Tracking your eating habits using the app diet

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Dieting is nothing new and has been carried out across the world for decades, but today, a new form of dieting is catching on.

With the increased usage of smart phones and their applications, developers have come up with apps to monitor your diet. Many of the apps available won't cost you a dime, while some will put you out nearly $30.

"Don't spend any money until you've tried the free ones because the free ones are very good," said Live Well Carolinas Dietician Lauren Hatcher.

Diet apps exist for iPhones, Android-based phones, Blackberries and other smart phones. One free iPhone app called "Lose it" helped Elanor Stevens on her diet.

"I just thought it would get me back on track," Stevens said.

Each app works in similar ways by asking users to enter some basic personal information like his starting weight, a weight loss goal. Then, each time the user eats something, he enters it into the app.

Katie Goodnight is already on Weight Watchers so she downloaded that free app for her diet.

"I've never downloaded it before but I figure it was going to get me in gear," Goodnight said.

Rebecca Becker chose "Sparkpeople" for her Droid because she has used it before.

"I trust this one because I'm with the program right now."

Experts say that if users log their food and do it six to seven days a week, they can lose twice as much weight, when combining with exercise.

Those using the diet apps provided some feedback on what works and doesn't work with the apps.

"If you want to use these really effectively you have to spend a little time figuring out how big your servings are," Hatcher said.

Underestimating your serving size, Hatcher says, will throw your calorie count off completely.

In just one week, the above women all lost over 1 pound. Goodnight lost a little more weight with the Weight Watchers App. She lost more than 2 pounds.

One of the issues the women had with the apps was that they were too time consuming. Another problem reported was that the apps don't have every restaurant listed in the database, just the big chain restaurants.

The women said it doesn't feel like a diet - it's more a reality check.

All four say they'll continue - though maybe with different apps.

Many who have tried dieting by app, say it doesn't feel like a diet, but more like a reality check. Carrying the diet with them in their phone helps provide a constant reminder to eat healthier.

Those that tried the app for this survey said they will continue to use the app diet, but may shop around for different diet apps.

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