- Nutrition apps can help you make better food choices, track nutrient intake, and build healthier habits.
- Apps can be used to track and share health habits with your registered dietitian (or any healthcare provider).
- For some people, nutrition apps could lead to an over-focus on food and health, leading to disordered eating habits.
Nutrition apps are an excellent way to track the quality of your daily diet, create healthier habits and stay motivated. In the past, nutrition apps primarily focused on calorie counting and weight tracking, but as more people have developed wider interests in wellness, apps have included more features to help improve overall health.
You can find apps designed to support behavioral aspects of nutrition, such as emotional eating, meal planning, community support, and more. The best nutrition app for you is the one that matches your health needs and goals, but here are five good options to consider (plus why a nutrition app can be beneficial).
If you live with a specific health condition that needs extra personalized support, you may want to consider working with a dietitian. A registered dietitian can also use the data you enter into these apps to provide customized advice and ensure that you are using the apps to benefit your health. Get started today.
Benefits of Using a Nutrition App
Nutrition advice is available everywhere, and it can be challenging to sort through what's accurate, but nutrition apps can help. The best nutrition apps use evidence-based research and education and often employ registered dietitians and other health professionals to create their content.
Depending on the type, a nutrition app can help you:
- Track your nutrient intake.
- Create healthier habits by setting goals and reminders for healthy eating habits.
- Set up meal plans to help you stick to a balanced diet.
- Find social support with a community feature some apps offer.
- Discover new recipes and learn healthy cooking techniques.
- Provide guidance on portion sizes, food labels, and nutrition facts.
- Learn more about mindful eating or other mind-body links to your eating habits.
Since app use has grown recently, scientists are interested in studying the impact on long-term health. One cross-sectional study examining diet or nutrition app users found positive associations with diet-related behavior changes like goal setting, motivation, self-efficacy, and increases in eating healthy foods. In this study, apps that provided education and created engaging user experiences were the most helpful in improving behaviors.
Studies also have found that a more personalized experience, especially if the app includes tools for self-monitoring and feedback, increases the likelihood of someone continuing to use it.
With these benefits in mind, the following five apps are a great starting point for building healthier habits.
5 Best Nutrition Apps
Below we outline the 5 best nutrition apps and how to use them.
Fooducate is an app that provides personalized plans and allows you to track food, set goals, and learn more about the nutritional content in your food choices. The goal for Fooducate users is to learn how to eat and track the quality of food based on nutrient density and macronutrients instead of calorie counting.
You can scan food using a barcode scanner (or search the database), and the app provides a grade based on nutritional content. Foods considered "healthy" get a higher rating ("A" or "B"). In contrast, foods with higher amounts of ingredients such as sugar, salt, or trans fats will score lower, and the app will explain why. It also offers alternative food options that may be better for you if you scan something with a low score.
Fooducate offers general recommendations for health concerns like diabetes or heart health. Depending on your food preferences, personalization can also be added, including low-carb, vegan, or other special diets with the paid version.
Start Simple with MyPlate is an app from the USDA designed for people who are beginning to make nutrition changes and for those who just want a straightforward app. It allows you to set goals within food groups—grains, vegetables, fruit, protein, or dairy—and provides education based on your nutrition needs.
Users can start with a stress-free quiz to assess their baseline nutrition knowledge, current food intake, and health goals. The results are then used to create personalized recommendations and goal setting within the MyPlate app and provide further guidance for meal planning, grocery shopping, and more. The app is free without a premium option, so you don't have to pay anything extra to access features.
The Cronometer app is an excellent tool for tracking nutrition and setting goals. It has a comprehensive database of foods to easily examine your daily intake of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
You can also log exercise, and the app syncs with other fitness and activity trackers to store your data in one location. All of these features are included in the free version, but the paid "Gold" account includes extras like nutrition scores, app customization, ad-free, and the ability to import recipes.
Cronometer Pro is also available as nutrition software for health professionals, so your registered dietitian can easily access your food diary or see nutrition reports to track progress.
Nourishly is an app designed to support a better relationship with food. From maintaining motivation with nutrition plans to supporting binge eating or emotional eating, Nourishly provides users with the tools to track behavior, mood, activity, sleep, and hunger scales and address behavior changes beyond calorie counting.
Nourishly uses "missions" to help users set, track, and reach their goals. The app also teaches coping strategies for barriers to healthy eating behaviors like negative self-talk or lack of motivation. It also can link with your care team, so your dietitian can follow your progress and provide feedback on your activities.
Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling and accepts the most popular insurance carriers. If you want to take the next step in your health journey, consider booking a virtual appointment with a Registered Dietitian.
PlateJoy is an app for those who need extra support with meal planning, recipes, and grocery shopping. Users answer a series of intake questions, including detailed questions about accessibility to food appliances. The app creates a meal plan and a grocery list based on your results. It also offers a one-click delivery option that directly adds foods from your meal plan to a shopping cart for participating grocery delivery services.
You can customize your recipes to fit different nutrition needs or food restrictions, such as vegetarian, kid-friendly, or gluten-free. You can also indicate whether you want to use batch cooking and leftovers and how much time you want to spend cooking. PlateJoy offers a ten-day free trial, with options to sign-up for monthly or annual subscriptions.
Nutrition apps can be a smart and motivating way to learn more about the food you eat and how to incorporate healthy nutrition habits. From food tracking, meal planning, and behavior change support, these apps provide an array of features that can help you reach your goals.
One disclaimer to consider: although health behavior changes are possible through nutrition apps, they can also be a source of anxiety or even lead to disordered eating habits for some people. If you feel overly anxious or fixated on tracking food and calories through a nutrition app, it may be time to take a step back.
Managing Your Nutrition with an RD
Apps can be an excellent first step on your health journey, but even with quizzes or tailored plans, they aren't always personalized to your specific needs. You can, however, use nutrition apps as a tool while working with a registered dietitian or other health care practitioner.
If you live with a specific health condition that needs extra personalized support, you may want to consider working with a dietitian. A registered dietitian can also use the data you enter into these apps to provide customized advice and ensure that you are using the apps to benefit your health. Get started with an RD today.
Frequently Asked Questions
See a Registered Dietitian with Nourish
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