There is a lot of conflicting information out there about diet, but if there’s one consensus it’s that self-control matters.
If you’re the kind of geek who loves reading about how to get things done, you know that it’s easy to get lost in the planning stage: researching to-do list apps, reading about optimizations, tweaking software. It can all help, but it can also distract you from what needs doing.
Diet is similar: it’s really easy to get lost in books and apps without ever creating an actionable plan. With this in mind, here are five apps we think might help you stop thinking about improving your diet and start actually doing it. Let’s get started.
7 Second Diet (iOS): Dead Simple Tracking For Diet and Exercise
Far too many diet apps and programs bog you down in numbers, charts, and other abstractions. Keeping track of calories can be really helpful, but you’ll never get anywhere if the thought of doing that stops you from even trying in the first place.
7 Second Diet is an iPhone app that tries to help with this. Every meal, you quickly record whether it’s healthy or not by choosing between “Good”, “Meh”, or “Bad”. That’s it.
Most of the time you know when a meal is bad for you, and you know when it’s good for you. Overall the goal needs to be to eat fewer meals that are bad. If nothing else, this app serves as a reminder of that fact. For $5 you can unlock your complete history, helping to keep track of your history so you can see if you’re doing better.
This approach reminds me of the don’t break the chain style of productivity, where you simply try to develop a habit. Give it a shot if you’re not
DietBet (Android, iOS): Eat Better or Pay Up
Put your money where your mouth is. If you can’t muster up internal motivation to lose weight, Diet Bet gives you external motivation. You’ll join “games” of people trying to lose a percentage of their current weight – meet the target, and you get a cash prize. Miss the target, and your money is gone.
The money is part of the appeal, but maybe even more important is the social aspect: you’re committing to a goal with a bunch of other people, meaning you know that you’re not alone in what you’re trying to do. And even if you don’t care about the money, winning feels good, right?
This site can be combined with any of the other apps here, and can give you just a little bit more motivation to follow through on your goals.
Eat This Much (Web): Simple Diet Assistant That Crunches Numbers for You
If you already have a diet set up, you still might struggle to find decent meals that fit it. Eat This Much is a web app you can use for that. Just head to the site, say how many calories you’d like to limit yourself to over a number of meals, and you’ll get a few recipes. You’ll end up with a meal plan.
Sign up for an account, however, and you’ll get access to all sorts of other features, from calorie tracking to shopping list management. If you want an all-encompassing approach, dive in and see if it helps you.
The Flexible Diet (Web): Another Way to Think About Food
Want another perspective? This site is worth a quick read, and offers some tools to experiment with too. The idea is that there’s no such thing as “clean” or “junk” foods – just foods made up of particular macronutrients.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll get access to a tool for calculating your daily body expenditure, which you’ll use to determine how many calories you need. Fill everything in and you’ll learn about the systems for setting and keeping goals.
Diet Point (Android, iOS): Plan Healthier Meals
Still looking for a diet plan that works? Diet Point is a single smartphone app that gives you access to 130 different plans. Pick one, and a combination of meal plans, notifications and shopping lists will help you stay on target.
Jumping between diets regularly probably isn’t going to help you much, so have an idea of your goals before diving into an app like this. But once you’ve got that worked out, Diet Point could help you quite a bit.
What Are Your Dieting Tips?
A lot has been written about diet, and I won’t claim to be an expert. Personally, though, I’m a fan of author Michael Pollan’s simple advice:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
But reasonable people can disagree. What are your diet tips, and are there any apps out there that help you stick to them? Let’s talk in the comments below.