Life is so fast-paced. We rush to work, run to soccer practice, and race back home to make dinner. For all the running around we do in a day, we seem to loose more time than weight. How do we fit in healthy eating? We need an ‘easy’ button—or two. How great would it be to have access to a healthier lifestyle right at our fingertips—like on our cell phones? It turns out you can.
In 2011, 11% of percent of cell phone users from diverse backgrounds pushed the install button on a health app. It’s that easy! There is an abundance of new apps (tens of thousands) online and on smart devices that promise to make our healthy living more convenient. Finding an app that is useful is the hard part.
There isn’t a lot of research to show which apps work well. One study from John Hopkins shows that some mobile health apps (mhealth) have great potential to improve health. Dr. Alain B. Labrique, director of the Global mHealth Initiative at John Hopkins says, “They can keep us on the straight and narrow path to good health” by directing our thinking to our health and providing accountability partners.
We decided to make it easy for you by doing the research for you. In the end, we picked 7 health apps we found worthwhile.
Fast Lane to Grocery Lane
Living life in the fast lane frequently takes us straight to the fast food chains instead of the grocery lanes. There are several apps that can guide you on ‘the straight and narrow path to good health.’ They will take you from customized meal planning, to affordable and healthy grocery shopping, to healthy food on your table.
Food on the Table
This app helps you conveniently helps you to plan meals around your recipes, preferences and finds weekly sales for you. You can view your grocery list, which is organized by departments, on your smart devices. “Food on the Table” claims that it saves subscribers an average of 40% on their grocery bills. You can even add your own tried and true recipes online.
There is no cost for up to 3 meals a week. The paid premium membership offers unlimited meals and more recipes. One downside is that this app doesn’t provide sale information for some major grocery stores. Also, the nutritional information for recipes is only available online. (iOS/Android/online)
Bust a Meal
This online meal planning program can help you ‘bust a move’ through meal planning and grocery shopping. When you go online, you enter in your diet and recipe preferences. You can input food allergies, diet preferences (low fat, low calories, etc.), and recipe type preferences (pastas, casseroles, soups, etc.). Then, you pick some recipes and a grocery list is generated.
A nice feature of “Bust a Meal” is that the recipes include primarily nutritious whole foods. The nutritional information for each recipe is also available. This program is only available online and costs $1.99 a month. It may be a good investment considering that shopping with a purpose and a list can save you a lot of money. One problem I have had is that I haven’t been able to get the recipes on my smart phone. (online app)
The goal of “Fooducate” is to educate us about the nutritional value of the foods that we buy at the grocery store. By scanning a food item at the store with a smartphone camera, you can find out its nutritional worth. The app gives each food a grade. If the food you scan doesn’t make the grade, the app gives you a healthier alternative. This is a wise way to look at food especially if there are certain things that you want to avoid. (iOS/Android/online)
Cooking vegetarian and vegan meals may seem difficult, but there are apps to boost your confidence and creativity.
21- Day Vegan Kickstart
This app can start you off on the right path to healthy eating. It gives you a 21-day meal plan to help you eat vegan. Online there are interesting and helpful resources such as short videos, tips, and community forums to encourage and educate you about becoming vegan. While reading the resources, I became motivated to return to a vegan lifestyle. (iOS/online)
This app tantalizes your taste buds just by looking at the gorgeous photos. It inspires you to cook organic vegetarian food. There are 48 creative recipes that use wholesome ingredients like whole grains, seeds, and unrefined sugars. The step by step cooking instructions help you to whip up a delicious dish. You can also easily create a shopping list and send it through e-mail or SMS. Green Kitchen will leave you wanting more recipes. (iOS/online blog)
Some of the newest apps use games, videos, and incentives to get kids to eat better. Kids are fascinated with smart devices. They’re a great medium to motivate children to join us in a pursuing a healthier lifestyle.
First lady Michelle Obama’s first pick for a healthy app for kids is “Pick Chow!”. It has games and activities that show kids how to pick healthy meal options. In one of the games, kids can click and drag food to a plate divided in sections like the USDA’s “My Plate.” When they are done, they get a rating on their meals based on nutrition guidelines and points. There are also fun cooking videos with kid chefs and easy and healthy recipes to try. (online app)
Munch 5 a Day
This is another app getting approval from moms and kids alike. This app promotes munching more fruits and vegetables in a fun and appealing way. Kids can record and share their progress with family and friends. They can also get incentives for eating more fruits and vegetables. The only drawback is that you can only enter information for one child at a time. (iOS)
Whet your appetite for healthy eating with these health apps. It’s now easier than ever to start! Bon APPétit!
 “Health Apps | Pew Internet & American Life Project.”  “Tens of Thousands of Health Apps Available, but Which Ones Work?” Baltimore Sun.