Normally I’m pretty good about what I eat. I recognize that I have a voracious sweet tooth and have learned to just avoid anything with sugar. My nemesis in particular being cookies and ice cream. For whatever reason these two foods disable my “you’re full now” button; I’m only able to stop stuffing sweets into my pie hole when my body is forced into emergency maneuvers and engages gag reflex before I get it through my skull to stop. I learned long ago I have no willpower. I can only make like Easwaran and run as fast as I can in the other direction.
However, every now and then my uterus will demand a sacrifice to my waistline, or I’ll need emotional comfort the likes of which can only be found at the bottom of a Ben and Jerry’s carton. I find also that once I’ve “blown it” this gives me free license to eat like a big Fatty McFatterson for the rest of day, or sometimes number of days.
There are a lot of calorie counter and food diary apps out there, but as far as I can tell from the glancing google search I did, none of them do exactly what I want. First of all, it’s hard enough to keep a food diary, much less an accurate one. Not only do I have remember everything I ate that day, but I have to consider portion sizes as well? What if I forget to document a day? You can’t honestly expect me to remember anything that happened 24 hours ago.
Usually I’m told to “develop a new habit” or something equally as smug. Which I get to a degree, if I really wanted to change the way I eat, I should commit to all habits that enable me to make better choices, of which, keeping a food diary has been proven to be the most successful.
However, if a picture is worth a thousand words, and if you’re already in the habit of whipping out your phone and snapping evidence of your meal everytime you eat out, why couldn’t you build on that habit? To help develop this habit, the app could at first give you gentle reminders to take a photo of your meal before the time you normally eat. This has the added benefit of helping to create good habits like eating breakfast (which I have no idea how people skip… seriously, I’m like a reverse gremlin) or eating smaller meals more often in the day.
This is where the social aspect comes in. After you upload your photo of your meal, it’s rated by the community. Not just your friends, but anyone who decides to follow you. They will either give you a 🙂 🙁 or :/ (which apparently WP does not have an emoji for “meh”). Nothing scientific, nothing too specific, just good, bad or okay.
Most people are able to look at a meal and accurately determine if it is overall healthy, could use some improvement, or not even close. A picture of what you eat is more helpful in a lot of ways because you can see size and composition. If what you think is a serving size is actually three, the community will correct you. If you’re “chicken salad’ is actually five deep fried tenders garnished by a few bits of diced tomato and iceberg lettuce, you will mostly likely see 🙁 🙁 🙁 Ratings are accumulated for the day, averaged and added to your calendar. If you had a good day, you’ll see 🙂 for that day.
Which is what I’m looking for. Not so much the thoroughly detailed analyzation of what I put into my body, but an overall indication of how I did that day. Something simple I could quickly compare against days. When I pull up my calendar in the morning, I could feel proud of myself if the week looks like this: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 or I can mentally prepare myself for the day if yesterday was 🙁
If you wanted to take this a step further, you could pay professionals to follow you. That way you could have some assurance aside from herd mentality that what your eating is good. They could also give you tips on what to do differently to improve each meal.
Sharing this information with your friends would be encouraging. If you had a good week, your friends would congratulate you, or you them. If you have a 🙁 day, the app would notify your friends, and they can reach out and offer support. One of the most effective ways to lose weight and maintain weight loss is by using a support network. A lot of old school weight loss solutions relied on this aspect, but as far as I’ve seen, it’s missing from the latest technology. Which is ironic, considering it was the latest technology that spurred so much online social networking.
Or maybe it’s not missing, but is so complex that normal people are turned off by it. It seems like a lot of these apps are aimed at people who, if not already are crazed fitness buffs, are well on their way to becoming so. Tracking everything our body does is interesting… but tedious. Most people are interested to know they did or did not drink enough water that day. Most people are not interested in what the percentage of water they drank went to making sweat, various enzymes, or waste. Okay, I’m sure we would all check that once, but every day? Especially if it’s means having to keep very detailed records of water intake, plus wearing some device at all times to monitor your body. What is the point of knowing all that anyway? Will it make you that much healthier? Or happier?
Obviously (hopefully?) this scenario is made up, but I think most people would agree that knowing ALL of this information about your body is not going to add to the quality of your life or mental well being. If anything, it might detract from it. All I want, and what I think the average person wants is an overview. As long as I see 🙂 for that day, I know I’m headed in the right direction. That alone will make me feel better about myself and want to continue to expend the small amount of energy needed to continue going.
So there you have it. I’ve basically invented Emoji Jenny Craig–minus the meal plans, of course. EmoJenny Craig. Emoji-nny Craig? I’ll stop now.