Tracking what you eat and drink. It’s certainly the right thing to do if you have conditions like diabetes, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive system concerns. But you might say to yourself, “I can’t keep all the do’s and don’ts in my head; I need an easy way to access information so that I make good choices.”
Oh, don’t worry. There’s an app for that. Or there’s a good chance that a smartphone application is in development for your particular health concern.
Mobile apps for the iPhone and Android are moving beyond calorie counters and exercise logs into more specialized purposes. For instance, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the group working to ban or restrict food additives such as caramel coloring, sodium nitrites and dyes, has created an app based on its popular “Chemical Cuisine” glossary. According to an April 11, 2011, news release, the app lets you search for specific additives and learn their pros and cons “from the convenience of your mobile device.”
And then there’s the new food pyramid -- actually, a plate design where the emphasis is on increasing the fruits and vegetables in your diet. The USDA has created interactive tools to encourage using the plate idea, including “MyFoodapedia” and “Food Tracker.” Although the tools are not described as phone apps, they are easy to access from a smartphone by going to www.choosemyplate.gov.
A quick look at the Healthcare & Fitness section of the iTunes and Mac app stores for iPhones and iPads reveals a number of attractive options for health-conscious people, although you will have to be careful that a certain app is what you are looking for. Some apps are free, but most cost a few dollars to upload. Options include “Eight Glasses a Day,” which tracks water consumption, “Glucose Buddy” for those with diabetes, and “iTriage” for help with diagnosing symptoms and finding medical facilities. A free app called “Have2P” helps you find public restrooms. And there are literally dozens of apps to choose from in the areas of weight loss, exercise and stress reduction.
One apps store that many inflammatory bowel disease patients are aware of is WellApps.com. One of its popular apps is “GI Monitor,” which helps track meals, medications, stress, bowel movements and incidences of pain.
Available from the iTunes store is “IBS Symptom Tracker” for those concerned about irritable bowel syndrome; it has a bowel movement assessment tool that can help you communicate your symptoms to your doctor.
With a little bit of patience while shopping in the iPhone and Android app stores, you might find the right mobile software to help you plan your meals and activities in accordance with guidelines from your health care practitioner.
Reviewed June 13, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton
Deborah Ross writes about health, education, the arts and Arizona travel from her home in Phoenix.