The Novice Foodie

Just eating real foods, lifting heavy things and learning about it along the way


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There’s an app for that

I was kind of late to the world of Smartphones, especially for a journalism major. But this May when I got an iPhone, I was quick to catch up. Immediately I dove into the world of apps, and after Facebook and Twitter, I naturally began searching for health and fitness apps.

After several months of experimenting and testing out several apps from all kinds of sources, it’s clear what fitness apps are my favorites.

 

FOR RUNNING: Nike+GPS is by far the coolest app for running. I really just wanted something to tell me how far I’ve run and also play my music. This app goes beyond that. It maps my route, alerts me my pace and time at every mile, and allows distance/time goal setting. A friendly voice quiets your music to announce your pace and, if you set a distance or time goal, the progress you’ve made and how far you have left to go. Also, if you sync the app with Facebook, the app automatically posts to your wall when you start a run, and when friends like or comment the post, you hear applause through your headphones as you run along. It never fails to put a smile on my face! And, at the completion of your run, the voice of a professional athlete lets you know if you set a new personal best time or ran more miles than last week.

FOR THE GYM: Nike Training Club has provided the best workouts for my gym routine. You can choose from a variety of categories like cardio drills, light weights, and target area workouts. You can also choose your intensity level,  beginner, intermediate or advanced. There are hundreds of options to choose from, and every routine leaves me feeling it the next day. Each workout includes a warm up and cool down, and lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. You can pause the workout at any time to watch a move be demonstrated, and recovery periods are built in. A trainer talks you through each step, reminding you of proper form and spouting encouraging words every so often. The app plays with your music and is very easy to use.

The only flaw I have found is the target area workouts. There is only one routine for each target area, and I would prefer more options. The full body workouts never disappoint, however.

FOR BIKING: Once again, I was really just searching for a way to track my distance and pace. iMapMyFitness allows you to do that, track your progress, map your route and listen to music, too. It’s similar to Nike+GPS, but allows you to choose between a run, walk, bike, swim, hike, sport, or gym workout. It is a comprehensive wellness app that even has a calorie tracker component.

FOR GROCERY SHOPPING: One of the most exciting finds was Fooducate, an app that you can use to scan the bar code of products, get a nutrition analysis and grade of the product, and compare it to similar products on the shelf. It’s the best thing that ever happened to grocery shopping! Now, when I’m faced with a decision between two boxes of whole grain pasta, I simply scan their bar codes and compare the two to see what’s better. The grade is based on other foods in the same category (i.e. juice, granola bars, pasta) and points out vitamin and mineral content. It offers alternative products with better grades and other product details. You can like products and share them by email.

 

What’s your favorite app? Got any good apps for ab workouts? Let me know what I should try!

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Nutrition Labels, continued (and a new take on “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”)

Branching off of my previous post, I recently discovered a news clip on Google + Sparks that discussed the nutrition labels companies are beginning to slap on their grocery products. While some products are using this already, (i.e. Kellogg and General Mills cereals,) it seems that there are a lot of ideas floating around but nothing set in stone yet.

Most people realize that package labels can be misleading. Will this nutrition info be misleading, too? As pointed out in the video, there are some definite advantages and important information pulled out front, but there is also equally important info left behind (like Trans Fat).

And the way that this information is presented is inconsistent and dependent on brand, as you can see in the examples shown in the video.

Maybe the next step for the FDA is to come up with a criteria that must be present on packaging, but with enough freedom so as to not limit the branding and design.

Another interesting bit mentioned in the clip was the Traffic Light labeling idea. It seems that the UK never went through with the idea, but perhaps it could be the easiest way to convey information to consumers. While you can always list numbers, adding a color code is a quick and simple way to add meaning to that number. Is X grams of sodium high or low? These are the standards that the FDA and other trusted organizations would have to standardize for labeling purposes.

For example:

Traffic light colour coding, as shown in the image above, tells you at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

  • red means high
  • amber means medium
  • green means low

In short, the more green lights, the healthier the choice.

“If you buy a food that has all or mostly green lights, you know straight away that it’s a healthier choice. An amber light means neither high nor low, so you can eat foods with all or mostly amber lights most of the time. But a red light means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars and these are the foods we should cut down on. Try to eat these foods less often and in small amounts.”

From http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/food-labelling.aspx#Tr 

And, this just in, New York City has gone so far as to make it a law that fast food restaurants post their calorie information on menus. According to the Reuters article, the British Medical Journal report shows the results of the 2008 law to be promising. As of now, only one in six customers change their dietary habits due to the information, but there are plans to take the law to a national level.

In other news, McDonald’s is taking their own healthy initiatives a step further by creating a nutrition-focused mobile phone app and also requiring apples to be included in Happy Meals. These seem like positive changes for which I have no dispute, but I can see customers feeling less than appreciative of the unwarranted influence on their eating habits.

According to the article, “Although subject to variation depending on what’s ordered, the new meals will represent, on average, a 20% decrease in calories, the chain said.”

As for the app, it will make nutritional information more readily accessible for customers. For this, I see only benefits. It’s accessible if you want it to be. It’s not staring you in the face on the menu, and it’s not directly influencing what comes with your meal. I know I will be downloading.

See more of my favorite apps here.