There are countless apps to measure and track every aspect of your life. Apps for weight management and fitness tracking have flooded the market, and it’s no wonder that an area in which many struggle would have the most options. If you are wondering what the right app might be for you, here are things to consider and programs that may align with your goals.
Determining which app is best suited for you starts with establishing how much interaction you want to have with the app and what kind of support you need. Is the goal to create food and lifestyle shifts with interactive education, food tracking and coaching along the way to help create smarter choices? Is it more basic tracking to just keep things in check? Or is food tracking the last thing you want to do and would you rather have tools to help with shifting away from stress and the emotional side of eating?
If you are simply looking for a food and activity log to keep yourself in check and accountable, then basic apps like Lose It! and MyFitnessPal may be a good fit. Both have large food databases as well as the ability to scan barcodes for easy tracking. Lose It! does have an additional app, SnapIt™, that allows you to just take a picture of your food rather than having to log it. It is still in beta testing and caloric accuracy may be questionable; however, convenience cannot be beat, especially if you are averse to manually logging foods. To upgrade for more extensive integration with fitness trackers as well as more comprehensive nutrient tracking, Lose It! charges $39.99 per year and MyFitnessPal charges $49.99 per year.
Making a Lifestyle Change
If you are looking for a well-integrated program that provides tracking of food, exercise, education and motivational support in a highly interactive way, Noom may be a good option. The focus is creating a lifestyle shift and a “new normal” through interactive tools and quizzes. It also includes a personal coach to help keep you motivated and accountable, which is unique compared to other apps. Noom prides itself on taking a behavioral change approach, with an extensive intake form considering habits, likes and dislikes—whether you cook at home or dine out and what part of the day you struggle most with snacking.
Although Noom touts and supports behavioral shifts, it is still a caloric-based program with the goal of calorie reduction through better food choices and lifestyle changes. There are no foods or food groups that are banned in Noom. Instead, foods are grouped into three categories based on nutrient and calorie density. The color coding of foods into green, yellow and red categories helps easily designate which foods can be eaten without caution and which foods should be consumed in moderation. This can take away the stigma of certain foods and helps educate the user on which foods should be most celebrated. Red food items are the most calorically dense and are caution foods. This category does include healthy oils like avocado, nuts and seeds. The downside is that some users may limit the red category foods too much and not get enough healthy fats in their diet. Nutritious, calorically dense foods can also provide satiety as well as anti-inflammatory components.
Noom does give a lot of bells and whistles, including personalized suggestions, engaging graphics and quizzes, integration with fitness apps, exercise tracking, workouts and personal coaching. And it comes at a cost. A 14-day trial is only $1, but ongoing costs are $59 per month. A yearlong plan does bring the cost down to just under $20/month, which puts it more in line with other programs.
Changing Your Relationship with Food
Developed by Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and medicine at University of Massachussetts School of Medicine, Eat Right Now is an evidence-based program that is not about calories, but rather a program to change one’s relationship with food. Utilizing mindfulness training, it focuses on identifying habit loops that drive unhealthy eating patterns and addictive behaviors while shifting them into a healthy-habit loop. The program’s interactive exercises look to increase awareness of triggers and retrain the user to hear the body’s true hunger signals versus a stress-eating response. The program’s research has shown it helps reduce food cravings by 40 percent. It includes daily lessons, journaling and live coaching in weekly group meetings. With less emphasis on what you are eating and more emphasis on the why, Eat Right Now offers a comprehensive program to address and shift the emotional relationship with food.
The program has three tiers of pricing, which include $24.99 monthly, $99.99 for six months or $129.99 for a year. It has a 28-day money-back guarantee.
Tracking, previously known as “food journaling,” has been a proven method for monitoring and aiding in weight management; however, weight and food can be a very complex issue. Your individual goals and your relationship with food may help with your decision-making process. Apps can be a supportive tool to track and help foster shifts in eating habits, but also note that most are very general frameworks and may not be personalized enough to fit your bio-individuality.