The best smartphone apps, websites, and tools to help improve your diet
A lot of apps also up the ante by broadcasting your progress to your entire social network. The Daily Mile, for example, posts your running times right to your Facebook or Twitter feed. Whether it taps into our shame or our vanity, this sort of public exposure is apparently very motivating to many people.
The developers of an app called MyFitnessPal did some analysis on their user base and found that people who opted to connect with other users, giving them access to personal information such as their daily calorie counts, lost 50 percent more weight than the typical user--and the more connections they had, the more weight they lost.
How Else Can Apps Make You Healthier?
There are also a lot of apps designed to help you make smarter food and nutrition choices at the grocery store or restaurants. For example, Food Scanner, Fooducate, and Shopwell all allow you to type in brand name foods (or simply scan the barcodes) to see the nutrition fact label, ingredient list, and even a health “score.” The Seafood Watch app will tell you whether the catch of the day is low in mercury and sustainable. I myself developed an app called IF Tracker which tracks the inflammation factor of your diet.
The fact that phones are GPS-equipped and know where you are opens up even more functionality. Apps like iVegetarian and Gluten Freed locate the closest vegetarian or gluten-free restaurants. And an app call GoodFoodNearYou will find chain restaurants near your location and vet the menus for the best choices. Most of these apps are free; some cost a few bucks or have premium versions with additional features.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Health and Nutrition Apps?
Other than possible loss of privacy (to the extent that we have any anymore) I don’t really see any downsides to using these apps. To the extent that you find them engaging, empowering, and motivating, mobile and web-based applications can be a powerful tool for positive change.
If you have a favorite health or nutrition app I didn’t mention, feel free to post it below in comments.