs available for your smartphone, though what is working for me may not work for you. Right now I am using the pro version of My Net Diary on my IPhone and it does a little bit of everything. I can track my weight, calories, fats and you can record everything you've eaten and then look at its nutritional value.

To be honest, the only reason I picked this app over the others as it was on sale for $0.99 and I can't resist a bargain. If you really want some good dietary products for your smartphone download some freebies and buy which one you like the most.


@summing - I know how you feel. I have had that same problem with diet programs I have tried in the past. But I found one that did help a little. It was one I downloaded from the internet.

Basically, it makes it very hard for you to ignore it. It pops up pictures and facts onto your computer at random times. It pops up reminders and questions about your diet and exercise. You don't have a lot of control over when and where the popups happen and it is very hard (but not impossible) to disable the program.

At times this is pretty annoying but at other times it is really motivating. It always reminds you of the goals you set for yourself. And you know that you are not going to avoid a computer. If you buy a diet book you can just put in a drawer. This makes itself a nuisance so that you will not forget what you are working for.


Can anyone recommend a good dietary management software for a smartphone?

I am trying to find something that will keep track of all the dietary vitamins I need and will also count calories. If it can tell me things like fat content et cetera that would be even better.

This month I really want to start looking after myself better and I think I am going to need a portable program to make sure I am staying on track with all of my dieting goals. While I must admit to hating dieting, I think that having software to help me will be a lot more painless than just reading a diet book.


I have struggled with my weight and dieting for years. This is a problem that started before the computer era and has stretched a long way into it. I have tried a number of different dietary software programs and never had much success with them.

Here is what my problem has always been. I will get a dietary analysis software, or one that focuses on exercise, or one that is all about motivation. I will install it on my computer, go through the first few modules and than promptly forget about it. Every time I get on my computer I will just elect not to open that program. It is so easy to ignore and this has happened to me like 5 times. The programs just languish and I never loose any weight. I need diet help that is a bigger and more present part of my life.

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