John Meyer


Food Nutrition Analysis

When you see healthy food claims, how do you know it’s actually healthy? And when it says “balanced meal,” what does “balanced” really mean?

Food is not “one size fits all”; we are all individuals, and what an athlete needs will be very different from what a woman in her third trimester needs. Different life stages also require varying nutrients, as well as different activity levels. A child who is active will require more energy than a child who is sedentary.

What I offer is a tailored nutrient-breakdown of your recipe and identification of whether it meets the target population. If it does not meet the target population, I offer ways of adapting the recipe to make for a balanced meal.

The software and database I use is Foodworks 8 by Xyris Software (Australia) Pty Ltd 2017 and the Australian AusBrand 2015/AusFood 2015, New Zealand FoodFiles 2014, and USDA National Nutrient Databases SR27.

As a guide, nutrient data should be regarded as approximates—Limitations of Food Nutrition Analysis—Very Important to Read This. While I adhere to and use industry standards software, it is not an exact science. The gold standard for food analysis is doing a very costly chemical analysis, but then again, this also has its limitations with the composition variability of foods.

Because there are many ranges of limitation factors that can influence the composition of foods, the limitations of using food composition databases are the following:

  • Composition variability of foods: These variabilities can stem from the location of the soil, storage, transportation, and how the food is processed.
  • Limited coverage of food item: New composite food products are being produced constantly and would take time to update in food databases.
  • Limited coverage of nutrient: Laboratory instrumentation is needed for full coverage of all nutrients.
  • Inappropriate database or food composition values: For example, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) developed a food database, AUSNUT 2011–13, specifically for the 2011–2013 Australian Health Survey (AHS). Therefore, it may be inappropriate to use with any other collection methods.
  • Errors arising from the database values: Failure to record the cooking or processing method, failure to correctly weigh food items, differences between whether the food was cooked or raw, errors in calculating fatty acid, failure to allow for water, error matches food within the database, and mistake in conversions (weight to volume, imperial to metric, and inaccurate portion descriptions)
  • Database incompatibility: There are no international standards, and it is very difficult to compare epidemiology studies.
  • Software package differences: Software developers can incorporate additional foods or components into databases or select certain nutrient data, for example, when calculating dietary niacin using the term “niacin” only, instead of “niacin equivalents”.

Limitations within the dietary assessment and multilayered analysis would suggest that no one dietary assessment tool is stand-alone, and several tools are needed to understand an individual, group, or population’s dietary patterns.

Medical Disclaimer

The information and reference guides on this website are intended solely as general information for the reader. The contents of this website are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems, or be used for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications.

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