In our previous post about documenting food experiences, we took an in-depth look at the benefits of documenting food experiences, and we provided some handy tips on how to get started. Technology has facilitated the documenting of food experiences, and there are several apps help you to capture those experiences.
Our quest for comprehensive food diary apps was not without disappointment, however. Holistic food diary apps are hard to come by these days. Most food diary/food journal apps focus on calorie counting, weight goals, and assistance with overcoming eating disorders. Very few apps focus on the food experience.
In this post, we review the top food diary apps that help you to not only document your food experiences, but to help you create positive food experiences. In so doing, we looked at food diary apps through the lens of The Six Principles of Positive Food Experiences: Food, People, Environment, Knowledge Base, Interaction, and Motivation. We reviewed 9 different food diary apps. Overall we selected 4 apps that made the cut, so to speak.
As a disclaimer, we are not being paid or otherwise compensated in any way for reviewing these apps. The links contained herein are not affiliate links. This review is on our own accord as a service to our readers.
You Ate is the food diary app that comes closest to effectively documenting food experiences, although the app still has far to go. The app focuses on food awareness, with the idea that as you document the foods you eat, you can obtain a clear visual of whether or not you are eating healthy. This, in turn, may motivate you to make healthier food choices.
You Ate is very easy to use, you simply take a picture of what you are eating, and then label that photo as on-path (meaning you feel that you made a healthy food choice) or off-path (you feel that you did not make a healthy food choice). Then you can get an idea of your food choices over time. You can also share that information with others via the web.
A nice feature is that you can add notes to the photos to describe why you made the food choices you did, and your feelings about it. This aspect of the app puts it on the road to effective food experience documentation, but unfortunately the app stops there. There is a lot more they could do with the app to make it more comprehensive and reflect the whole food experience, so hopefully they will keep expanding the features.
You Ate is free from the App Store.
See How You Eat is another app that takes the focus away from calorie counting, and emphasizes food awareness. One goal of the app are to help you make better food choices regardless of your nutrition or weight goals. Another goal is to help you find a good balance of foods that will leave you energetic, healthy, and able to meet your responsibilities each day.
You simply take pictures of the foods you eat, and the app records the information.
The app also provides feedback on what you eat with regard to nutritional information and nutrition tips. In an effort to be healthy, the app does cut you a little slack through what it calls the 80/20 rule. The app says should eat healthy foods 80% of the time. The app lets you indulge in your favorite snacks or desserts the remaining 20%.
You can also enter notes about the food experience. For example, you can describe how you decided on the dish, where you purchased the ingredients, how you made the dish, with whom you ate (if applicable), any new cooking techniques you used, and any motivations you have once the meal is finished. Perhaps you packed a healthy lunch for yourself using a new recipe, and you are excited to share that information. Maybe you were just in a hurry and went to your favorite drive-thru restaurant. You can document any situation for awareness, reference, and goal achievement.
See How You Eat also has a coaching section as an in-app purchase. Here you can interact with a health coach to obtain nutrition information, and receive guidance on healthy eating and meal balance.
A nice feature of the app is the text notifications that remind you to eat at certain points during the day. This feature helps you to keep your energy levels up, to eat a variety of different foods, and to get a clear awareness of how your eating habits change (or remain the same) over time (day, week, month, etc.).
See How You Eat is free from the App Store, along with in-app purchase options.
MealLogger is more a visual and connection oriented food diary app. It is very easy to use: you just take a photo of your meal, add some details regarding nutrition information, and you’re done! As with the other apps, you can add notes to your meal entries, which is helpful from a documentation perspective. You can detail your food choices, your feelings about the meal, and any motivations or goals you may have after eating that meal.
The main feature of MealLogger is its social connection. You can share the information with your friends. This is interesting to think about that from a people perspective. You receive motivation and feedback from others regarding meal choices and experiences. Perhaps they ate a similar dish that they made a little differently. You can compare recipes and meals. You can offer suggestions or discuss any adjustments you made to a meal.
As an in-app purchase, you can connect with a professional health coach for nutrition and health counseling. They offer individual or group coaching. Whether you have goals to gain, lose, or maintain weight, or you just want to discuss tips for healthier eating, coaching may be just thing you need.
MealLogger is free from the App Store, along with in-app purchase options.
My Food Diary is very data oriented. The app claims to have over 100,000 food items to choose from as you enter in your eating information. Once you select a food item, the app automatically fills in the nutrition information for you. The app also has a food label image to familiarize you with that nutrition information.
You can record meals and snacks throughout the day, and then examine your eating habits based on the many charts and reports available. On the diary for each day, you can add in notes, which is helpful from a food experience perspective. You can include how you feel, the environment in which you ate those meals, and other information.
Although the app is data heavy, that information is very helpful. You can understand not only your overall daily caloric intake, but where you excelled and where you need to improve, as well as how you are meeting different food goals.
In addition to tracking information and generating reports, the app also has a discussion forum. There you can ask questions or talk about different topics with fellow app members.
From a food experience perspective, the app is definitely more quantitative, but it does have somewhat of a balance between data and awareness.
My Food Diary is available via the web. The app has a free 7-day trial, followed by a fee of $9 per month.
So there you have it: the top 4 apps that will help as you compose your food diary. If you choose to use a food diary app, we encourage you to select the one that works best with your individual focal points.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Do you use food diary apps? Which ones do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comment section, and use the social media links next to this post!
Is there an app that is not on this list, but should be? Let us know!