Nutrition tracking apps are incredibly popular. And why shouldn’t they be?
Apps offer a convenient way to track what you eat, receive tailored nutrition advice, engage in self-education, and hold yourself accountable for your eating habits.
Is nutrition tracking app advice worthwhile?
In today’s modern world, the do it yourself mentality is bigger than ever: we’re busier than ever, and we are regularly looking for ways to cut corners and save time, money, and energy.
Before nutrition tracking apps, consumers had to spend time, energy, and money on nutrition services through a dietitian or physician’s office. With the ever-increasing technology of smartphones, consumers are more likely to use an app than vett the advice or guidance of a professional.
Unfortunately, what apps have going for them in convenience and affordability they lack in efficacy and personalization.
Dietitians, with years of school and education, have the tools and knowledge to create services streamlined for the needs of each patient.
Apps, on the other hand, are based off arbitrary formulas that provide room for error, with consumers prone to misjudging their activity levels, portion sizes, or Caloric needs.
Should one enter their information into an app and be unhappy with the apps advice, it’s far too easy to change a few metrics and earn a few extra Calories for your daily intake.
Additionally, many apps base the nutrition content of various foods off of user-uploaded data, which leaves additional room for error, should an item be entered incorrectly.
Perhaps most worrisome, nutrition apps allow consumers to serve as the judge of their own health, skirting the accurate advice of a physician or dietitian, and avoiding important medical tests that may provide important information on a consumer’s individual nutrition needs.
Apps also fail to address the social, emotional and behavioral needs of a user, which are often the most crucial components of lasting lifestyle change.
So does that mean apps are all bad?
Not necessarily: apps can help pinpoint areas where you may be weak. You may notice that you fail to hydrate in the afternoons, or that you tend to eat more later in the week than you do earlier in the week. Using that information, you may be able to change your routine to be more mindful of your eating and drinking habits.
If you plan on using an app, use it as a rough guide or assessment tool rather than medical fact.