Now that we know that food tracking apps can have an impact on health and we've explored an overview of Foodvisor, one of the most popular apps, it's time to dig into the pros and cons of this particular tool.
Overall, I found the app fairly easy to navigate. Here are a few additional pros:
- Scanning a barcode is the easiest and most accurate way to enter foods.
- Foodvisor sends reminders in the app to log food choices for meals and gives helpful motivational feedback such as “We believe in you, you’ll do better tomorrow.”
- There are a variety of recipes.
- The recipes provide nutrition information per person, preparation time, cook time, and difficulty rating along with directions and nutrition information. While most of the recipes have a green smiling face, there are some that have an orange frown rating, reinforcing the idea that all foods fit into a healthy diet in moderation.
- After logging each meal, a breakdown of the calories, protein, fat, carbohydrate and fiber amounts is provided.
- Scroll down, and you’ll find specific nutrient breakdown for that meal for vitamins and minerals as well as sugar, polyols, alcohol and water.
- Click on an individual food and "input and benefits" pops up.
- For blueberries: increases iron absorption, high sugar content, rich in Vitamin C. Full nutrient profile for the food in the amount chosen is also listed.
- For a margarita: risk of weight gain, high sugar content, contains alcohol.
- For green beans: regulates blood sugar, facilitates digestion, good for digestion.
- You can also track daily exercise and learn the number of calories burned.
- The daily assessment gives feedback “Well done, you’ve reached your goal!” as well as ‘"yes" (blueberries are good because anti-fatigue, anti-infectious, increases iron absorption) and ‘"less" (avoid margarita because contains alcohol, high sugar content, risk of weight gain).
- It also gives advice for changes to the "less" foods; in this case it listed drinks I’ve never heard of.
- The daily assessment also provides suggestions for macronutrients such as hazelnut oil, rapeseed oil, or avocado for fats. For fiber, it recommends leeks, strawberries, and cucumbers for fiber.
- There is an option to message or live chat with a registered dietitian for more personalized guidance.
Here are a Few Cons:
- Scanning a barcode is the easiest and most accurate way to enter foods –- but many of the foods I routinely eat don’t have a barcode. Fresh fruit and vegetables and chicken and seafood that I plan to cook myself required that I either take a photo of the food or type in the name of the food and then scroll through the options.
- There are a variety of recipes, but it would be easier to be able to search for recipes by ingredients vs scrolling through the options by meal.
- Adding each ingredient from one of my own recipes is time-consuming and there isn’t an option to create and save my own recipes.
- Often the optional serving sizes don’t include cups or teaspoons. I have no idea how many grams or ounces of foods like granola or ground flaxseeds I ate.
- Taking a photo of a food doesn’t always work out. The app thought the raw, cut-up celery slices was some type of processed food.
- Equating the number of minutes of exercise to a food with similar calories I feel takes away from the importance of exercise outside of burning calories. Does 30 minutes of light running really equal 4 carrots? Or 2 hours of hiking 6 servings of Coca-Cola?
- One day advice for carbs included honey; I’ve never recommended that someone add honey to their diet for the carbohydrate because it’s an added sugar. The other suggestions for whole wheat bread or dried dates makes more nutritional sense. Another day I received suggestions to increase protein by eating seitan, red mullet, or steamed sole – foods I never eat.
- Some of the nutrient advice is too simplistic. I received “high sugar content” for both fresh blueberries and a margarita when in reality there is a big difference between added sugar and naturally-occurring sugar.
By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES, CPT, CHWC
- Ferrara G, Kim J, Lin S, Hua J, Seto E. A Focused Review of Smartphone Diet-Tracking Apps: Usability, Functionality, Coherence With Behavior Change Theory, and Comparative Validity of Nutrient Intake and Energy Estimates. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2019;7(5):e9232. Published 2019 May 17. doi:10.2196/mhealth.9232
- American Psychological Association. Teaching Tip Sheet: Self-Efficacy. https://www.apa.org/pi/aids/resources/education/self-efficacy created 2009. Accessed 3-28-22
- Foodvisor. https://www.foodvisor.io/en/
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.