Healthy Food Guide Uses MyPlate.Gov Standards to Track Calories

In case the other food diaries I’ve mentioned here on Smart Phone Healthcare haven’t been your style, be sure to check out Healthy Food Guide.

Healthy Food Guide is based on the dietary recommendations that can be found at MyPlate.gov. While the app doesn’t sync with an account on MyPlate.gov, if you try to go by those standards, it does implement those guidelines pretty well. Food can be added to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, which is pretty typical as far as food diaries go. However, unlike on other food diaries I’ve used (such as MyFitnessPal,) it doesn’t break things down according to fat, carbs, protein, and sodium. Whenever a food is added, a graph changes, letting the user know how much more than can eat in a certain category that day (there are five sections – grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, protien).

Below is a picture of the graph. It shows how many calories are left, as well as the percentages.

The app encourages users to try and eat “green” and “yellow” foods, and avoid the “red” foods, which is shown below for when the word “pizza” is searched. I think this is a good idea in essence, but I found that almost every food I added was “green.” Which would be fine, if everything I was searching was healthy, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t a “green” food. Even things that are obviously unhealthy, like ice cream and french fries. It might just be a glitch in the system, but hopefully that will be fixed. I think it would be interesting to see the “yellow” foods especially.

Overall, this is a very simple food diary. It doesn’t incorporate exercise, which may or may not be a plus for some people. For me, I like that. With food diaries I’ve used in the past, whenever I added exercise, it would give me additional calories. And I would end up thinking, “Oh, I have 300 extra calories. That means I can eat a big bowl of ice cream.” Not probably the best idea.

It’s very easy to set up an account, and I think the calorie goals are more accurate than other food diaries I have used. I have calculated my ideal caloric intake for weight loss using different calculations in the past, and this app has come the closest to matching that (unlike MyFitnessPal…which tried to convince me that 1200 calories was the way to go. No thank you.) The integration of the MyPlate standards are pretty interesting. It’s a nice change to see what types of nutrients the foods I’m eating have, and if I’m getting enough (or too much…darn those grains!) of a certain section.

There are a few things that should be improved. First and foremost, the database really doesn’t have the greatest selection. Something I love about MyFitnessPal is that it has seriously EVERYTHING. I mean, I typed in Costco samples before, and it had several entries for that. Quite often, I’ve found there to be foods from obscure restaurants I went to, which is cool. That isn’t the case with Healthy Food Guide. It has foods from a few restaurants, as well as most common foods, but it definitely has room for improvement.

Also, even though I don’t mind the absence of the exercise tracker, it may attract more users if that was implemented somehow. It might also be nice to have information regarding fat and sodium somewhere, just for those who do need to keep careful track of those factors. Incorporating social media might be nice as well, and the ability to add friends might be nice too, but obviously not a necessity for everyone.

All in all, it’s a nice little app for those who want something simple. I like the emphasis on selecting the right choices, and not just aiming to stay under a certain calorie goal. The description in the Google Play Store basically says, you can eat six chocolate candy bars all day and stay under your calorie goal, but that doesn’t mean it’s helping toward a healthier lifestyle. It moves beyond the basic idea of calorie counting, and places more of an emphasis on healthy eating. The app still in it’s early stages, so it cannot be expected to be perfect, but, it’s free, and I think that’s a cost anyone can afford just to try it out. It’s exclusively available for Android devices and can be downloaded here.