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TOPIC: How we measure, cups vs grams and oz vs ml

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April 19, 2012 6:38 AM
I've lived in the US and now live in the UK. In the US we had cups, tablespoons, ounces, pounds, here most things are measured by metrics and weight (they do have pounds and stones, but let's not go there.). It would be nice to have a calculator that did conversions as part of the database search. or showed both measures.

I find myself re entering items that are 1 fl oz just so that I can put 30 ml (1fl oz) so that not only I, but the rest of Europe finds it easier to tally our calories.

Maybe even a tick for the kind of measurements that one would like to see? Part of our profile perhaps?
April 19, 2012 7:00 AM
For most database items you'll find that there are multiple results for any search. Because of the different measurement types... if you're on the computer and doing a search you'll see the * beside most items which means user entered, which also means we have one measurement type available to us. If the first one you look at is only in ounces the very next one could be available in grams. Then it's just a matter of fiddling with the numbers IE if the serving is 100 grams but you had a 50 gram portion you had 0.5 servings of 100 grams.
  3335912
April 19, 2012 7:02 AM
I also find it somewhat frustrating that the database does not allow for metric (too often, anyway). Food info in Europe is measured by 100 grams or 100 ml.... they tell you how many calories etc in 100 grams or 100 ml. Therefore, I'm constantly doing the equation to find out the calorie content. The idea of "serving" and then "servings per container" just doesn't seem to be as effective or even relevant. (Who cares how many servings per container???)
Something you can do is get a kitchen scale that measures everything: ounces, grams, fluid ounces and millileters. I have one and it's very helpful to find out about my portions. You still have to find the equivalent in the MFP database somehow or take the time to plug it all in.
  19713871
April 19, 2012 7:18 AM
servings per container if you enter something than 1 does allow MFP to give you I think 3 measurements.
the serving size you entered
the serving size of 1gram if you entered 100 grams (I could be wrong here, haven't done it lately) or 1 mL if you entered 100 mL
and the serving size of the full container which is easy to do for some things (especially if I get making smoothies with a tub of greek yogurt or something with a fairly small "container size"
  3335912
April 19, 2012 7:36 AM
QUOTE:

I've lived in the US and now live in the UK. In the US we had cups, tablespoons, ounces, pounds, here most things are measured by metrics and weight (they do have pounds and stones, but let's not go there.). It would be nice to have a calculator that did conversions as part of the database search. or showed both measures.

I find myself re entering items that are 1 fl oz just so that I can put 30 ml (1fl oz) so that not only I, but the rest of Europe finds it easier to tally our calories.

Maybe even a tick for the kind of measurements that one would like to see? Part of our profile perhaps?


Another Yank expat, here!

I know exactly what you mean! I'm totally converted to metrics, now. I often have to search for a version of a food that isn't in units like "One cup, chopped."
April 20, 2012 6:56 AM
Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, servings per container would help in terms of using a lot of something in cooking. I hadn't thought of that. Guess I haven't been cooking much, eh? I also see what you mean about the 1 gm possibility in the choices, and then just putting in how many grams. Sometimes I do this too.

Thanks for the tips! : )
  19713871
April 20, 2012 7:04 AM
QUOTE:
Something you can do is get a kitchen scale that measures everything: ounces, grams, fluid ounces and millileters.


These are for the hard of thinking, as a scale cannot possibly determine millilitres or fl.ozs unless the material being weighed is water or happens to have a density of 1 g/ml.

Lots of people make big mistakes with a cup of something and translating it as 240g without knowing what the density is. This can give you up to 4 times more "stuff" than intended.

Don't mix volume and weight measurements ! They are A Different Thing (TM)
Edited by yarwell On April 20, 2012 7:04 AM
  18022302
April 20, 2012 7:08 AM
Well, wait, I'm confused now because I have a kitchen scale with buttons on it for this very purpose. Thank goodness too because I'm really rather slow when it comes to arithmetic. When weighing things, I can choose ml or fl.oz. or gm or oz. I just have to push the button and weigh away!
i hope it's not incorrect after all this time..... no, can't be. Can it?
  19713871
April 20, 2012 8:57 AM
You've got a tricky one there, a fluid ounce is a volume - like a cup or teaspoon, an ounce or dry ounce (or avoirdupois ounce) is a weight - at least in the US it's 1/16th of a pound, or about 28 grams.

A US fluid ounce is 33 ml, and an Imperial fluid ounce is 28 ml - but not too many ppl are using the Imperial fl oz these days.

There are Tala measuring cones/cups here (UK) that translate weights and measures for the most commonly used ingredients in cooking.
April 20, 2012 9:54 AM
QUOTE:

I also find it somewhat frustrating that the database does not allow for metric (too often, anyway). Food info in Europe is measured by 100 grams or 100 ml.... they tell you how many calories etc in 100 grams or 100 ml. Therefore, I'm constantly doing the equation to find out the calorie content. The idea of "serving" and then "servings per container" just doesn't seem to be as effective or even relevant. (Who cares how many servings per container???)
Something you can do is get a kitchen scale that measures everything: ounces, grams, fluid ounces and millileters. I have one and it's very helpful to find out about my portions. You still have to find the equivalent in the MFP database somehow or take the time to plug it all in.


Or you could just use Google to convert your units to any other units you care to...
April 20, 2012 9:57 AM
QUOTE:

Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, servings per container would help in terms of using a lot of something in cooking. I hadn't thought of that. Guess I haven't been cooking much, eh? I also see what you mean about the 1 gm possibility in the choices, and then just putting in how many grams. Sometimes I do this too.

Thanks for the tips! : )


I ALWAYS DO THAT! I pay no attention to what MFP has listed as a "serving." If I ate 6 grams, I enter 6 servings of 1 gram. If I drank 8 ounces I enter 8 servings of 1 ounce.
April 20, 2012 10:13 AM
QUOTE:

pedraz wrote:
...I have a kitchen scale with buttons on it for this very purpose. Thank goodness too because I'm really rather slow when it comes to arithmetic. When weighing things, I can choose ml or fl.oz. or gm or oz. I just have to push the button and weigh away!
i hope it's not incorrect after all this time..... no, can't be. Can it?


All digital scales do the liquid measurement trick. The trick is to assume that 1 gram is 1 ml of liquid. It's only true for water where the density is 1 g/ml as user:yarwell says. Everything else has a different density so the trick produces an error. If you use the trick, you have to accept the error.

For cream and many common liquids, the error's within 5%. For ice cream, the error is within 10%. Yogurt is somewhere between the two.

For honey and syrup, the error extends to 40% but you'd probably want weight measures for that anyway.

It's a neat trick which you can do with any scale. Just measure the gram value and call it ml. Scales that say they do the trick have simply been designed to replace 'g' with 'ml' on the display. Simples.
April 20, 2012 10:31 AM
I usually find someone who has entered the serving size as 1 = 100g, then I do 1.75 servings for 175g, or .30 servings for 30g. I look for everything at 100gs and when I enter new info, I do it at that scale. It just makes life easier.
April 20, 2012 11:14 AM
QUOTE:

Mytha wrote:
I usually find someone who has entered the serving size as 1 = 100g, then I do 1.75 servings for 175g, or .30 servings for 30g.


In those examples, you can enter 30 servings of "1 g". It's much easier than calculating a fraction. Just select the down-arrow to the right for the "1 g" option.

Did you know that?
April 20, 2012 11:31 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Mytha wrote:
I usually find someone who has entered the serving size as 1 = 100g, then I do 1.75 servings for 175g, or .30 servings for 30g.


In those examples, you can enter 30 servings of "1 g". It's much easier than calculating a fraction. Just select the down-arrow to the right for the "1 g" option.

Did you know that?


Is 1g always an option? I use it when I see it, but I don't think it's there in every case.
April 21, 2012 3:32 AM
QUOTE:

katysmelly wrote:
QUOTE:

In those examples, you can enter 30 servings of "1 g". It's much easier than calculating a fraction. Just select the down-arrow to the right for the "1 g" option.


Is 1g always an option? I use it when I see it, but I don't think it's there in every case.


The software looks for digits to the left of the first word. Anything to the right of the digit isn't changed. Some people put other stuff in the serving field and that causes weirdness. For example, if you write:
"2 pieces (42 g)"
The drop-down option will tthen be misleading as in:
"1 piece (42 g)".

Is that the sort of thing you mean?
April 21, 2012 3:54 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

katysmelly wrote:
QUOTE:

In those examples, you can enter 30 servings of "1 g". It's much easier than calculating a fraction. Just select the down-arrow to the right for the "1 g" option.


Is 1g always an option? I use it when I see it, but I don't think it's there in every case.


The software looks for digits to the left of the first word. Anything to the right of the digit isn't changed. Some people put other stuff in the serving field and that causes weirdness. For example, if you write:
"2 pieces (42 g)"
The drop-down option will tthen be misleading as in:
"1 piece (42 g)".

Is that the sort of thing you mean?


No, I mean that sometimes there's an option for 100 grams but not an option for 1 gram. It may just be on the phone app, but I definitely saw it earlier today. Ah! Just looked at my diary - "Butter - Salted" has options for "cup" "tbsp" "pat" "stick" and "100 grams." But not 1 gram.

It's OK - I just put in the percentage of 100 grams.
April 21, 2012 4:00 PM
Also, every time I contemplate filling a measuring cup with butter (or peanut butter or similar), I think just how happy I am to have moved to a country that uses metrics.

Other than making cookies, why would anybody eat butter by the cup??
April 22, 2012 12:50 AM
Hi all,

I agree that the application would be more easier to use if measurements would be converted automatically in the application and users could just select which measurement system they wish to use in their profile. Like said here before, Europeans have a standard that requires food items content to be reported by 100g.

It would be rather easy to add information about missing products to the database if this would be made possible. As there are so many products lacking from the database that are available in my country, for me it would be more easier and less time consuming to add amounts of energy, protein, carbs, fat, fiber, natrium, vitamins etc. rather than trying to find other similar products that I'm using. I do realize that there are millions of products out there and it can be nearly impossible to gather them all to one database by administrators. Therefore it could be easier if users could maintain product lists themselves as a community.

Another thing is that a manufacturer might be using the same brand in different countries, but the package size might be different and even recipes for products might variate. This makes the use of products a bit tricky. Is a can of milk a cup (240ml), or a small 2dl/200ml can that is sold in my country, something else? Milk is also being sold in pints in UK, but more or less rest of Europe uses one litre can as a standard package. So the use of a package or a product itself is not working universally to describe what products contain or as a measurement.

Next the measurement of a serving. I tried to do some research how much is a serving as I was getting confused is it a indefinable amount how much I consume, or a certain measurement? I learned is that the US and Canada use serving to represent the recommended amount of food for daily usage, similarly like Reference Daily Intake (or RDI) is being used. According to the USDA, one serving of cooked rice or pasta would be 0,5 cup. A serving could also be 1 cup of milk, or 1,5 cups of cheese, or 3-4 small crackers and so on. This sounds similar what we use in Europe, products nutritional daily usage recommendations should be labelled on products. But again, recommendations are not the same in every countries as every country's own national health agency makes these guides. So, using RDI or serving is not really a good way to measure how much users are consuming.

When talking about RDI, I have to say that when I lived in UK I really loved the way how products have those colour signs to give a quick look how healthy a product is. I really would love to see that kind of labelling used in my country too.

It might be a good idea to flag a country to products so that users know which product they should use. Like I tried to explain before how the concept of a can of milk, or even a cup is not same in every country. For example according to Wikipedia a imperial cup = 0,5 pints = 284 ml and US "legal" cup = 240 ml where a Japanese cup = 200 ml. This makes the concept of a cup also confusing.

So there needs to be some sort of universal rules how to use measurements and how products should be added to database. It would be also helpful if measurements could preselect on users profile and the application just converts things automatically.

For users to keep using this application regularly, selecting products should be made as easy and fast to use as possible. I really love how it is made available for all mobile platforms, but sadly after using it for half of a day I feel that this app is too complicated to use on daily basis.

I'm sorry to cause trouble, but I just felt like I have to share my two cents about how it is not easy to put every user into the same mould in this conceptually fragmented world of ours. The better solution would be to adapt rather than to use that one mould for everyone. Oh god, and sorry for this long post. :)

PS. The database is not supporting the use of all European characters. For example when I try to find Nordic Möller -products, I'm getting a long list of German(?) Müller -products. :/
Edited by Zornac On April 22, 2012 1:37 AM
April 22, 2012 12:57 AM
And yet another US expat here who is addicted to grams. It makes life so much easier to see things listed per 100g, then measure and take a quick decimal of it. Not to mention, it is so much more accurate than measuring by cups, tablespoons, etc. I'll never go back to cups! I'm in the process of converting all of my baking recipes to grams. And I'm finally learning how much meat to order at the deli counter! haha. I no longer get blank stares when I ask for a quarter pound of turkey.

I agree that some improvements could be made on the site. It would be nice to see how items are measured in the food database. I find myself spending a lot of time searching for the version that was saved in grams.
April 22, 2012 1:07 AM
TIP

For those who get frustrated with all the ludicrous "Cup of butter" crap, include the name of a British supermarket (eg Tesco butter) in your search and you'll get values in grams.

But really, I say "Ban the cup!" bigsmile

Seriously, so many people measure dry ingredients with different densities with cups, it beggars belief. For instance "pasta, one cup" Off the top of my head, I reckon that one cup of dry pasta could be anything from 25g of canneloni to 75g of conchigliette!

It is a stupid stupid idea.

Just use grams and millilitres, it's far more accurate and there's less room for confusion. What's the point of logging all your food, when you introduce such innacuracies!

It's not just because I'm British, I'm old enough to have been brought up with pounds and ounces, but even then I didn't measure dried goods by volume.
  6288475
April 22, 2012 3:08 AM
QUOTE:

katysmelly wrote:
Just looked at my diary - "Butter - Salted" has options for "cup" "tbsp" "pat" "stick" and "100 grams." But not 1 gram.


Aha! Thank you very much for finding that example. I think I've worked out what happened. Most food entries have an 'Edit' button or some means of editing it because they're created by users. That entry was created by developers and you can tell that because it has no 'Edit' button or method of editing it. They've fixed the options without providing a "1 g" option. I didn't know the options were different for developer-created foods. Thanks for giving me the explicit example!

I have to say I agree with all the other stuff said in this thread. I notice that Americans have to work far harder to get the information they need and there are far more duplicates (per 1/2 cup, per 4 ounces, per 113 g, per 1/3 slice etc). You can easily see that by comparing the number of duplicates in Asda entries with the number of duplicates in Walmart entries (it's the same company but Asda is the UK name and Walmart is the US name).

Great thread!
April 22, 2012 10:00 AM
I think it would be a good idea to have a database for US items and another one for the UK items . This way, the measurements would be in the correct format (cups etc for US and grams etc for UK) and also, there would not be so many foods to scroll through. Generic items would be added to both, such as vegetables and fruit.

When entering foods, there would be an option to add an item to the US database, UK database or both so if a food is only available in the UK, say at Tesco's, it would not clutter up the US database (and vice versa with Walmart for instance).

When searching for an item, you could then select which database you wanted to look in, US, UK or both.

There could also be other country specific databases too.
Edited by mollymoo On April 22, 2012 10:02 AM
  237287
April 22, 2012 10:02 AM
QUOTE:
I think it would be a good idea to have a database for US items and another one for the UK items
Sounds good, but what about people in Canada and all the other countries where we have a lot of members?
  6288475
April 22, 2012 1:37 PM
QUOTE:

And yet another US expat here who is addicted to grams. It makes life so much easier to see things listed per 100g, then measure and take a quick decimal of it. Not to mention, it is so much more accurate than measuring by cups, tablespoons, etc. I'll never go back to cups! I'm in the process of converting all of my baking recipes to grams. And I'm finally learning how much meat to order at the deli counter! haha. I no longer get blank stares when I ask for a quarter pound of turkey.

I agree that some improvements could be made on the site. It would be nice to see how items are measured in the food database. I find myself spending a lot of time searching for the version that was saved in grams.


Also, it makes unit pricing at the supermarket so much easier - both the money and the weight/volume are in metrics!

I, too, search for the ones most likely to be in grams. I agree with the other poster - adding "Tesco" as a search term will usually get you a metric result.
Edited by katysmelly On April 22, 2012 1:39 PM

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