The First Step To Eating Healthier

March 24, 2011   32 Comments

There are forces around us that conspire against our good intentions. Eating healthier should be easy since it is so OBVIOUSLY a smart thing to do.

Food Journaling Apps

The sad reality - it is serious work to take responsibility for what food you choose to put in your mouth. Don't hide from this fact - embrace it.

The good news is that it has never been easier if you have a computer (which you must or you wouldn't be reading this) to create a food journal.

A food journal application is a simple program that allows you to enter the food you consume on a daily basis. Then, it will tell you how many calories you are inhaling and (hopefully) you can evaluate where you are going wrong.

Why is this the first step to eating healthier? Once you do even ONE day of a food journal, you will realize the time of day, the foods, and the habits that are hurting you.

Lately, I have been holding myself accountable for the what I eat on a daily basis using Weight Watchers Food Tracker both on my iPod and my computer.

You have to sign up for WW ($47.90) and then pay $18 per month to use the program. The tracker allows you to put in your foods, get PointsPlus values, monitor your daily and weekly target, keep track of your exercise, and find recipes that help you lose weight.

It is easy to use and kinda fun (until you put in that banana split you just ate - ooops).

But, there are FREE applications as well. My pal Ashley managed to lose about 40 pounds using Lose It! on her iPhone and computer. And she paid NADA!

Lose It! sets a calorie amount based on what you want to lose and measures your daily intake against it. You can also measure your nutrient values if you are interested in this feature.

I have heard good things about the free calorie counter applications - The Daily Plate on LIVESTRONG and SPARKPEOPLE.

I think SparkPeople is interesting site because they seem to have created a really strong community of people. Also, you can choose weight loss as a goal OR just healthier living.

(I know some thin people who ain't so healthy :)

SparkPeople is also free, but I find their reasoning for being free a bit, well, strange. From the website:

SparkPeople can be free because my wife and I were very early eBay employees and are now using our earnings from its success to make the world a healthier place. This is our way to give back and help the world.

Yeah, Snack Girl is FREE, too. See those ads over there on the right? (yes, SparkPeople has ads and that may be the reason it is free.)

Finally, for those Android users out there, my pal Shanna sent me to Fat Secret which is also FREE. She likes how you can put in foods and exercise and in the diet calendar, and it shows you where you stand for calories in versus calories out.

If you have never tried a Food Journal - give one of these a shot and listen to what it tells you.

Please share your favorite food journal applications.

Want to read about snacks?
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First 20 Comments: ( See all 32 )

I LOVE LoseIt! I use it a lot! Great app! My favorite feature is you can enter in the ingredients for a dish you just made and then how many servings it made and it tells you the per serving calorie count! LOVE!

I just recently downloaded the myfitnesspal app on my android phone. It has a huge database of foods. But the real reason I love it is the create a recipe part. I make most of my meals from scratch and used to use an Excel spreadsheet to track my food. I would have to look up each ingredients' calories and was exhausting! On this app, you can create a recipe and add all the ingredients and it calculates per serving. It's awesome and so convienent to have on my phone!

I use MyNetDiary - on the computer, my iPod, and my iPad. It really helps keep me accountable. They have free memberships up to "Maximum" memberships with various benefits for each level.

I've been on Weight Watchers for about a year now, and I love tracking my food. Before that I used to use a food journal that I found at Barnes and Noble. I find that even if I don't know exact calorie counts it just helps me to be aware of what I'm putting into my body.

My hubby and I have been using LoseIt! since the beginning of the year (yup...part of the New Year's Resolution stuff) and we love it. I have lost 13 pounds and he has lost about 17. I find that entering my food on a daily basis (I do it with each meal and sometimes in advance just to leave room for a treat) has motivated me to think about what I am eating and to get myself up and exercising. It's been a great app!

I use WWdiary on my Droid. I've lost a total of 42lbs since May of last year. It's amazing how much I grossly over ate. Journaling is a must. And when you write it down, you become accountable. And I've found that's when the magic happens!!

LoseIt! is awesome. It's on my phone so I always have it handy, and you can add foods and pick a meal you've eaten before (so it's FAST, once you've been using it a while), take into account your exercise routine when setting up your daily intake. Excellent!

Just re-iterating what an earlier reader said...myfitnesspal is actually a really good app....its available on the android, ios, bb and has a very large database of foods available

Yay! I got mentioned! I'm famous! ;)

While I hat FatSecret's name (I don't consider myself "fat"), I really like the website. You can put in foods that are not already in the database and either share them or use them privately. It also allows you to save frequently eaten meals and add them with one click. I've been doing SnackGirl's oatmeal with peanut butter plus coffee with sugar and milk every morning for several weeks now, and I don't have to type it all in! It's great there are so many useful sites out there that also have linked in phone apps!

Also, forgot to mention the forum at myfitnesspal is very helpful and usually quite busy and has loadsa info helpful for starters.

Other cool features includes being able to save meals that you use often so that they can be used repeatedly without having to search for them again.

Also, their exercise database is quite huge. I do tennis, swimming, cardio, weights and there are multiple variations of all those activities with varying intensities.

All in all, a really cool site that everyone should check out.

I think any system works as long as you follow and it make sure it's healthy with your doctor. For now I'm using Sparkpeople :)

Lose It! Free app on my ipod. Have been using it since end of Dec. and have lost almost 40 pounds (just another week or two to my goal...) I like that I can put in foods I eat, as I eat a lot of healthy stuff from Trader Joe's or that has no brand name as it is fresh fruit or vegetables. The other apps seem to only cater to the weight watchers and other packaged food crowd who are eating premade commercial meals or 'diet' commercial foods of the regular junk that made them fat in the first place. I found that the app works best if you are willing to do a total life style change and eat better (not just 'diet' until you reach a target weight and go back to the junk again). It helps you make better decisions. Like well I could have that cookie, but I could eat a banana and an apple for that same amount of calories. It also encourages you to exercise as if you exercise you get to add those calories right on top (since you already are restricting yourself). It also helps you not overeat thinking well I walked all day, etc. It gives a realistic count of what you might have burned. Can not recommend this app highly enough. I intend to also use it to "maintain" after I reach my goal weight.

Myfitnesspal is awesome! i love having it on my phone so no matter where i am at i can log my food, i'm rarely actually on a computer unless i am at work, but my phone is always there, so no excuses! i love how it saves your food in there, so after a few days, all the stuff i eat every day is right there to select. and it tells you how many calories you should be eating. Awesome!!

SG, how do you read my mind? Thanks for sharing this! I have yet to step into the world of smartphones, and am looking into one now for many reasons, and this reason is one of them. I don't journal my food on paper very well, and am hoping a smartphone with apps will help me do a better job. Thanks so much for posting this and thanks to everyone's advice & responses. I will use this to get going. Thanks!

(PS - If anyone is looking for a paper version with workout stuff in it, too, one that i got for Christmas is a fitbook ( It's been great for me so far when i can remember where i put it. Ha!)

I've got Lose It, NutriGenius, GoMeals, Restaurants, Nutrition, MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, an old points calculator, SparkPeople. I may have overwhelmed myself with all the options, but I still struggle to keep a food diary. I even have tried a paper journal, but the spots for putting in meals are small and I run out of room.

Any suggestions of how to not over think this? I am single and tend to eat out most meals, so have no clue how to figure calories unless they are written on the package.

I was recently diagnosed Type 2 diabetic, and am struggling to eat healthier.

I like - they have a free iPhone app or you can use the website. The food database is quite large and it is comparable to the WW tracker.

@Janet- You are going to have to eat places (or order at those places) where things are easily broken down to their components. For example, at a breakfast place, I might order an omlete, but would need to know how many eggs it is, etc. then sort of guess how much of whatever is in it for each component. You'll have to do some guessing and math on your own in some cases. You'll also have to get realistic about portion sizes- most restaurant meals are 2 to 3 servings. You just won't be able to eat the whole thing anymore if that is what you are used to doing. Especially since with diabetes you'll need to eat smaller meals and snacks all day long, so you'll need to make sure you leave calories for that. You'll also need to start asking questions about substitutions. I have found no problem with most places giving fresh fruit or cottage cheese in place of hash browns, etc. Also, fresh fruit, nuts, a piece of cheese, can easily be a cheap, ready to eat snack that doesn't involve going to a restaurant. Have you talked with your doctor or endocrinologist? I know friends who have gotten guides and or a referall to a nutritionist when they got diagnosed. Good luck. I hope you win the struggle.

Thank you for the tips T. I've been to the nutritionist once and she was a little help. I just need to make time for me to be important enough to take care of.

"The other apps seem to only cater to the weight watchers and other packaged food crowd who are eating premade commercial meals or 'diet' commercial foods of the regular junk that made them fat in the first place. " To "T"..just a comment; Weight Watchers does not make you eat ANY prepackaged food. They do sell foods under their name, but they are not mandatory; I've been on it for a year and have yet to eat one of their prepackaged food items.

I use LoseIt and LoveIt.

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