What do people want from health tracking apps?

25th May 2017
Health Apps survey results

We love learning more about the health apps market. Health, fitness, weight loss and nutrition are hot topics, and we’re keen to know what people find most helpful when it comes to improving eating habits in particular.

We carried out a short survey among those who are less familiar with Cook&Count but who have an interest in health and fitness. Some interesting insights have emerged from the results that we’d like to share.


1. Accuracy is key

When asked what would improve tracking apps used, the top response was more accurate data. Over half of those surveyed said that increased accuracy was important to them. This was followed by integration with wearables, increased nutritional information and healthy living advice.

It’s great to hear that people want as much accurate information and advice as they can get! The nutritional information for ingredients in Cook&Count is sourced from government databases and we pride ourselves on not using often inaccurate crowd-sourced data.



Improve


2. Trusted advice doesn’t just come from the doctor

Nutrition websites, blogs and social media are just as popular for healthy eating advice as speaking to healthcare professionals. A sign of the technological age, people are relying more and more on a wider range of information sourced from all over the web.

We just need to make sure that this information is as accurate and reliable as possible. At Cook&Count we work with trusted healthcare professionals to make sure the information we provide comes from true expert sources.



Advice


3. Digital recipes are the future

As expected, the internet has far overtaken books as a source of recipes. 89% of those who filled out the survey said they source recipes from the internet, while 57% say they use recipe books. One third of respondents get recipes from friends and family, but fewer use or are familiar with recipe sharing apps.



Recipes


4. It’s all about personalisation

People love to adapt recipes to suit their tastes. Our favourite finding – a huge 92% of people said they like to adapt recipes either for taste or health reasons. This is just what we want to hear! Cooking should be an enjoyable and experimental process. Whatever restrictions you may have on what you eat, adapting recipes allows you to still enjoy variations of all your favourites. Find ways to cut out some carbs or calories, or up your protein intake.



Adapt



In summary, people want accuracy, variety, availability and adaptability. It’s all about accessing the right nutritional information and advice, alongside sourcing the most interesting and adaptable recipes. Do you agree?

Strawberry yoghurt – what’s the healthiest option?

22nd March 2017
strawberry yoghurt infographic

Yoghurt is often advertised as a health food. It’s full of “good bacteria”, vitamins and calcium. It aids digestion, helps your immune system and is high in protein. But not all yoghurts are created equal. To shed some light on this we’ve created an infographic to raise awareness of what’s really inside this popular dairy product (and watch sugar levels in soya versions too!).

We’ve compared nutritional information for three popular yoghurts to highlight the different options (values are per 100g). We know which one’s our favourite!


Standard strawberry yoghurt

  • Often advertised as a low fat option, turns out this is a low fruit and high sugar option as well! Low fat isn’t always the healthy choice. Increasing evidence is showing that it’s sugar that we need to watch to stay in shape.


Greek style strawberry yoghurt

  • Greek yoghurt tends to be higher in fat than standard yoghurt, but it’s also higher in protein. It has a thicker consistency and stronger flavour as it is more concentrated.


Natural yoghurt with fresh strawberries

  • You’ve guessed it, our number one option. High in fruit and surprisingly low in sugar, this is the most natural option. It might not carry a low fat or low sugar label, but it contains the fewest calories too!



Swapping ingredients to increase fruit and veg content in your meals and snacks, and reduce added sugar, is a great way to improve your health. Low fat diet advice is facing a lot of contradictory evidence, suggesting it isn’t always the best option. The best thing to do is to keep an eye on the nutritional information of what you’re eating to ensure you’re getting a balance of all nutrients.



What’s your favourite type of yoghurt? Have you checked the sugar content? Use Cook&Count on iOS or on Android to find out the nutritional content of all your favourite home cooked foods.

Five healthy swaps for a healthy life

8th March 2017
Hannah healthy swaps

Healthy eating advice and messages in the media can be confusing. We’re sold simple solutions when the underlying problems are far more complex. Content Manager Hannah shares her healthy swaps for a more balanced life and diet…

Since joining the Cook&Count team I’ve realised just how complex the world of health behavioural change is! It’s hard to keep up with all the contradictory messages and diet advice that’s out there. I’ve always aimed to live a healthy lifestyle, my biggest weakness being a sweet tooth (maybe that’s where my surname comes from!).

I read a lot of health news as part of my role in the team, and it’s pretty overwhelming. One week “all natural” is best, the next “butter leads to type 2 diabetes”. Then we hear “sugar is the enemy” but “artificial sweeteners increase appetite”. It’s hard to know what advice to pass on to friends looking to improve their diets.

While making a real effort to read up on the science behind claims and avoid simple messages, I do believe in simple switches and small steps leading to big changes. It’s all about habit forming. So here are my top 5 healthy swaps:


1. Squash to water

As a teenager I could never seem to get used to the taste of pure water, but after a short period of conscious effort I’ve come to drink barely anything else. My trusty bottle of water goes everywhere with me. Sugary drinks aren’t so good for hydration, as after the water has been absorbed, some of it must be used to digest the carbohydrate. Find some more sugar reducing swaps, plus learn about how sugar is affecting our kids, on NHS Change4Life.


2. Refined to whole grain

I automatically buy wholemeal bread and pasta and brown rice whenever I can. It baffles me why restaurants don’t often have the option of brown rice or pasta! Whole grains have more of the good stuff left in than refined grains. From vitamins and minerals to healthy fats, protein and fibre. It’s National Nutrition Month this March, so what better time to make the switch!


3. Milk to dark chocolate

I’m a big chocolate eater. I like to claim it’s for the iron and magnesium, but I really just like to end a meal on something sweet. It took a bit of getting used to, and it may be a little pricey, but 90% cocoa dark chocolate is now my top choice. Even 85% cocoa solids tastes a tad too sweet! And the sugar difference is surprising. While standard milk chocolate contains 56% sugar, some of the darkest chocolates contain just 7%. Here’s a nice infographic from Prevention.com examining the pros and cons of dark vs milk chocolate.


4. Step it up (swap the lift for the stairs and the bus for the pavement)

Walking, to me, is one of the most powerful tools for health and fitness. Few of us enjoy the gym, and walking is something everyone can fit into their daily routine. I know a number of people who’ve had huge weight loss success simply by increasing their step count. As a team we always try and take the stairs when we can! Check out the NHS 10,000 steps challenge to get walking more.


5. Watch your mood (swap snacking for sleep)

We all experience how tiredness and stress affect our mood and eating habits. When I’m low on sleep I’m always craving food to keep up my energy levels. It’s an obvious one, but the benefits can’t be overstated. Keep well rested to control your cravings! As it’s Sleep Awareness Week next month in the US, take a look at this video How much sleep we really need? from the National Sleep Foundation.



What are your healthy swaps? Download Coo&Count on iOS or on Android to see what changes you can make to your home cooked recipes to improve your health.

How cooking burns calories

31st January 2017
calories-burned-while-cooking

We believe in cooking from scratch not just for healthier eating, but for a healthier life. Getting active in the kitchen requires a bit more effort, but you’ll burn a good few more calories too!

Here at Health Apps, the Cook&Count app team don’t believe in strict calorie counting, but we absolutely do believe in calorie awareness and portion control. We need to know what we’re taking in in order to adjust our portions and daily exercise accordingly.

So does shopping for, preparing, cooking, serving and clearing a meal really count as exercise? It certainly does.


Food shopping

Wandering up and down the supermarket aisles or around the local shops is a healthy walk. You can burn close to 90 calories simply on your weekly food shop. And over 100 calories carrying your bags home or up some steps. Don’t ignore the effect of this routine exercise. It’s not just about the calories, it’s the movement and activity that really counts.


Preparing the dish

Thought standing around in the kitchen while you chop veg was a waste of time? Think again. From fridge to oven to sideboard and back again, you’ll be burning calories you didn’t even know about. Put some music on and you might even find yourself having an extra little jig!


Post-meal tidy up

Food bought, meal prepared and you thought you were done. But there are still more calories to lose. Laying and clearing the table then washing up will keep you moving and burning energy. The numbers may look small, but they all add up to a more active life.



That’s a grand total of 337 calories simply from creating a tasty meal! And that’s just an average. Calories burned will vary depending on your weight, so take a look on CalorieLab.com.

Cook&Count app has some tasty recipes for you to try and will show you how many calories are in any size portion, plus lots more useful nutritional information. Download Cook&Count app for free now!

Ten top tips for a healthy lifestyle

5th January 2017

Just in time for the new year, Cook&Count app founder Deborah Wilder-Wood shares her ten top tips for a healthy lifestyle in 2017…

Over the last two generations our lifestyles have changed dramatically. We can’t ignore this anymore. 60 years ago food was scarce and we were trying to get our hands on as much as we could. Now there is a lot of food. Most of it is cheap, convenient, and calorie dense. There are also so many labour saving devices, technological advances and home deliveries that most of us are not moving around enough. If we want to lose weight and be healthier, we need to forget about dieting and permanently change what we eat and how much we move.


1. Say no to ‘Good and bad’

Stop punishing yourself! Feeling annoyed because you’ve eaten something ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ is not going to help. Most people are eating too much sugar and could do with reducing their intake. But the occasional treat will not hurt. We just need to remember that we are animals. We need to eat and we need to move. We can have our cake and eat it. Providing we’re active.


2. Cook at home

Cook your own meals from scratch, rather than eating ready meals and takeaways. It will be rewarding, more nutritious and it’s a great way of controlling what’s in there – no chemicals, lower or no sugar, and so on. Aim to eat at least 4 portions of veg and 1 portion of fruit a day. Do not count fruit juice and smoothies – they contain too much sugar.


3. Snack on veg

Snack on raw vegetables like carrots, celery, beetroot and radishes. And try other nutritious foods, in smaller amounts, such as fresh fruit, unsalted nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate (at least 70%), and grainy crackers. Do not starve yourself – if you miss meals your metabolism may slow down as your body tries to store all the nutrients because it doesn’t know when the next meal will come.


4. Physical Activity 5 x 30 minutes

Physical activity is not just for weight loss, it will help prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. It will help keep your bones and muscles strong and your mood good. Do at least 5 thirty minute sessions of moderate intensity physical activity a week. Moderate intensity activity examples are: fast walking; hill walking; swimming; dancing, cycling; vacuuming; mowing the lawn; or digging the garden. To make it achievable and maintainable, fit as much of it as you can into your daily routine, such as walking and cycling to work. Stick to your intentions by writing down what, when and where you’re going to do something. Don’t be overambitious. And make plans together with a friend so that you can’t wriggle out of it. Check out the NHS One You page for some more tips on getting active.


5. Limit booze

Stick to the recommended maximum 14 units a week for women and 21 for a man and make sure you have at least two days off a week. This limits can be tough because the alcohol content of many wines and beers has increased. And serving sizes too, with the standard size for a glass of wine now 175ml. Which means there are 2.3 units in a standard glass of wine with 13% alcohol! Take a look at the World Cancer Research Fund Alcohol Calorie Counter to find out the number of calories in your drinks.


6. Cut smoking

At the moment e-cigarettes are very popular, but as they are so new there’s little research into their long-term side effects. They are not approved or regulated and recent research shows that this kind of nicotine use could lead to heart disease. If you are using one that contains nicotine, make sure you gradually reduce the strength of the vapour. See it as a tool to quit smoking rather than replacing one dependence with another. Just because e-cigarettes are ‘healthier’ does not mean that they are healthy.


7. Take a break

Get out every day for a brisk walk, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes. Don’t convince yourself that you’re too busy – a few minutes getting some fresh air, burning off some adrenaline and releasing some endorphins will make you feel more energetic, clearheaded and happier!


8. Ditch the scales

Give them to the charity shop, or take them round to a friend’s house and use them no more than once a month. Your weight is not about a number, it’s about how you feel and look. And remember that if you’re doing more exercise, you may be building more muscle which weighs more than fat.


9. Deal with stress

Stress isn’t always a bad thing – in the short term it can provide mental alertness, motivation and efficiency. Focus on the things that are within your realm of control. Live in the present and the future, there is nothing you can do about the past. When you do feel stressed, burn off the extra adrenaline by taking exercise.


10. Do a job you find fulfilling and challenging

Our work takes up most of our waking hours. If we don’t enjoy it, it will spill over into the rest of our lives and may lead us to become negative, demotivated and stagnant. Challenge yourself and be proactive about taking responsibility for your life. Do not say “I’ll try” or “I’ll see if I can”. You are already setting yourself up for failure. Say “I’ll do that” and then do it!



The Cook&Count app team wishes you a happy and healthy 2017! And for top tip number two, download Cook&Count app for free from the App Store and get back in the kitchen!