Using mobile technology to keep clients’ nutrition on track.
Holiday pounds can pile up quickly over the years, and the consequences of poor food choices can last a lifetime. Fortunately, the Web and an ever-expanding array of smartphone apps can arm your clients with knowledge and tools that will keep them accountable to their nutrition goals and help them maintain healthy diets. Read on for tips on food-related websites and nutrition apps that your clients should bookmark and download before heading into the new year.
The mobile app Fooducate (www.fooducate.com; free, iPhone & Android™) makes learning interactive. Find a food, take a picture of its barcode with the phone’s camera and instantly learn about product details. Foods are categorized by letter grades (A+ for healthy) and assigned FoodPoints (for dieters). The app does not display detailed nutrition facts, but general product alerts—pointing out confusing serving sizes or excessive amounts of sugar, additives and preservatives—offer warnings not always evident from reading a label.
Food courts and restaurants can be alluring during long shopping days and family outings. Clients equipped with fast-food mobile apps, such as Fast Food Calorie Counter ($0.99, iPhone) and Restaurant Nutrition (free, iPhone & Android), can quickly find healthier on-the-go options.
Most local grocery stores have websites or apps to help customers plan meals around weekly sales. For those that don’t, the following mobile apps may make a client’s next trip to the grocery store less overwhelming and more cost-effective:
Food on the Table
www.foodonthetable.com; free, iPhone & Android This customized cookbook shows only recipes that jibe with the user’s personal preferences for cooking times, types of food, styles of dishes and dietary restrictions. Assign multiple grocery stores to your profile to view local deals. Bonus: The built-in grocery list automatically updates when meals are added or removed.
Prep & Pantry
www.prepandpantry.com; free & $4.99, iPhone & iPad The app creates an inventory of the kitchen. Scan items into the “pantry” and include relevant information (item photos, coupons, quantity, extra notes). Search items by name, expiration date and location (kitchen fridge, garage freezer, etc.) and add foods to the shopping list when running low. Bonus: Grocery purchases are synced to the app, making rescanning unnecessary.
www.shopwell.com; free, iPhone This one is perfect for finding foods that match dietary needs and preferences. Set profile goals and customize the “wants” and “don’t wants” in a diet (more calcium, less sodium, etc.). Based on that profile, the app determines which foods score high, which ones to avoid and why. Bonus: Substitutes and food alternatives are always listed.
In the last decade, dozens of food diaries have become available digitally via the Web and mobile apps. Most of these tools are free and include comprehensive features that track fitness and foods; examples are SuperTracker (www.choose myplate.gov, previously mypyramidtracker.gov) and The Daily Plate (www.live strong.com/thedailyplate). “By using a diary to record” calorie intake, meal times, situations and moods, Shapiro says, “one may learn the emotional reasons for eating other than hunger.” For more on food journaling using smartphones, read “You App What You Eat” in the sidebar.
Personal trainers who engage clients in social networks can offer professional support by “liking” status updates that promote healthy behaviors, posting motivating comments to conversation threads or creating healthy challenges with apps like ChallengeLoop (www.challengeloop.com; free, iPhone), which integrates with Facebook.
Holiday meals can bring friends and strangers together. GrubWithUs (www.grubwithus.com), a new social network for foodies, adds a twist to the dining experience (think Groupon™ meets Meetup). Diners (or “grubbers”) select the date, time and type of meal (sushi, Italian, vegan, etc.), and GrubWithUs makes the reservation at a local restaurant for a discounted price—the only mystery ingredients at the table are the dinner guests.
Explore these tools and resources for yourself and recommend the ones most appropriate for your clients before they head out for the holidays.