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NutriGenie Automatic Menu Generator

Starting with version 4.0 of our software, we incorporate a unique technology into many of our nutrition software products: the NutriGenie Automatic Menu Generator (AMG) technology. With this technology, the user can specify a daily caloric consumption level and instruct the program to automatically generate menus that are well-balanced and meet the desired caloric requirement.

The task of menu preparation can be quite tedious to health professionals who need to recommend different diets to a large number of people; or to individual users who have to follow certain restrictive diet but don't know what and how much they can eat.

NutriGenie AMG technology removes this difficulty: with a click of a button, a well-balanced menu is freshly created each time. None of the menus are pre-generated, and with a food database of approximately 8,000 items, users have literally millions of nutritious menus to choose from. [The menus generated for the evaluation version are not as varied because of the much smaller sample food database.]

The daily menus generated by NutriGenie, in almost all cases, are exactly at or within a few Calories of the requested caloric level. In addition, with the occasional exceptions in highly restrictive diets (below 1000 Calories/day), the menus generated are well-balanced and conform with the USDA Food Pyramid guidelines.


Characteristics of NutriGenie Menus

The generated menus are intended to show you the large variety of foods that you can eat even when you are on a diet. The menus also illustrate what a well-balanced diet should look like at different caloric intake levels.

In general, you don't have to deprive yourself of any particular food category so long as the amount you eat is appropriate for your optimal caloric consumption target. For example, even a low-calorie diet can include ice cream for dessert although the amount is more likely half a cup instead of a cup of ice cream.

NutriGenie menus are suggestions, not rigid prescriptions. Although we use a standard food database appropriate for the US population, our database also contains a number of food products from other parts of the world. This reflects the diversity of the American population as well as the culinary sophistication of our users. So you will see fruits like kiwi or mango, cheese like Camembert or Gruyere, etc., on our suggested menus. Feel free to substitute them by comparable foods that are readily available in your area.


How to Use NutriGenie Menus for Weight Control

NutriGenie menus are perfectly suited for use with our Weight Control Planner utility. You can use the Planner to determine the caloric intake level that maintains your current weight. If you desire to lose some weight, for example, you can tell NutriGenie to generate several menus at different lower caloric levels. Using these test menus in the Planner, you can find out the caloric intake level that helps you achieve your weight goal at the optimal rate. Once this figure has been obtained, NutriGenie can generate a week's or month's worth of menus for you to review and edit. The printed copies of these menus are a most convenient tool for you to monitor your diet.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Automatic Menu Generator (AMG)

Can I restrict the menu generator to a list of my favorite foods?

The menu generator has to use the complete list of foods in the NutriGenie database because it has to generate balanced menus. If the user doesn't like fruits or vegetables and has none on his list, for example, the generator cannot create balanced menus. In general, if you see a suggested item that you don't like, you can manually replace it with something else comparable. For example, you can replace a fruit with another fruit.

Why doesn't the menu generator use the foods in my personal food database?

There is not enough information in the personal food database for the software to select these foods appropriately.

What are the differences between the AMG that is based on calorie and one based on exchanges?

We do have an automatic menu generator based on the American Diabetes Association's Exchange System. This Exchange AMG is only available in our diabetes software such as Diabetes Nutrition, Diabetes Meal Planner, etc.

With the standard calorie-based AMG, the user just specifies the calorie target and the AMG creates Food Pyramid-balanced menus. User cannot specify the foods that the AMG uses.

With the Exchange AMG, the user specifies the number of exchanges for each meal, the exact foods to use and the AMG creates the menus that use only selected foods to satisfy the exchange requirements. However, because of the flexibility of specific food choices, the Exchange AMG requires more preparation from the user: foods need to be assigned to exchange lists so that the software knows what exchanges they belong to, they also need to be assigned to various meal lists so that the software knows when to use them. In addition, when foods are assigned to various exchanges, the portion must be for 1 exchange so that the software can generate the exact and correct serving amount for any food selection.
To use the Exchange AMG effectively, the user needs to spend time preparing the food lists, test and refine the list contents gradually. The trade-off between the 2 AMGs is convenience vs. flexibility.

Why can't I specify the number of protein or carb grams for the AMG to generate menus for me?

It is not feasible to generate consistently appropriate menus based on macronutrient specifications. For example, a daily menu based on 60 grams of protein can range from 300 or so calories to several thousand calories. It is not advisable to consume 400 calories one day and 4,000 calories the next even though your protein intakes are the same.

So what do I do if I want to limit my daily intake to certain amount or ratio of macronutrients?

You should first determine your daily desirable calorie intake and use this value to generate sample menus. Once the menus are generated, you can manually adjust the serving portions of suggested food items to reach your desired macronutrient goals. You can also replace, delete or add foods to suit your preferences. The software provides several convenient tools (Find Max, Find Min, Sort, etc.) to help you identify the appropriate food items for adjustment.

I cannot find the AMG in my purchased software.

The standard NutriGenie AMG is based on the Food Pyramid guidelines and therefore is not provided in programs such as Atkins diet, Zone diet, etc. If a NutriGenie software has the AMG feature, this is stated in its product description page. If this is not stated in the software description page or if the trial software doesn't have the AMG, then the full version doesn't have it either.

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