Fooducate-My Favorite Nutritional App

by Jennifer Boudreau on October 24, 2013

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Fooducate MainLast week, I spoke about clean eating at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for an event called Indy Family Fest. During my presentation, I referenced a trusty little nutrition app on my smartphone called Fooducate. Afterwards, people were asking, “what’s the name of that app again?” It made me realize how much they really wanted to check it out!

I have personally found Fooducate to be a great resource when I am at the grocery store and having a hard time choosing the best, most healthy options. I most recently used this app to find the best jelly to buy for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids.

How does Fooducate work?

It is super simple…..you scan the UPC (AKA bar code) on the item and it pulls up a simple report like this.

 Fooducate Rating Cinn Toast

As you can see, the report provides a grade such as A-, C+, etc. Minimally processed foods score higher while more highly processed foods with less nutrition score lower.

There are a variety of additional tabs you can reference. One of my favorites is the “Explanations” tab. This tab simply tells you the pros and cons of the product. As an example, it may say something positive such as “Contains 12% daily fiber.” Or, it may say something negative. You can see in the example below, it may have a warning such as “Controversial additive BHT present”. You can then click on the alert and it will provide an explanation as to why you should watch out for or avoid this ingredient. In addition to warning you of controversial ingredients, this tab may also warn that a product is “highly processed” or “low fiber”.  Love, love, love this tab.

Fooducate Explan Cinn Toast

My other favorite tab is the “Alternatives” tab. If your product gets a low score, there is no need to worry. The “Alternatives” tab simply lists higher scoring alternatives so you can adjust your grocery list. Scroll down until you find a brand available at your local grocery store. I have never heard or seen some of the brands listed.

There are a few additional functions on Foodcuate that are worth mentioning. First, there is a “browse” function where you can browse a certain food family. If you are heading out the door to go shopping, you can do some research on the highest scoring foods before leaving.

Fooducate Browse

There is also an educational daily tip which can be pretty fascinating!

Pros:

–          This app is so easy to use.

–          A great starting point if you are new to eating healthier, but not familiar with label reading.

–          If you have been eating cleaner for a long time, this app may point out ingredients or issues you had never considered.

–          Provides great education. You can get up to speed on poor ingredients pretty quickly by reading the “explanations” tab.

 Cons: 

–          To find out if a product contains GMOs (genetically modified organism), you have to upgrade to “Fooducate+ Healthy Food Diet” for $4.99. Note-if the product does contain GMOs, it does not appear to lower the grade.

–          The allergen friendly version, including gluten, requires an upgrade to “Fooducate-Gluten & Allergies” for $9.99.

–          Many generic store brands (ex. Meijer Organics, Kroger Simple Truth Organics) are not listed.

I do not find these cons to be a big deal because I feel the free version is incredibly helpful without the upgrades. Plus, when it comes to GMOs, I have found that companies are very proud if they don’t use GMOs, so they often label the product as being “non-GMO”. You also know a product is non-GMO if it’s certified organic. If you’re still concerned, pay the $5 and upgrade to the GMO version. If you do upgrade to this version, you can adjust your account to assist you in eating a vegetarian, vegan or a heart healthy diet.

I would certainly encourage the allergen upgrade if you are new to shopping for a particular allergy. $10 is worth it to help take the pain out of shopping. Trust me, when we first started shopping gluten and dairy free for our daughter, I would have LOVED this app on my phone!

In summary, I would encourage anyone to download the Fooducate app! It is helpful and free….and it will only educate you on what is in your food!

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