This is what the prix fixe lunch at Bouley looks like in my calorie counting app (by lizstless)

And therein lies the problem with calorie counting and today’s version of technology used to track calories.

So here’s a solution. Design an interface that doesn’t focus on 100% accuracy, but instead shoots for 90% accuracy. A 2000-calorie diet with +/- 10% accuracy is good enough. All of these tracking technologies should focus on “good enough” not detailed accuracy.

Agreed, absolutely. But by the same token, before I started using the app, I was consuming something like 4,000 – 5,000 calories a day in food and booze. It was SHOCKING. Whenever most of my healthy friends see me counting, they do on about how it’s not accurate, people under report, etc., and I’m like “I may be underreporting, but I’m still consuming something like 2,000 calories less a day.” By and large, though, the app is pretty solid. I really didn’t have any difficulty until the day I went to “Fancy” restaurants – I hit Walter Foods later that night, and it was just as difficult to enter their food. Something like 20 items for one dish! (though not very many calories, amazingly). While I doubt I’m 100% accurate, even trying to count calories is super educational. You learn a lot about the foods you eat. In other news, the “recipe” feature in Lose It is pretty rad. I spend lots of time making really awesome, complex thai food recipes for the Gaprows and Curries I make. But I had a realization – I wish you could share recipes. That would be AWESOME.”

You are exactly right Rick. These “trackers” are good for pretty much only one thing– giving you the shocking truth of how many calories you consume on a typical day. Most people have no idea how many calories they consume on a daily basis. It’s surprisingly easy to consume 4000-5000 calories a day given the food that’s sold to us and the booze we can drink (remember: a typical margarita is about 800 calories). 

These tracking apps should be used to get a weeklong snapshot of your life. I challenge everyone out there to use one for just one week. Get a snapshot and use that data/knowledge to eat better and less food and, if you drink, drink lower calorie booze. Once you’ve got the snapshot, do it again every 3 or 4 months to see if you’re still on track. I’d also like to see every dish at every chain restaurant (eventually every restaurant) have a unique code that people can enter into an app that pre-populates their tracking app for them.

You’ve seen Epicurious right? The iPad app is amazing. But it’d be nice if they’d publish the nutritional and caloric content for each recipe.

And Rick…I’d do damn near anything to see you lose a good bit of weight. You’re too lovable a guy to not have around for those 82 years we’re all told we’re supposed to live.