Keeping track of what you eat can help you make better choices, because you know that whatever you choose, you’ll have to write it down. But that doesn’t mean you need to obsess over every calorie or ask an app to run weight loss calculations. If you just want to look for big-picture patterns in your diet, YouAte (free on iOS and Android) is a low key way to do just that.
To log a meal on YouAte, you just take a photo of it, and decide whether it was an “on path” or “off path” meal. You get to define what that means. If you’re trying to eat more vegetables and lean proteins, but you were stuck with office pizza for lunch today, maybe it’s an off path meal. No judgment. (At the end of the week, YouAte will tell you what percentage of your meals were on path.)
After you eat, you can answer the questions the app poses:
- Why did you eat? (some of the choices are “Hungry,” “It was time,” “Social,” and “Cravings.” You can select more than one.)
- Who did you eat with? (friends, family, etc)
- How was it? (forgettable, good, awesome)
- Where did you eat? (at a table, right? Fortunately they have options for “Work desk,” “car,” “TV,” and more)
- How was it made? (Homemade, restaurant, etc)
- How did it make you feel? (Satisfied, still hungry, stuffed, guilty…)
As I logged a few meals with the app, I didn’t find the questions too judgmental or intrusive, but that’s a personal opinion. They just made me think: oh yeah, I guess I am eating at my desk again. Answering how it made me feel was a new idea, too: rather than realizing later that I’m still hungry, I think about it before I leave the table (er, desk). Pro tip: turn on the setting that notifies you 20 minutes after you log a meal to come back and answer these questions.
This is not an app to help you precisely track nutrients or weight loss. It has no idea what’s in the meals you photograph; that’s up to you. You could log your meals in this app and a more precise app like Cron-o-meter, but then you’re doing twice the work. It could be worthwhile for managing the psychological aspects of an eating plan, though, if you’re willing to spend the few extra minutes.