Looking for nutrition advice, tracking, or feedback? You know there’s definitely an app for that.
Many students are familiar with downloading apps like Lose It! or My Fitness Pal to track calories, macros, and exercise. The trouble with using these apps is that they reinforce using an external indicator of when, how much, and what to eat, when we know the best guide is using your own internal hunger and fullness cues. Because we also know that food restriction can lead to binge eating and that dieting is a top risk factor for developing an eating disorder, nutrition apps that closely track and dictate food intake can do more harm than good. What’s an app enthusiast to do?
Many of us do benefit from having a system in place to help us make changes in our nutrition mindset and food choices, whether that’s jotting down notes or using an app. There are some lesser known, but helpful nutrition apps out there that promote more mindful or intuitive eating based approaches. The commonality of these apps is that they do not promote or prescribe a certain pattern of eating; rather, they guide the user in employing their own internal cues of hunger and fullness to increase their awareness of their individual eating pattern and choices.
The Peace with Food app acts as a guide to build awareness of your own personal “Rhythm of Eating” by prompting checks with hunger, fullness, and tastes to help you find food more enjoyable and satisfying. The app also provides access to videos and Q&As on Intuitive Eating. Best for: those looking for support in following an Intuitive Eating approach.
This app is associated with the USDA MyPlate and is centered around a Goals Dashboard. Users can set their own goals or have goals generated for them; goals may include “have a protein food as a snack” or “try a new whole grain.” There is also educational information on food groups, portion sizes, and challenges. Best for: someone interested in making changes to include more nutritious food choices, increase variety in their meals, or who may need tips for implementing new food habits without imparting a diet mentality.
This app bills itself as the Mindful Food Journaling app. You take photos of the food you eat and include details like how you felt while eating, how much time passed between meals, and how much you enjoyed what you ate. It does not track calories or macronutrients. Best for: those who enjoy food journaling, but would like to do so without being bombarded by calories or macros.
Originally developed for those in recovery from eating disorders or disordered eating, Recovery Record employs concepts rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to utilize meal tracking, physical and emotional observations, and affirmations to address general eating or weight concerns. The app can also be linked to your clinical care team in a HIPAA compliant format. Best for: those with eating disorders or disordered eating concerns.
University Health Center provides a variety of services for students with eating and body image issues, including an evaluation, short-term individual therapy, nutritional counseling, medical assistance, and/or other services as appropriate. These services are provided by a multi-disciplinary eating disorders treatment team.
For information about individual therapy, please call 706-542-2273 or check the CAPS website. If you’d like to set up an appointment with the dietitian to discuss nutrition counseling for a possible eating disorder, please call 706-542-8690 or schedule online.
Written by: Beth Kindamo, Nutrition Education Coordinator, UHC Health Promotion