Top 6 Free Healthy Eating Apps for Canadians
(HealthCastle.com) Have you ever noticed that some smartphone apps (especially free ones!) don’t seem to work that well for Canadians? Apps that involve scanning barcodes in particular can be a challenge, since some have seriously underdeveloped databases of Canadian brands. Or maybe you’ve experienced the frustration of reading about a great app, only to discover it’s only available in the American app store.
We’ve dealt with those frustrations, too! That’s why we’ve put together a list of our favourite apps that are actually available for free in the Canadian app store and work well for Canadians shopping at Canadian stores. Some of them were even developed specifically for Canada! (Take that, U.S. app store!)
Top 6 Free Healthy Eating Apps for Canadians
Best Recipe App: AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner
If you have trouble convincing yourself to cook at home, this app could be the kick-start you need. You can scan any food item with a barcode and search for recipes using that item – a great way to use up items that have been lingering in your kitchen. For produce or other foods without a barcode, you can type and search. If you’re completely lacking ideas, you can also just shake your phone to get a random recipe (hence the app’s name). This app will create a grocery shopping list for you to take to the store, and allows you to search specifically for gluten-free or vegetarian recipes.
Best Calorie Tracker App: Lose-It
We’ve tested Lose-It in our Vancouver-based kitchen and had no problem with the database not recognizing items for sale in Canada. This app allows you to set food and exercise goals and track what you consume and burn throughout the day. You’ll be surprised how much less tempting that afternoon bag of chips seems when it takes only a second to scan it and add it to your daily calorie budget. In addition to calories, you can track your consumption of sodium, fat, fibre, and more. Not sure what you should enter as your daily calorie goal? You can get a personalized calorie requirement count at our own Calories Calculator.
Best Supplement Minder App: My DS
Yes, this app was created by the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, but it’s a useful tool for Canadians, too. It allows you to build a profile that tracks all of your dietary supplements so you have the list on hand to share with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional to ensure your dietary supplements will not interfere with any treatment they may have in mind. You can create multiple profiles, so you can easily track all of your family members' supplements in one app. This is an especially useful tool for adult children who are helping to manage their parents' nutrition and health care.
Best Fresh-Food Saver App: Consume Within
One of the main reasons we eat so much packaged food is that it's just so easy to buy, store, and pull out of the freezer or the package when we want to eat. But there's no denying that foods that last forever tends to be a little lacking in the nutrition department. To solve the problem of fresh foods going bad, Consume Within allows you to keep track of the foods you add to your fridge, cupboard, and freezer, then makes sure you know how long you have to consume them before they start to go bad (hence the name of the app!). You can scan labels for products that have bar codes, but for unlabelled items (like produce) or if you don't have a camera on your device, you can enter items manually as well. With a simple tracker like this, you have no excuse for not buying food with an expiry date, and making sure you actually eat it!
Best Packaged Food Analysis App: CarrotLines
CarrotLines is a Canadian app, specifically designed for Canadian products! You can use it to scan items at the store or in your pantry and get nutrition information, including specialized information on allergens like peanuts and gluten, and confirmation of whether an item is vegetarian, vegan, or kosher, as well as more basic information like whether the item is high in protein, sodium, sugar, fibre, and so on. You can also learn whether an item is organic, and even where it comes from. CarrotLines does not allow you to type products in, so you need a phone or iPod with a camera. You can even attend a live demo of the CarrotLines app at a store in Vancouver. Check out their demos and events on their blog.
Best Canadian Nostalgia App: Body Break
If you grew up in Canada in the 1980s or ‘90s, you remember Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod of Body Break. Now they’ve got a free Body Break app featuring nutritious recipes and custom shopping lists. The recipe database may not be as extensive as the AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner, but all Body Break recipes are designed to be nutritious and healthy, and they all come with that kick of nostalgia for your youth!
The Bottom Line
American-focused apps sometimes offer a disappointing experience for Canadian users. We’ve picked these six apps for their availability in the Canadian app store and their functionality in a Canadian context. You use your smartphone to keep your whole life on track – why not use it to keep your nutritional goals on track, too? Since these apps are all free, there’s absolutely nothing to lose.