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free wellness apps

 

When you start to eat well, it can feel like a time drain at first! To help out, consider all of the resources available to you. Not everyone prefers apps or tech-based toys but for those who do, they can be time game-changers. While many websites and apps (hellooooo social media…) tend to waste time, strategic use of time-saving apps can actually help make wellness easier and more streamlined. For the tech-lovers out there, here are 5 of the best healthy eating apps for your Apple or Android device. All of them are free except one, and it’s only $1.99.

 

1. Zipongo (free on the App Store and Google Play)

recipe app

Best for: easy-to-use recipe app (and some meal planning)
How it works: Set up your dietary preferences and allergies, then peruse the vast recipe database, divided into a variety of categories (including low-calorie, in season, and 15 minutes or less, among many others). From there you can select your favorites and add recipes and their ingredients to a shopping list (divided by grocery department).
Pros: The app boasts many healthy recipes and the categories make them easy to search through. It’s convenient to add the ingredients to your grocery list, and the divided list saves time wandering in the grocery store.
Cons: There is not an easy way to create a digital meal plan from the recipes you choose.

 

2. Pepperplate (free on the App store, Microsoft store, Google Play, and Amazon, available as a full website)

meal planning app

 

Best for: meal planning (and a self-created recipe database)
How it works: Create a recipe database from your personal recipes (entered manually) and imported recipes from over 30 different recipe websites including All Recipes and Eating Well. Add recipes to a meal plan and then to a shopping list (divided by grocery department).
Pros: Meal planning and creating your shopping list is very easy to do, and again, love the divided grocery list.
Cons: Requires a time investment to set up at first, but only until you have a good database built up.

 



 

3. Fooducate (free on the App store and Google play, available as a full website)

 

 

Best for: choosing healthful foods
How it works: Use the “Food Finder” section to scan a barcode or search for a product and see it’s “grade” based on an A through D grading system. The app also provides an explanation for the grade and tips or alternatives to improve nutrition. The app also has recipes, a food/health tracker, and a “diet tidbits” section.
Pros: I love that it includes the explanation behind the grades, so you can know whether or not a new food or product is something you want to include. For the most part I agree with the explanations and they are backed by evidence.
Cons: The food tracker is not the easiest to use and I preferred to ignore that part of the app. Also, don’t allow “bad grades” to label a food “off limits” if you really love it. Just eat it less often and/or in smaller portions!

 

4. Harvest – Select the Best Produce ($1.99 on the App store)

Best for: tips for produce selection and storage
How it works: Enter your state and get a list of produce that are in season and information on how to properly select, store, and use them. The app also gives information on the typical pesticide levels found in each type of produce.
Pros: Great way to expand your repertoire of fruits and vegetables, and the pesticide content info helps prioritize organic purchases to save money.
Cons: Unfortunately, this app is only available for Apple devices. Some users found the information on produce seasons in their area to be inaccurate.

 



 

5. Plant Nanny (free on the App store, Microsoft store, and Google Play)

free hydration app

 

Best for: promoting hydration
How it works: Enter your weight and choose a cute little baby plant (and a flower pot). The app tells you how much fluid to drink each day (count anything that doesn’t have alcohol or added sugars in it!). As you drink, you water your plant. As you water your plant, it grows. Once it’s grown up, place it in your garden and plant another! If you don’t drink enough one day, your plant will be wilted the next, and if you underhydrate for two days, your plant will be dying on the third. Drink enough on the third day or your plant dies!

 

Ironic, isn’t it, that it took this app to get me, a dietitian, to drink enough water in order to keep my animated plant alive (as opposed to keeping my actual real body healthy)?
Pros: For the right personality, it’s delightfully cheesy and motivates you to hydrate. The plants are cute and there are several to choose from. Watering your plant is easy and not time-consuming.
Cons: Since the app only uses weight to estimate hydration needs, it overestimates if you have a higher BMI. If your BMI is over 30, find a “normal” weight for your height, add about 25 lbs, and use that as your weight in the app for accurate recommendations.

 



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TIME TO VOTE!Be sure to enter your vote for Dietitian on a Diet’s next feature! The runners-up are:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

This is a style of exercise training that involves training at…well, high-intensity intervals. This pattern of exercise involves alternating between lower- and higher-intensity bouts of exercise. Research shows that incorporating high intensity intervals can provide many of the same benefits as lower-intensity exercise, but with a shorter amount of time spent exercising. HIIT workouts are often promoted for fat loss, aerobic fitness, blood sugar management, decreasing inflammation, and improving cholesterol.

Intermittent Fasting

The term “intermittent fasting” has been used to describe a wide variety of eating styles and schedules, all based on the premise that fasting has metabolic benefits. These eating styles incorporate regularly scheduled “fasts”; some include complete fasts for 1 or more days per week or 1 week per month, but often (and for the style I would be following) intermittent fasting involves limiting the “eating window” to a certain part of the day and fasting for the remainder. The primary goals with intermittent fasting are often to 1) lose weight, 2) increase energy, or 3) reduce inflammation.

Budget-driven Meal Planning

This is actually a brain-child of mine, compiled from everything I have learned about how to drive the cost of healthful groceries down as far as possible. This way of purchasing food and eating has cut many of my clients’ grocery costs by 25%, even while eating healthful food. One particular client, with a family of 8, decreased her grocery bill by 50%! In this I will share what we spend on groceries, where we shop, how I save money, and how I do it all while eating healthfully.

Be sure to vote for the diet or exercise plan you most want to learn more about!

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Vote for the diet you’d like to learn more about (or would most sadistically like to inflict upon yours truly…just kidding! 😉)

Voting will be open for one week!

 

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Help meI’m gearing up for my next “diet” and I want to know what you want to know more about! Here are some suggestions:

Vegetarian Diets

There are many varieties of vegetarians, but in general, they don’t eat meat and/or animal products for either health or ethical reasons. Some vegetarians (called pescatarians) eat only fish and no other meats, while lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products. Vegans avoid eating any food that is or contains animal-based products. More recently, the term flexatarian was introduced as a name for people who are trying to eat fewer animal products, but are not quite ready to make the leap to cutting them out entirely.

Gluten-Free for Celiac Disease

Gluten-free eating has been very trendy as of late, but originally the only people who focused on cutting out gluten were those who have a serious condition called celiac disease, in which their body has an auto-immune response to the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye products.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

This is an eating style I recommend for people who are struggling with inflammatory conditions (anything from inflammatory bowel disease to arthritis to diabetes and more) to reduce the overall amount of inflammation in their bodies. In general, the principles of anti-inflammatory eating are beneficial for most Americans because our typical diets tend to be pretty pro-inflammatory.

Low-Purine for Gout

People who have an inflammatory condition called gout accumulate painful crystals in their joints in response to the amino acid purine. During a flare-up, they typically must follow a low-purine diet (and often times take medications) in order to help resolve the intense joint pain.

Low-FODMAP for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

This tricky-to-follow but yet-so-worth-it diet can provide seemingly miraculous relief for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For many years, the causes of the digestive symptoms of IBS were not understood, and these people suffered for a long time. Thanks to Monash University in Australia, so much more is understood about IBS and following this diet process can lead to HUGE improvements in symptoms.

Comment on this post (or on Facebook or on Instagram) with the eating style you would like me to feature next – these are just ideas, feel free to suggest anything you want! The top three suggestions will be put in my next poll for voting.

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“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

Tony Robbins

 



 

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A big thank you to Molly Koczarski, RD from Nutrition BS who featured me and two other RDs in an “Ask the Dietitian” guest post! What a blast!

Check it out here!

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