5 Tips for Using the Fooducate App as a Health Professional

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This is a guest blog post by  Melissa Halas-Liang, MA RD CDE

Mobile apps are all the rage these days. And Fooducate, available for iPhone and Android, is becoming the go to app for many people interested in eating more healthfully. Registered dietitians can incorporate apps into their consultations and as an extension for when clients are at the supermarket contemplating what to buy. Here are five ways Fooducate can help your clients.

1)    Be prepared to open your eyes and expand your mind –Food staples that you may have thought to be healthy may not be so wonderful after all. For example, Trader Joe’s Salsa, a product we buy often received a low rating. Why? Because it was low in vitamin C, which is unusual since tomatoes are typically high in Vitamin C. You might ask, what makes it so low?  Well, there are a number of possibilities, including poor soil quality.  I’ve read about the possibility of fungicides in the soil, which lower the vitamin quality of the tomatoes. If this were the case, it would have been enough of a reason for me to switch salsa brands.  Our family typically buys organic or local tomatoes in an effort to avoid ones grown in regions where the weather is not conducive to tomato production and/or fungicides are used. The result of our discovery – switching to organic salsa or choosing one of the alternative options Fooducate recommends

2)    Narrow down food selections before you begin to scan within a food category: It helps to know some basic facts about the foods you are interested in purchasing before scanning.  For example, why even start scanning crackers before you’ve eliminated the ones that have added sugar. You want to avoid crackers that have sugar because you are likely to eat more of them.  When scanning cereals, narrow your options down to those with less than 6 grams of sugar per serving. When choosing pasta brands, scan 100% whole grain brands first. Offering some basic guidelines such as these to a client who you’ve recommended the fooducate app to will help them avoid scanning too many options.

3)    Consider what’s best for you or your client when two options receive high scores. A pasta brand like Dream Field that contains enriched semolina may get an A- because it has 5 grams fiber per serving, whereas a brand like Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta that is 100% whole grain my also get an A-.  Although they both rate high with Fooducate, always choose the option that has the most whole grain if your client enjoys the taste of whole grains.

4)    Read on, there’s more than just the letter grade! Be sure to scroll down the page to view product details, as you may find out some interesting facts about the foods you love. For example, all Trader Joe’s branded products are non-genetically modified.  You can educate yourself on the variety of names of sugar alcohols, or share tips with your clients, like cooking pasta “al dente” to lower the glycemic index of your meal, or checking ingredient features noted to make sure a food doesn’t have sulfates.

5)    Remind yourself and your client that B-rated foods are okay for every day Lightly salted Lundberg Organic Brown rice cakes are healthy yet get a B rating. These cakes can be an excellent substitute for bread. They are tasty and convenient, (no toasting involved) and are perfect when topped with heirloom tomatoes, avocado, hummus and fresh basil for a quick and healthy lunch.  Unless the rating was lower than a B-, don’t second guess your intuition.  Use Fooducate in conjunction with your food knowledge to guide your clients in making healthier choices.

Melissa Halas LiangMelissa Halas-Liang, MA, RD, CDE, is a nationally recognized nutrition educator and wellness expert and founder of superkidsnutrition.com. She teaches nutrition through www.nutritioned.net and serves as spokesperson for the California Dietetic Association. Follow Melissa on facebook or twitter: @fitnutrition

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  • John O’Connor

    My name is John and I have a quick question about your blog! Could you please email me?
    Thank you,

  • Caty

    Isn’t it low in vit. C because vit. C is a quite unstable compound that doesn’t survive the canning process? Most brands that are higher in it probably have it listed in the ingredients panel. An added vitamin doesn’t make it any better, and a well balanced diet should include plenty of fruit and vegetables.. negating the need for vitamin fortified salsa.

  • blackroseml

    I don’t see much of a use for the rating system. In general, I regard the foods that are worthy of my daily budget of calories contains a decent amount of protein and/or fiber for their calorie content. Protein and fiber content are the primary characteristics, while secondary characteristics include a lack of artificial ingredients, saturated fats, and sodium, and the presence of vitamins, minerals and good fats. (I don’t follow a low carb diet, but I aim for a low glycemic load for every mean, and fiber content is inversely correlated with glycemic index)

  • Bonnie Modugno, MS, RD

    I must say that apps like this give me pause. There is such a thing as too much information.

    This type of rating system is another shade of good food, bad food thinking. The body doesn’t react to each individual food, but responds to the overall diet. I’m not sure the body needs us to eat the best, the most, or the greatest source of any one nutrient preferentially on a daily basis.

    Preoccupation with individual foods distracts from one’s overall approach to food. Instead of having people preoccupied by every food they eat, i would rather people focus on the balance of food at each meal and how that food either works for them or not.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Fooducate

      Hi Bonnie, not arguing with your points, but please try the app and then tell us what you think. We designed it help people make real life decisions at the supermarket. When a mom is standing in the cereal aisle, she needs a trusted resource to warn her about the sugar content in Honey Nut Cheerios, or the artificial colors in Froot Loops. If she doesn’t have her dietitian with her, she will have to trust the misleading marketing pitch on the package. Fooducate solves that problem. And provides detailed info on what the pros and cons are.

      • blackroseml

        I don’t eat most cereal except for the regular Kashi since it has a high amount of fiber and protein for its calorie content, Most cereals have too little protein and fiber, and they most serve to stress the pancreas due to an influx of sugar without providing for other nutrients, although enriched flour is fortified with some vitamins and minerals.

        The nutrition labels are mostly accurate since it contains the necessary information to judge whether a product is “healthy”, and if one can interpret them correctly, they cannot be deceived with marketing slogans such as “made with real fruit”.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=725525204 Jim Cooper

    Since there is no evidence that GM foods are harmful (and substantial evidence that they are not) you can eliminate that issue in choosing. And, in fact, there is no evidence that organic produce is in any way healthier either.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Fooducate

      There is no evidence that GM Foods are safe over the long term either. The facts that tests have not been conducted, does not imply safety. There are many reasons to choose organic aside from healthy yes/no – including sustainability, better tasting products, and better pay for farmers.

      • Wendy

        Food snobbery is the only reason to choose organic. Your obsessive overcautious alarmist viewpoint against GMO indelibly marks you as a petty quack, a hustling charlatan. Go fooducate yourself.

      • Emily

        A very nice example of the arbitrary way in which fooducate “rates” products. All emotion, no substance. That makes fooducate the Jerry Springer of foodie logic. A waste of bandwidth.

  • Wendy

    No competent nutrition professional could find any legitimate use for your silly app. It is nothing more than a collection of opinionated misinformation. Quackery if you were professional, merely another pop science marketing ploy since you are just a cheesy salesperson. Go fooducate yourself.

  • Emily

    What health professional in their right mind would use a worthless opinionated app like this? Only a quack will take some questionable test result for vitamin C, state it is due to tomatoes being grown on poor soil and rail at pesticide use as the cause. Seriously, this person should be locked up for defrauding the public. And fooducate should be called on the carpet for aiding and abetting preposterous foodie nonsense. When fooducate “rates” a product it is only a sales pitch, a slick slimy sales scam. This blog showcases everything that is wrong and dangerous about the commercial foodie movement. It used to be aluminum siding salesmen you had to worry about, now it’s foodies looking to scam you and your grandma. Sick greedy bastards.

  • phil

    wHa is fooducate pro