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Our country is a bit addicted to our iPhones, androids, and other smartphones. Mine is usually always on me, and while, it is incredible that I can look up anything at anytime, I know I should take a break from my phone every once in a while. All about balance. It’s totally not necessary to clutter my brain with email, facebook, and twitter within minutes of waking up.
Since most people always have their phones on them, they can be a helpful tool to living a healthy lifestyle. Apps can be used to track steps during the day, nutrient intake, and make grocery shopping a breeze.
Here are some awesome apps you can download. They are all FREE, except two noted below.
Nutrition & Food
What It Is: Fooducate is your personal grocery store dietitian. You simply scan a food bar code, and the app will bring up the nutrition facts label and interpret it for you. If you’re not sure how to read food labels, this app will help you out.
Pros: Gives you positives and negatives about the ingredients, like high in fiber or high in added sugars. It looks at nutrients in the food and added ingredients like artificial flavors or sweeteners. Most people don’t know what the chemicals in the label actually are, so Fooducate will let you know. It also offers products alternatives.
Cons: It grades the food based on their nutrient criteria. Yes, it is helpful to see how a food “rates,” but grading a food as an A+ or D may cause people to think a food is “good” or “bad.” Food is food. If the grading system doesn’t make you feel guilty about eating ice cream graded as a “D,” then great! If it does, you may want to avoid this app.
What It Is: Scan your favorite food, beauty, cleaning, or other products. Good Guide wants you to find products that are healthy, green, and ethical. It rates products based on these factors and allows you to filter the issues most important to you. If you are careful about the ingredients you eat, try this out on your cleaning and beauty products, which may contain tons of toxins and known carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds).
Pros: There are so many categories, such as personal care and babies and kids, and filters to use, like fragrance-free or organic. It really digs deep into the companies with the goal of transparent practices. Yes, your coffee may be organic, but are the farmers being paid a fair wage?
Cons: It can be overwhelming to look at all this information. I would recommend choosing the filters MOST important to you and going from there. Start with one category, and find alternatives or DIY options. Making your own cleaners is simple with a few ingredients like white vinegar and baking soda.
What It Is: Planning ahead is a key aspect of living a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis. Zip List is a grocery-shopping app with recipes to create grocery lists.
Pros: It has a large database of foods to add to your grocery list, and you can create multiple lists for different stores. I know from personal history that having a grocery list helps me stick to my grocery budget!
What It Is: Foodily is the largest recipe search engine. Search over 2 million recipes, or get creative and add your own. Search for recipes without certain ingredients, like a chili without meat or cookies without gluten.
Pros: It reads like a social feed. Follow your favorite famous chefs or recipe bloggers to find new recipes, or you can use the search feature if you know what you want to make. You can also filter the search for “quick” or “top-rated” recipes.
My Fitness Pal
What It Is: My FItness Pal is a calorie and fitness tracker. Based on your entered height, weight, age, and activity level, it will estimate your energy needs to maintain, lose, or gain weight.
Pros: It has the largest database with over 2 million food items, including restaurant foods. It syncs with your account, so you can use it on both your phone and computer.
Cons: I am not a big fan of calorie counting to lose weight because it doesn’t look at the NUTRIENTS (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients) in foods. For a nutrition newbie, it can be useful to see how many calories are in the foods you’re normally eating. I would not recommend this app for those who struggle with an eating disorder or emotional eating.
Allergy & Gluten Free Diet Tracker by Fooducate
What It Is: If you have a food allergy or intolerance, you may spend hours in the grocery store reading labels or googling hidden allergens in foods. This app scans bar codes like Fooducate but looks for allergens.
Pros: It gives you a list of the most common allergens to make off and help you find foods that are safe for you. There is also a comments & discussion feature for foods for consumers to talk about the safety of products.
Cons: The cost may be high, but it could save you time in the grocery store and ease in knowing that the product is confirmed to be allergen-free.
Food Allergy Detective
What It Is: If you have stomach aches, bloating, rashes, or other symptoms and don’t know why, it could be related to hidden food sensitivities or intolerances. This app allows you to check off foods and symptoms that occur.
Pros: By tracking symptoms and foods over time, you can begin to recognize any potential food sensitivities. Elimination diets or blood testing can help identify these sensitivities, but this app may save you time and money. If you notice you regularly get bloated after drinking soymilk, you can play with eliminating soy and see if your symptoms change.
Cons: It is not free.
What It Is: Recovery Road is a highly-rated app designed for those recovering from eating disorders. You can receive reminders about eating and track your meals, including recording your feelings, episodes of binging, and more.
Pros: Recovery Road allows you to share your progress with your treatment team, and your dietitian, doctor, or therapist can see how you have been doing on a daily basis. Since they can’t be with you 24/7, this is a great accountability tool for you and your team. It allows you to build coping skills and work towards goals.
There are plenty of other apps for fitness and health tracking that I’ll cover in a future post, but hope this list is a good start!
What are your favorite smartphone apps? I’m always looking for new ones that could help me or others.