Monday, February 17, 2014

APP ALERT! - Fooducate

The last twenty years has brought us into such a technologically advanced age with information literally at our fingertips. One of the main things I suggest to people who are new to cooking, eating healthier, working out, or living a healthier lifestyle in general is to use this technology to your advantage. I know a lot of people out there are still very weary of all this technology and that its access may just be too easy and even unhealthy and habit-forming. My opinion is that the world is changing whether we want it to or not and it is up to us to use these changes in positive ways. With smartphones containing access to a bazillion different apps, it can sometimes be hard to find the good ones. This is where I come in!

The first app I am going to suggest here on my blog is the Fooducate app. This was one of the first apps I ever downloaded when I first entered the world of smartphones. Fooducate is available for iOS and Android and, the best part, it's FREE! 

How Fooducate Got Started

Fooducate was developed by Hemi Weingarten a few years back. As a father of three babies he tried his best to buy and make healthy foods for his children but soon came to realize how difficult that can be when your babies grow into toddlers and start becoming more picky. With so many products out there claiming to be healthy, even as a high tech executive with a graduate degree under his belt, Hemi found it extremely confusing and difficult to make the simplest decision as what groceries to put in his cart. (So if you're new to eating healthy and feel overwhelmed at times, it's not just you!)

He started asking himself questions such as, "Do my kids really need to drink juice?", "What are nitrates?", "Should we avoid all food colorings?", "Which pasta sauce is more nutritious?", and "How much sugar is too much in a breakfast cereal?" He became overwhelmed and just plain confused. So he decided to do something about it. Fast forward through a lot of education, books, web research, and articles about the modern food system, nutrition, and food preparation to his invention of the Fooducate app!

About Fooducate

Fooducate is a personal grocery advisor. It's literally like having a nutritional expert right in your phone at all times. Fooducate is NOT funded by any food, drug, diet, or supplement industries so you know you are getting the most factual and honestly detailed information there is about each product.

Home Page within the Fooducate app.

Within the app, you can browse ingredients within their HUGE database or, and this is my personal preference, simply use the scan button to scan the barcodes on the packaging of food items and all the information about that item will pop right up. Fooducate grades every item on an A through D scale, (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, and D). Fooducate’s algorithm is based on information that is publicly available on a product’s package: the nutrition facts panel and the ingredient list. They do not receive any additional information from manufacturers. The algorithm rewards minimally processed, nutrient dense foods with the highest grades. This means that real foods, with intrinsic (meaning "natural" or "true") nutrients will score better than processed foods that are poor in built-in nutrients and use fortification as a means to appear healthy.

Fooducate's easy-to-understand grading system.
Who knew that Gatorade was so unhealthy?!!!

For a more in-depth explanation of how Fooducate calculates it's grade based on a product's nutrients, ingredients, category (such as "breakfast cereal", "yogurt", "bread", etc.), processing, and fortification, click here.

Browse through the enormous food database.
As I grocery shop, Fooducate is one of the apps I have open and ready. When I go to select the item I need, I take my time and look through the options available to me on the shelf. Before I choose which product I am going to buy, I scan it to see what kind of information comes up. I cannot tell you how many times I have put a product back on the shelf and opted for a different brand because of the details that popped up after scanning!

Other Options Available Through Fooducate

You can also track your meals and beverages throughout the day, as well as any physical activities. It will calculate the total calories you have ingested and/or burned for the day giving you a better insight and handle on your calorie intake. This option is very similar to the My Fitness Pal app, if that is something you are already familiar with (a future blog post).

Fooducate's Health Tracker calculates your daily caloric intake
 as you enter in your meals, beverages, and physical activity throughout the day.

I have found the daily tips to be extremely
 informative and well backed-up with facts.
Fooducate also publishes daily tips within the app which include nutrition fact labels, hard to pronounce ingredient names, "health claims", and other marketing tricks to watch out for at the supermarket. They also discuss current events as well as public health policy.                                                                                                               They also offer contests and giveaways within the app by doing something as simple as scanning products. And, usually, the more of that product you scan, the more chances you have to win.

For a reasonably low price,
 get access to even more detailed
 information and personalized meal plans.
Within the free Fooducate app, they do give you the option to pay a fee for access to premium features such as: personalized nutritional info specifically directed toward diet or health specifications you may have; more tracking and deeper insights into the nutrients you're taking in as well as tracking changes in your body such as measurements, blood pressure, and cholesterol; a weekly email with practical advice such as how to choose a healthy cereal, DIY salad dressings, and choosing bread at the grocery store; GMO information; no advertisements (though the advertisements on the free version really aren't that bad); and access to a support team. However, the free version allows you access to the scanning function and, in my opinion, that is the absolute best feature and the main reason why I have this app on my phone.

Download the Fooducate app in iTunes or Google Play.

{Information and research within this post was attained through:, and}

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