It’s easy to assume that healthy eating apps start and end with calorie trackers, but that’s just one of the many ways in which smartphones can help you eat well. You can use apps to find healthy meals when you’re out and about, or hunt down restaurants that serve food that caters to any intolerances and allergies you have, and there are even apps that give you access to a nutrition expert who creates a diet plan for you and remains on hand to provide advice whenever you need it.
Then there are the thousands of recipe apps out there, many of which are focused on teaching you to cook simple, healthy food yourself, or help you narrow down the abundance of options out there to fit your tastes.
And yes, there are the calorie counting apps too, some so sophisticated that you just have to scan barcodes on the food you’re eating and all your daily macros will be totted up instantly.
Here are the healthy eating apps no smartphone should be without.
Calorie Counter And Diet Tracker By MyFitnessPal
There are plenty of calorie-tracking apps out there, but MyFitnessPal is the most popular for a reason. Its database is colossal, containing over five million foods, meaning the frustration of being unable to log the exact item you’ve eaten is a rare event, rather than the norm. It’s also very quick to use and remembers your favourite foods, so every meal isn’t finished with five minutes of clicking. Free, pro £7.99 monthly, App Store and Google Play, myfitnesspal.com
We’ll come clean from the off: this AXA Health Tech & You award winner isn’t an app, but the web-based meal planner (you’ve got a browser on your phone, yeah?) is clever enough that we’ll bend the rules just this once. The free version searches recipes on the web that fit the criteria you select and it can get really quite specific, including diet types along the lines of vegan and gluten-free, your budget, macro splits, preferred cuisines and even excluding ingredients you dislike. You can then review the recipes the service spits out, swap dinners out if you like, and then generate a shopping list that takes into account what you’ve already got in your cupboards. And then, if you want, it’ll put those items into an online Tesco shopping basket for you to check out at your convenience. Phew, that’s pretty comprehensive. If you cook regularly, or want to, it’s well worth a try. getmealiq.com
Even if you have absolutely zero dietary restrictions it takes some planning to make sure you’re eating all the nutrients that your body requires, so it’s vital that you pay even closer attention if you make the decision to go vegan – whether that’s just for Veganuary or for good. The Vegan Society has created the VNutrition app to help people get from plant-based food what that they would previously have consumed by eating animal products. The advice is from a registered dietitian so it’s trustworthy, and there’s a simple checklist in the app to help you track how close you are to hitting your daily nutritional targets. Free, App Store and Google Play, vegansociety.com
It’s not always easy to find healthy meals when you’re out and about, and if you have specific dietary requirements it can be even tricker to find places that cater to your needs. The Nutrifix app aims to make finding healthy and/or free-from food easy. You build your profile on the app of your nutritional needs and then it finds eateries in your locale that fit the bill. And if you’re feeling especially lazy or have no time to step outside, you can get those meals delivered to you through Nutrifix’s partnership with Deliveroo. Free, App Store, nutrifix.co
Change4Life Food Scanner
If allergies and intolerances plague your mealtimes, Kafoodle lets you set the ingredients you can’t eat, then brings up a list of restaurants and tells you which items are safe. Free, App Store and Google Play, kafoodle.com
A simple traffic light system helps you track what you’re eating, while support comes from the small group of “Noomers” you’re joined with in your dietary quest. Free, pro £7.99 monthly, £14.99 for three months, £39.99 annually, App Store and Google Play, noom.com
This app encourages small, simple changes to your diet by delivering reminders to help build healthy habits like drinking a glass of water each lunchtime, or eating a doctor-repelling apple a day. Free, App Store and Google Play, dietssuck.org
Put your cash on the line by betting on your weight loss. DietBet lets you buy into a pot with thousands of other users, and those that hit their slimming target share the proceeds. Free, App Store and Google Play, dietbet.com
We can all agree that it shouldn’t take the possible death of a cute virtual plant to make an adult human drink enough water every day, but let’s skip over that and focus on the cute plant. Look how cute it is! Do you want it to die? Of course you don’t! So drink your water and log it in the app. You and your new plant pal will both be better off. Free, App Store and Google Play