iPhone App Uses Crowdsourcing To Improve Your Eating Habits

A new iPhone app called The Eatery uses crowdsourcing and your phone's camera to give you a reality check on your eating habits.

With the app, you take a photo of what you're eating and use a sliding scale between "fit" and "fat" to state how healthy you think the meal is. You then toss the photo out to the community, and others weigh in on how healthy they think the meal is. Through input from a lot of other people, you can get an accurate idea of how healthy your meal actually is, and then determine if you're right on in your perceptions, or if you need to relearn what healthy looks like.

The Eatery writes, "Eat better by learning more about yourself. The Eatery will help you discover:
• Did you eat better this week than last week?
• Do you eat worse when you have a late lunch?
• Where do you eat your best and worst meals?

The downside, of course, is that you're relying on your friends and their awareness of what is healthy which may not be all that accurate. And your friends are relying on a photo of your food to make a judgement call, which may not be all that clear on what you're really chowing down on. You might snap a photo of a salad that seems healthy -- and others agree that it is indeed so -- but really it has a fat-and-sugar heavy dressing on it along with an overdose of nuts, croutons or other ingredients that bring the healthiness down. Conversely, you might snap a photo of a veggie burger and fries that looks unhealthy, but when we look at how it was prepared and with what ingredients, it's not that bad. Sometimes details are more useful than just a photo.

That said, if you're up for having each of your food choices judged by your peers, then this app could be a very interesting experiment in checking up on how you view healthy food and how you might be able to improve eating habits.

Shifting Focus to Eco-Friendly Foods
But all that isn't even the part about the app that I like the most -- what is more exciting is its potential to be used in even more helpful areas. I would love to see this modified to work for eco-friendly eating.

Tuaw reports, "As an example of what Massive Health can do with the data, they used some early results from The Eatery to compile maps of San Francisco and New York showing areas that trend more healthy or unhealthy. What good are the maps? Perhaps they'll show public health officials where in major metropolitan areas they need to focus their attention on encouraging good healthy eating habits."

This could also be done with areas that tend to serve foods sourced from local farms and ranches, that offer a wider-than-usual selection of vegetarian or organic options, or for ares that have more stores with local and organic foods.

A version of The Eatery that focuses on eco-friendly eating could not only improve one's own personal food choices for selecting local, organic or fair-trade foods, but also reveal trends in eco-friendly food options within a neighborhood or city.

The Eatery app is free for iPhone and you can start using it to make sure your eating habits are as healthy as possible. And as for feedback -- toss The Eatery a note and tell them to create another app that centers around environmentally healthy foods!

iPhone App Uses Crowdsourcing To Improve Your Eating Habits
The Eatery connects you with your friends to keep you honest about the health of your meals, and get you in to better habits.

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