For years I’ve espoused the many benefits of weekly meal planning. I rave to anyone (and even brag a little) about how it ensures we have home cooked meals most nights, how it keeps our grocery budget in check, eliminates a lot of food waste, and leaves little room for excuses about time. I can’t remember the last time I heard “What’s for dinner;” if I do, I point to the calendar on the refrigerator door.
From pen and paper to iPhone apps, there are numerous ways to adopt a meal planning habit in your house. Food On The Table is one digital tool that helps families plan meals almost effortlessly. The cooking, well, that will require a bit more muscle. I spent some time this week “playing” with the app and site, and asked Josie Maurer at YumYucky.com to take a look with me as well. She’s an equally health-conscious and busy mom who hasn’t quite adopted the meal planning strategy that I have. However, I think FoodOnTheTable.com changed her mind.
At FoodOnTheTable.com, or through their Android or iPhone app, you can make a weekly meal plan that is family-friendly (read: the kids will like it), keeps you organized, and reduces strain on your grocery bill. The app is free, as is a base subscription on the site; however, for more bells and whistles a monthly subscription is offered.
The site and app are both designed well. In fact, Josie and I agreed on her note that “It’s very interactive and highly visual, which encourages easy to understand navigation.”
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My life, like many others’, is centered around my iPhone. I can’t imagine my life without it. Web developers realize the increase in smartphone use could be helpful in managing diabetes and there are apps that can help diabetics count carbs and track their blood sugar trends. I reviewed a few of the free apps for the iPhone to see if they could be beneficial for diabetics.
This is a great starter app but there are definitely some limitations. It logs glucose readings but doesn’t indicate a before meal reading or post-prandial (1 hour post meal). These readings are the best for truly seeing how well the sugar is being controlled or how different foods can affect the blood sugar. It has the ability to upload your information to Twitter (#bant) and there is an online community for support and to share ideas. You can also upload your results to websites like www.healthvault.com so your doctor can see your trends at your next appointment. I think adding a medication reminder to help taking insulin or oral medications would be a useful tool to help people stay on track. Currently this app does not have nutritional information to help with tracking calories and carbohydrates.
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According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the U.S. Government, and dietitians all you need is 80 bites of food a day. This concept is behind the new 80Bites Diet created by registered dietitian Meredith Luce, M.S. and Pilates instructor Joan Breibart. The 80Bites Diet is promoted as a way to permanently retrain how your body feels hunger, teach it to eat slower, and reprogram the digestive system.
Due to chronic overeating, our stomachs stretch. The more a stomach stretches, the more of an appetite one has which leads to over-consumption and weight gain. 80Bites claims that by simply taking 80 bites of a food a day, your body can learn to intuitively eat a healthy amount. We are assuming that those 80 bites are nutritious foods, and not mouthfuls of cake.
The 80Bite plan is a 12 week plan that is explained very simply: Take fewer bites, your stomach container shrinks, you want fewer feedings, and finally you absorb fewer calories. As the name indicates, you eat 80 bites of food per day, divided into three meals and a snack. To monitor your bites, 80Bites has a smart phone app that you count your bites with. It’s considered the “pedometer for your mouth,” a practical way to track consumption and become aware of overeating. The app records each bite you take as you tap on the screen. If you eat too quickly, the app alerts you to slow down. When you get close to your maximum bites for the meal, the sound changes, too.
We aren’t entirely sure if doing everything for you, and focusing on quantity over quality, is the path to learning intuitive eating, but it does set a pace that can become habit if practiced over a period of time.
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Now introducing FatApp: the delightfully backwards way to food journal that may be the answer you are looking for.
Food journaling sucks. Whipping out your little notebook or phone to log every bite you put into your mouth is depressing. It doesn’t make you think twice about eating that Oreo your kid dropped on the floor, oh no, it just irritates you so you don’t log it down at all, which then makes your journal an inaccurate recording of what you’ve actually eaten which is why you aren’t losing weight.
FatApp is a food journaling app, but instead of recording what you do eat, (ie. lint covered Oreos) you log what you didn’t eat (the 3 you almost stole out of your kid’s lunch box.) Every bite you don’t eat is a success. Every little extra this and added dash of that you pass up is a small victory you can log. At the end of the day, you can look back at all of your achievements and feel pride instead of seeing the stuff you “shouldn’t” have had.
The app isn’t just for skipping dessert when it’s offered, or opting to only drink black coffee until your lunch break, it’s about making small, manageable changes that can really add up. Choose a non-fat latte over full fat? Log about 50 calories saved. Only ate half of a donut? Instead of chastising yourself for eating half a donut, you can pat yourself on the back for not eating the other half.
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As the New Year approaches, many people are planning to ramp up their level of exercise and eat healthier in typical resolution fashion. To help us along with the desire to finally get healthy, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has partnered with the Surgeon General to launch the Healthy App Challenge. This program will invite developers to submit health, wellness and fitness apps and is designed to encourage Americans to pair technology with the effort to make healthier lifestyle decisions.
“The challenge will highlight a selection of mobile apps in support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services efforts to empower individuals to make healthy choices using electronic technology,” the Surgeon General’s office said in a statement.
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