If you’re losing your way instead of your weight, University of Missouri Extension specialists have evaluated and recommended several smartphone and tablet apps that might help you get your New Year’s resolution back on track.
“Monitoring or tracking what you eat each day, as well as tracking your physical activity, can help you incorporate healthy food choices and regular activity into your lifestyle,” said MU Extension nutrition specialist Ellen Schuster.
Not all apps are created equal, Schuster said. That’s why MU Extension created two new publications with recommendations and information on apps evaluated by MU experts.
“Apps to Know From the Nutrition and Health Pros” (N580), available for free download at extension.missouri.edu/p/N580, lists nutrition and health apps that have been evaluated and recommended by MU specialists. Reviews and tips are also included.
“A SMART Start to Finding Nutrition and Health Apps” (N581), at extension.missouri.edu/p/N581, offers tips on deciding if an app is right for you before you download it.
When choosing apps, Schuster said it’s a good idea to review the app to learn about who created it. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, which indicate a lack of quality control. See if the app recommends ideas that are inconsistent with other sources of health and fitness information. If it’s too good to be true, it likely is.
Ask yourself if the app meets your needs regarding diet, recipes and cooking skills. Is the app easy to understand and use? Look for reviews by reputable nutritionists, dietitians or other health professionals.
Apps recommended by MU specialists
All apps listed below are free and, unless otherwise noted, available on iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android devices.
MyFitnessPal. Rated highly by Consumer Reports, this app tracks your food intake and physical activity. If your favorite foods are not listed in the database of more than 3 million foods, you can use your phone to scan barcodes to enter them. Also available for Windows Phone.
Cooking Matters. This user-friendly app allows users to identify some of their favorite healthy, easy and affordable recipes. Schuster recommends using this app to plan grocery shopping and meal planning for the week ahead.
Seasonal and Simple. Developed by MU Extension, this app is a guide to finding, selecting, storing and preparing fresh fruits and vegetables in Missouri. The app makes it easy to use fruits and vegetables that are in season and likely more affordable, Schuster said. It even has an option to find farmers markets in cities and counties throughout Missouri.
Glucose Buddy. Helpful to diabetics who want to track their daily glucose levels, this easy-to-use app lets you record glucose numbers, carbohydrate consumption, insulin dosages/medications, hemoglobin A1C and activities.
Simple Workout Log. (Android only.) This intuitive workout log helps users track strength training exercises, cardio activity and weight.
Conscious. (Android only.) This app lets users set reminders throughout the day to increase awareness of normal daily activities.
For more support in meeting your wellness goals, Schuster suggests two programs offered by MU Extension:
“Taking Care of You” is a multi-session program that offers practical strategies and experiences to help you deal with the stress in your life. To learn more and find a program in your area, go to extension.missouri.edu/takingcare.
“Stay Strong, Stay Healthy” offers strength training classes for middle-aged and older adults throughout the state. To find a program near you, go to www.missourifamilies.org/sssh.