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Old 03-24-2013, 01:25 PM   #1
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Consensus (An Ongoing Community Project)

Hello people of the forum. Even though I am new to low-carbing and to this forum (or perhaps because I am new), I would like to discuss the subject of consensus. I know that many of you have been here far, far longer than I and have much more experience than I do, but I have a suggestion/idea to discuss.

As a newcomer to low-carb (only been doing this for a few months), I have encountered what seems to me like a whole new world with infinitely conflicting opinions. I would like for the low-carb community to come to consensus on some very important issues and subjects so that newcomers to the low-carb lifestyle, such as myself, have an easier time learning about it and putting it into practice.

My mother has type 2 diabetes and I firmly believe that if she followed a low-carb lifestyle, her quality of life would be improved. But like many people who have jobs and a life, she does not have time to wade through all the books and forums and threads and recipes and (often conflicting) information like I do. It's time for us to extract what we have learned from countless individual threads, published scientific studies, and (sometimes expensive) cooking experiments and streamline this into one or more organized and searchable databases so that this information is in a form that is much quicker and easier to obtain.

So I'd like to get a project going. And here's what I have in mind:

We in the low-carb community need to come to consensus on the following topics, by way of review and comparison of the scientific literature and the information that exists:

1. Which sweeteners are the safest in terms of health risks (put together a list which ranks the sweeteners in order of least health risk to most health risk, and which discusses in detail what the specific health risks are, as determined by the scientific literature). This would need to be done through community inputs and a committee.

2. The User-Tested Sugar-Conversion Database. A sugar-conversion database. This database would be comprehensive and ever-evolving. It would be a go-to for many people who are low-carbing who wish to eliminate cane sugar from their diet and use something else instead. It would be able to convert cane sugar measurements to measurements of sugar substitutes. This would not be based upon one persons' opinion, but would rather be based upon many individual users' confirmation or rejection of the conversion after they themselves had attempted the conversion in a recipe. It would also be based upon the sugar substitute manufacturers' conversion charts.

Example: Let's say that I make a claim that 1/2 cup agave = 1/3 cup milk + 1 cup erythritol. First, I must specify which brands I am using of each item. There will be a rating of 0 next to my conversion, which means that no one else has independently confirmed my conversion as accurate. Let's say that 3 people from the forums use my substitution in their recipes and 2 people decide that it was accurate and 1 person decided that it was not. 2 people would click Yes and 1 person would click No, so then my conversion would have a rating of 67% accurate, and it would indicate that 2 people agreed and 1 person disagreed.

What this means is not that 2 people liked the conversion in their recipes; what it means is that 2 people decided that 1/3 cup milk + 1 cup erythritol was in fact equivalent in taste and texture to 1/2 cup agave, or that it was acceptably close. This implies that those 2 individuals have also made the same recipe(s) using 1/2 cup agave. And the person who disagreed is stating that 1/3 cup milk + 1 cup erythritol is not equivalent to 1/2 cup agave.

The person who disagreed would leave his or her comment about why they disagreed (perhaps 1 cup erythritol was not as sweet as 1/2 cup agave, in their opinion), and would indicate which brand of Erythritol they used. Different brands may have different qualities. This person would make a suggestion as to what conversion they think would be better. If other people tried his or her conversion and agreed with it, then that person could add that conversion to the database for review by other users.

3. Database of Equivalent Foods. This would be a database that would be especially helpful for low-carb newbies. It would tell them which foods they can buy or cook that would be most equivalent to foods they are used to eating already. Each food item would have at least 3 equivalent items or recipes so that there would be no inherent recipe or product bias. Users would rate the products and recipes according to how similar they are to the original sugar-loaded item.

Example: Jane is used to eating chocolate cake at least once a week, but she is told by her doctor that she has type 2 diabetes. She wants to be healthier and not rely heavily on insulin, but she doesn't want to give up chocolate cake. She needs to know which low-carb products on the market or which recipes on this site or elsewhere are the most equivalent to a traditional sugar-loaded chocolate cake in terms of taste and texture.

4. Introduction to Baking Low-Carb. This would be an article that would introduce new low-carbers or people who were interested in a low-carb lifestyle to baking low-carb. This article would discuss specific ingredients and how they are used in recipes. These items would be things that many people would never have heard of before.

Example:
PolyD -- (discuss what it is, how it is made, taste, texture, nutrition facts, how to use it in recipes, how to use it as a substitution, provide examples of tested and rated recipes it can be used in)
Inulin -- (discuss what it is, how it is made, taste, texture, nutrition facts, how to use it in recipes, how to use it as a substitution, provide examples of tested and rated recipes it can be used in)
Stevia -- same thing (discuss issue of accurately measuring it, would need to use either mini measuring spoons or kitchen scale)
Link to sugar conversion database.

5. Discuss with site administrators the possibility of forming an alliance of sorts with a specific site that allows you to input ingredients to create recipes and obtain nutrition facts on those recipes. The nature of the alliance would be such that nutrition fact labels from that site can be generated and linked to on this site's recipe databases, etc. The site I am referring to also allows users to enter new food items and nutrition data into the database via an accurate process in which the said data is verified by their site's admins.

We could do some, all, or none of these ideas. What do you guys think. I'm hoping very strongly to get started on a sugar conversion database at least.

Last edited by Seeking; 03-24-2013 at 01:39 PM..
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Old 03-24-2013, 01:42 PM   #2
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It just occurred to me that all or some of this could be accomplished via a wiki page or project. I've never done a wiki project before, but could look into it.
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Old 03-24-2013, 01:58 PM   #3
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Wow... that is quite a project!

Re: artificial sweetners Most manufacturers already give the conversion based on sweetness alone. However sugar has a lot of other properties that are never exactly duplicated by artificial sweetners alone. In breads, it makes them brown quicker and adds tenderness. In icecreams it lowers the freezing point and prevents crystalization.
I dont think you will ever be able to give exact conversions for those things, so recipes will not work with certain artificial sweetners - hence this huge board of people developing various recipes using ingredients like poly-d, erythritol, splenda, stevia etc, often in combinations to get the desired properties.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:03 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Strawberry View Post
Wow... that is quite a project!

Re: artificial sweetners Most manufacturers already give the conversion based on sweetness alone. However sugar has a lot of other properties that are never exactly duplicated by artificial sweetners alone. In breads, it makes them brown quicker and adds tenderness. In icecreams it lowers the freezing point and prevents crystalization.
I dont think you will ever be able to give exact conversions for those things, so recipes will not work with certain artificial sweetners - hence this huge board of people developing various recipes using ingredients like poly-d, erythritol, splenda, stevia etc, often in combinations to get the desired properties.
You bring up a good point; what properties should substitution combinations be judged on? Taste alone? Taste + texture? Taste + texture + other properties as well? And if so, what other properties? This would be a separate discussion all on its own. I think that it should be decided by a vote, if such a project is to be undertaken, and only after a discussion about the properties to determine which ones were most important.
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Old 03-24-2013, 03:46 PM   #5
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http://www.lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/lo...ons-1-cup.html
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Old 03-24-2013, 03:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by drjlocarb View Post
An excellent data source. All the info from your thread would be used as a starting point for a sugar conversion database. The thing that has somewhat frustrated me about combing through thread after thread is that

1. It takes time to comb through threads.
2. Posted conversions either are not yet tested and confirmed, or I can't immediately tell if they are tested or confirmed.

We need things that we know have been confirmed to work, and we need to know that they have been confirmed without having to comb through threads to verify that. If there was a page that had all the conversions in one place, along with a rating to know to what extent the conversions were tried and confirmed, that would be a huge time saver.

Also I'm thinking of adding an interactive calculator feature. That would take time and a program written from scratch but it can be done. Maybe not by me but regardless it can by done, probably even using Python. Or perhaps there is already a program written up that can be modified slightly to do this. I haven't gotten that far yet.

Last edited by Seeking; 03-24-2013 at 03:54 PM..
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Old 03-24-2013, 05:12 PM   #7
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Part of the problem with this too is that a lot of it is subjective - i.e., *I* personally don't find Splenda an objectionable substitute for sugar, but many people do. So for ME, Splenda = safe, for others, it's on the "I won't use it" list.

I personally find PolyD to be unusable in ANY quantity, while many others can and do use it without a single tummy rumble.

This site, which is sponsored by Netrition, already has a recipe calculator. Go to the main page for this site and you'll find it. It works pretty well too. Also they take a very dim view of posting links to OTHER sites, so posting other sources of ingredients and/or links to support sites is not tolerated from this board.

I'm truly NOT trying to throw cold water on your idea - but others on here have tried it before and not had much luck ON THIS SITE with it. If you have your own site or blog, you can certainly do this to your own satisfaction.

There ARE lots of reference posts on this site already, most recently there was a man here whose name currently escapes me that was trying to do the sugar equivalence thing - if I can find it I'll post a link to it.

But I do wish you luck with it - I know how you feel, as someone new to low carb, it would be wonderful to have a central repository for all this info. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all in the beginning too. My love of cooking and eating good things finally got me where I am, 10 years later and still enjoying Atkins. A lot of which is due in NO SMALL PART to the skills, knowledge, recipes, and help of all the folks on this board!
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Old 03-24-2013, 05:24 PM   #8
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Part of the problem with this too is that a lot of it is subjective - i.e., *I* personally don't find Splenda an objectionable substitute for sugar, but many people do. So for ME, Splenda = safe, for others, it's on the "I won't use it" list.

I personally find PolyD to be unusable in ANY quantity, while many others can and do use it without a single tummy rumble.
That's ok because the conversion database I am imagining would have anything in it that users wanted to add. If someone has an idea for a sugar substitution, they can enter it in after they have used it in a recipe and then others can test it out. There would be no bias.

Quote:
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This site, which is sponsored by Netrition, already has a recipe calculator. Go to the main page for this site and you'll find it. It works pretty well too.
Ah ok I found it. I don't like it as well as the other one I've been using though.

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Also they take a very dim view of posting links to OTHER sites, so posting other sources of ingredients and/or links to support sites is not tolerated from this board.
I just found out that they are already linking to the other site I was mentioning before! Line item #5 is solved The site I was mentioning is LiveStrong, specifically their "MyPlate" feature which allows you to add and analyze whole recipes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charski View Post
There ARE lots of reference posts on this site already, most recently there was a man here whose name currently escapes me that was trying to do the sugar equivalence thing - if I can find it I'll post a link to it.
If he comes back perhaps he'd be willing to collaborate with me on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charski View Post
But I do wish you luck with it - I know how you feel, as someone new to low carb, it would be wonderful to have a central repository for all this info. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all in the beginning too. My love of cooking and eating good things finally got me where I am, 10 years later and still enjoying Atkins. A lot of which is due in NO SMALL PART to the skills, knowledge, recipes, and help of all the folks on this board!
I do feel overwhelmed. I'm still new to all this and I want to make it more easily and quickly accessible and cheaper too.
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Old 03-24-2013, 07:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charski View Post

There ARE lots of reference posts on this site already, most recently there was a man here whose name currently escapes me that was trying to do the sugar equivalence thing - if I can find it I'll post a link to it.
This one? http://www.lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/lo...nversions.html
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Old 03-24-2013, 08:10 PM   #10
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Notice how it says "preliminary, use at your own risk." I think it's time for us to have some verified, tried-and-true conversions all in one place.
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Yep, that's it, Dr. J!! Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seeking View Post
Notice how it says "preliminary, use at your own risk." I think it's time for us to have some verified, tried-and-true conversions all in one place.
Part of THAT problem is that there are SO many products, even if you just take stevia into account - multiple makers, versions, forms. Plus new sweeteners coming around and then going, all the time.

I think Bill got disgusted with the whole thing and hasn't been around in a long while. I tried to help out as I could, as did others - but it's a daunting project especially to get all the info from the manufacturers, so that it's known good info.

BUT like I said - I sure wish you luck with your endeavor on this one!
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Old 03-25-2013, 10:45 AM   #12
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people's taste differs so much. we really don't agree on these things.
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