In the era of convenience, of instant everything, of faster than fast, it can be difficult to make healthy choices when it comes to food. With ingredient lists that read like a mad scientist’s chemistry experiment gone wrong and diet alternatives that often turn out to be far unhealthier than their regular counterparts (don’t get me started on aspartame), it often seems like every choice, whatever it is, turns out to be unhealthy somehow.
But for once in the mystifying quagmire of advancing technology mobile media has actually made something easier, as useful apps have emerged that allow users to investigate product ingredients, track their food intake, and participate in online communities for healthy living whenever and wherever they want.
Drawing on the power of constant connection, these apps assure users that they’ll have the information they need at their fingertips to make the right food choices and that they’ll instantly have the support they need to fight those pesky cravings that always seem to derail even the best dietary intentions.
As I peruse the pages of the various tech and telecom blogs daily I pass hundreds of stories about the latest apps, most of which hold my attention for less time than it takes to read the title of the article itself. But every once in awhile I find something that has a wider appeal, an app story that goes beyond using your phone to play pseudo-musical instruments, or viewing the latest salacious mobile content, or playing the newest update for Angry Birds to something that impacts everyone. Here are some of the more useful apps I’ve come across:
Looking for fun and exciting foods for her kids, Hemi Weingarten’s wife purchased some glow-in-the-dark yogurt. Viewing the product suspiciously, Weingarten decided to research the ingredient list, particularly the inclusion of “Red #40,” which he subsequently found to be a controversial chemical banned in several European countries.
This spurred him on to create Fooducate, a mobile app that provides nutritional and ingredient information about packaged foods. Once loaded, simply point your smartphone camera at the product barcode and the app will assign it a nutrition grade, letting you know instantly what choices are right for you and what products should best be avoided.
Tracking Food Intake
One of the biggest hurdles for those looking to eat healthier is actually tracking the food they eat. While people often work hard to prepare healthy meals they often forget about their snacking habits and things like that can quickly derail even the most fervent nutrition devotee.
There are now several very useful apps—such as DailyBurn Tracker or MealSnap—available to assist users in tracking everything they eat, giving them daily calories limits, estimating the caloric content of everything eaten, and most of all, providing users the opportunity to think about what they’re ingesting.
Beyond that, many traditional diet and nutrition companies like Jenny Craig have gone mobile, providing users with instant information regarding healthy eating choices and access to communities for that extra bit of support.
In the end, amidst the myriad of useless apps that you can download occasionally there appears a few that are actually useful, so if you’re looking to make healthier choices in 2012, let your smartphone help.