Can Using This App a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

Analyzing eating trends rather than calorie counting may be the key to staying fit. A new app, The Eatery, will do the math part for you.

Wisdom about healthy eating has always been crowdsourced, even before the days of social media and memes. Take the adage "An an apple a day keeps the doctor away," believed to have originated in 19th-century Wales before going word-of-mouth viral to reach the ears of generations of children. While today's technology makes it easier to spread that sort of nutritional advice, a similar idea is encoded in new smartphone apps like The Eatery: Other people are often better at telling us what to eat.

The Eatery posits itself as an alternative to calorie- or carb-counting. "Instead of obsessing over uselessly detailed nutrition numbers," the app's promotional video says, "what matters is how you're eating overall." The Eatery encourages users to document a snack or meal with a photo and rating of its perceived healthfulness. Using data like the time of day and frequency of consumption, the program plots an eater's trends to discover a person's "silent habits" and help them improve. For example, discovering that you tend to pig out at lunch when you don't eat breakfast may help people rethink their hasty morning routines.

The crowdsourced piece comes into play by letting users offer feedback on each other's meals to provide a more objective look at a meal and keep friends on top of goals. Did you describe your lunch as healthy because it was a salad? Another user's observation of your copious ranch dressing and bacon bits will provide some much needed real talk.

The Eatery is the first experimental app of the website Massive Health, which looks at design as a tool to overhaul the way we think about our bodies and our health—and ultimately, help solve our health care crisis. Massive Health's website points out that our bodies can be faulty systems in many ways: "You don’t get thirsty until you are already dehydrated. You might forget to finish your antibiotics because you already feel better… We create the tight feedback loops your body is missing to keep you healthy." The Eatery is first of (we hope) many health experiments to come.


via CoDesign; Image courtesy of Massive Health

via David Leavitt / Twitter

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