How to choose a diet and weight loss app that’s right for you, according to a nutritionist – Business Insider – Business Insider

Posted: November 20, 2020 at 11:52 am

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Let's face it, when life hits a few bumps in the road, so, too, do our diets and food habits. As the work from home lifestyle continues to be the new normal, everyone's getting used to spending an inordinate amount of time confined to their homes and home offices. There are shifts in work production, alterations of one's sleep and exercise habits, and drastic changes to what, when, and how food is consumed.

For most people, this can lead to a change in eating habits and schedules that are less healthy than they're typically accustomed to, making it challenging to stay focused on their health and fitness goals. Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent resources a mere smartphone app away designed to help you stay on track no matter how difficult it might seem.

Both Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store offer plenty of apps that promote healthy eating and diet habits. But wading through the choices can be both difficult and time-consuming, as even the best apps aren't always right for everyone.

To help sort through what's available, we turned to Samantha Cassetty, an MS, RD, and national nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City, for a bit of advice and her thoughts were especially insightful.

"There are many free and paid apps to help you learn how to eat more healthfully," Cassetty told Insider. "The most important thing is to find one that supports a variety of healthful foods in balanced amounts that are right for your needs."

Using a smartphone to track your diet isn't a new idea as some of the earliest apps on Apple's App Store were aimed at helping iPhone users eat healthier. After all, it's likely you carry a mobile device with you everywhere, making it ideal for providing insights and advice on what you should buy at the grocery store or order at a restaurant.

Some of the apps that are available even create extensive meal plans, provide diet and exercise routines, or offer consultations from dietitians and nutritionists. Others simply track what you eat in order to raise awareness of the calories you're taking in. Cassetty says there are benefits to both and that even basic food trackers are valuable.

"Free tools allow you to track your food intake, which is a form of self-monitoring that's been found helpful for reaching or maintaining a comfortable weight," she said. "They can also expose when you might be grazing or over-snacking, which happens when you're spending more time working at home with a stocked kitchen."

While Cassetty does find plenty of value in the use of smartphone apps to track dietary intake, she also urges caution, saying that "unless you're getting the tools and information you need to make lasting changes, it's unlikely you'll be able to maintain any weight you've lost."

She recommends working on developing an understanding of how to balance meals so they fill you up while tasting great at the same time. She also stresses the importance of developing healthier coping strategies rather than turning to food when we're bored, stressed, anxious, depressed, or even happy.

"Rather than focus on a goal weight, I think a better way to go is to focus on small steps you can take to create healthier habits," Cassetty said. "Examples include, limiting soda, upping your veggie intake at lunch and dinner, cooking an extra meal or two, drinking more water, and aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep each night."

Those are words of wisdom, no doubt, but Cassetty also expressed the importance of cutting ourselves some slack when things get especially stressful and difficult.

"I think it's important to be flexible and compassionate with yourself during these challenging times," she added. "You may not be able to eat as well as you'd like or maintain your healthy routines, and that's alright. As long as you're putting in some effort versus none at all it's a step in the right direction."

Updated on 11/17/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the sections on how to find the right weight loss app and why you shouldn't rely entirely on an app to change your diet, checked the availability and links of each recommended app, and updated the prices where necessary.

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November 20th, 2020 at 11:52 am

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