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SlimKicker Turns Tracking Food and Exercise Into a Game

If incentives cause people to lose weight, does competition do it as well? Well, SlimKicker, might prove if that is true as well.

At first glance, SlimKicker looks like just about any other food and exercise diary. You can enter exercise, food, and track your weight and other goals. However, it hosts different challenges that its users can join, and some of them yield actual prizes — not just badges like many sites have. Many of the challenges give you points for winning, which I will talk about next.

SlimKicker is similar to Weight Watchers in the sense that is point-based. However, instead of losing points for the foods you eat, you get them. The healthier the food, the more points you get. And what can you use the points for? From what I can tell, you can redeem them for prizes, but I have yet to figure out

One of my favorite parts of SlimKicker is the visualization aspect of it. You can upload a photo of the rewards that you want, when you reach a certain goal our level. When you reach those, SlimKicker lets you know, and you can redeem the reward. While it is up to you to provide the reward “promised,” it’s a nice reminder to see a reward whenever you login.

SlimKicker’s goal is to help its users keep motivation. How many of us have gotten all revved up about a new exercise regimen, or diet, only to give up on it a week later? I know I’m not the only one. With the challenges and inspiration feed that SlimKicker has, it is easier to stay motivated.

I know I talk a lot about food and exercise trackers here, but there are just so many, and to be honest, many of them have really unique features. One of the best ways to stay healthy, and out of the doctor’s office, is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and by using these websites and apps, you can do just that.

There is a free app for iOS devices, which can be downloaded here.

March 25, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

The Eatery: A Visual Food Diary

When it comes to food diary apps, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. I’ve featured several different food diaries in the past. While they all have certain interesting features, it ultimately comes down to one principle: add food throughout the day, and see how many calories you’ve eaten. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a mobile food diary. But for someone wanting to create a new one, it’s important to have a unique idea behind it.

The Eatery does just that. It’s not just a mobile app, but a health experiment as well. The difference between this and other food diaries, is that you don’t record calories, fat content, etc. You simply just take a picture. This video from the website describes it pretty well:

It is definitely an interesting concept, that’s for sure. I just wonder how effective it is, since you just are taking pictures of your food, rather than recording their health content. I know that I don’t always realize how many calories are in something until I look up the information online, so I’d hate to be taking pictures of food and putting them on the app, thinking they are healthy, when actuality, they are not. I guess that’s why they let other people rate your food, but I did see some people complain about people who rate all food as unhealthy, regardless of what it is.

I do like how it creates a graph, showing when you eat the most unhealthy foods. That could be very helpful if someone was trying to figure out what times of day are unhealthiest, and learn how to combat that.

This is a free app, and is available in the iTunes app store.

February 6, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

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.

November 16, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.