Diet apps change a life

Jan 13, 2014 by Carol Bareuther

My husband has been chubby for years. It’s not that he hasn’t tried to lose weight. First there were the diets — South Beach, Atkins, and the Grapefruit Diet. Then came short appearances at Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous. He’d lose weight, and not too long after it would magically reappear just like long lost relatives for Thanksgiving dinner.



Little did we realize this vicious cycle would all come to an end with the purchase of a new cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Today, he’s looking and feeling leaner thanks to a phone app that has tuned his tech-minded brain into eating healthfully.



There are scores of cell phone apps today that can help guide food choices at home and on-the-go. Here’s a review of a few of the good ones that are free.



Lose It! This is the app that has trimmed my husband’s belly so much he wasn’t asked to play Santa Claus last year. It’s essentially a calorie-counting tool. What he likes is the ease in which he can find or add the foods he eats (everything from the Bacon, Egg & Cheese sandwich he eats at Subway each morning to a dinner steak he grilled at home), see how many calories he’s eaten as the day progresses and, come dinner time, see how many more calories he has left before he reaches his pre-set calorie limit for the day.



This daily calorie goal he set from his height, weight and weight goal. He can also add exercise. An hour walk burned enough calories for him to be able to eat one double-stuff Oreo and still stay under his daily calorie limit.



Spark Recipes. This app provides an easy mobile way to access nearly half a million recipes from one of the world’s largest healthy recipe Web sites. Navigate by category, course, cuisine, dietary needs or occasion. Many recipes include photos of the finished dish. Most also come with a nutritional analysis per serving.



There are also short instructional videos available such as how to cut a mango. You can also save favorites or share them via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.



ShopWell. Losing weight or just eating more healthfully starts at the supermarket. That’s where this app comes in handy. Input what you’re looking for – weight loss, heart healthy, gluten-free – and the scoring system in the app rates foods (both fresh and branded) on a scale of 0 to 100 based on how well the items match your diet needs.



There’s also a visual element. Good foods are scored in stop-light green and not-too-good choices in red. ShopWell scores have been developed and reviewed by registered dietitians, so you know you’re getting accurate information. The app also gives you ingredient and nutrition information as well as enables you to put together a healthy grocery list.



Seafood Watch. If you want to cut down on the red meat or make sure you’re choosing sustainable seafood, check out this app. It’s a digital pocket guide to ocean-friendly sushi and seafood. Search by common market name or by region, or for choices from the “super green list” that names seafood choices good for people and the planet.



The latest version of this app has a feature called Project Fish Map, which allows users to share markets and restaurant information they discovered in their travels. Information in this app is regularly updated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.



Veggie Weekend. Lastly, if your New Year’s resolutions call for going meatless one or more days a week, download this app. The basic free version comes with 18 recipes that includes Palak Tofu, Saffron Risotto, Chili con Frijoles, Adzuki Bean Burgers and Chanterelle Pie. Photos come with each recipe.

Four additional digital recipe books – Vegan Thanksgiving & Christmas, Inspired by Asia, Breakfast Treats, and Vegan Desserts – are available for 99 cents each or $2.99 for all four.


Carol Bareuther is a registered dietitian and a regular contributor to The Triton. Comments on this column are welcome at