FoodNoms - the best nutrition tracker I’ve found

I’ve always liked the idea of tracking my food intake but not necessarily for dieting and therein lies the problem. Most apps assume you want to lose weight and they’re heavily targeting that.

They also want to target as many people as possible and how can you do that?

  1. A crowd sourced database which minimal effort - scan barcode, choose amount add and done.
  2. Target every operating system mean iOS, Android, desktop, etc.

There is nothing particularly wrong with this approach but you have to be exceptionally careful.

For starters, a large database of foods, no matter how much attention was paid in adding the items will go out of date. Now factor in people think salt equals sodium, some people only care about calories and add only that and all the other problems and you end up with database of what is quite frankly garbage. I’ve always been of the opinion the best way forward is for governments to require all food and drink (yes, alcohol manufacturers too even if they really don’t want to) manufacturers to submit their nutritional information to a central source which the government can provide for either a cost or free. This would remove the core problem with nutrition trackers and allow developers to focus on other problems.

But that won’t happen so, in my opinion, the next best option is to just cut out the communal database.

That leaves the other problem, the generic, often what at least feels like an electron app design of the apps. You could always make the addition of new items into your personal library more easily, I think, if you target the strengths of your operating system rather than making a generic fits all systems approach.

If you don’t want to carry on reading, the tldr gist of this whole thing is that FoodNoms ticked basically all the boxes to fix the problems above in a nice, fair and sustainable business model. If you have an iOS device this is really the only way to go, in my opinion. But if you want to carry on…

The pre-Food Noms days

Lose it was perhaps the closest I’ve found to a nutrition tracker that was nice, reasonably laid out and functional. Yes they’d push hard for subscriptions. That’s fair, they need to eat. It had nice emojis for the items which is a fun addition and I felt it had flexibility in adding items.

What it lacked was salt to sodium conversion, it still push sourced results on you so you have to clear them all our before adding your own correct set.

While it looked fine it just didn’t feel quite right. So, went about writing down all the ways I think nutrition trackers could be improved. This included things like localised defaults, salt to sodium conversion (this is such an important one and last I looked no one cares about it), import / export of data, a non-diet approach and a whole set of other things. I sort of feel maybe one day I should export my Good notes notebook on this but my handwriting is kind of awful.

Before tackling this though I needed to learn iOS app development, which I started, then got into Swift UI, then started doing a basic app first. Once I did the whole process I could work on this.

The post-Food Noms days

I did all of that and I’m wrapping up my first app. While doing so I’ve found out, by complete chance, about FoodNoms via ATP episode 385 and I’ve been blown away. This is basically everything I’ve wanted to do except maybe the import / export / sharing of data.

It does have a community database of foods but as far as I can tell the default is you have nothing to do with it (if that changes the settings are there to cut yourself off). It thoughtfully considers things such as how fibre should be recorded and provides options.

You might thing it reads calories wrong but that’s because it picks up the KJ and, I suspect provides a much more precise calculation rather than the food label’s rounded version.

Visually it’s beautiful. It’s simple and not too hard to get to most things. However, I would suggest to the developer to make it easier to get to the library of foods.

Just check out the website, it covers everything pretty well. As far as I can tell you can pretty much do everything you want for free and, so far, there seems to be little reason to what to pay. If you end up using it, the annual cost is $16. If you end up being a heavy user of it you really should consider it if you can afford it.

So, in the end I’m probably not going to do my own nutrition tracker. I’m happy about that. It would have been a fun project but one I would do but primarily to solve a problem. Some one has already solved it more or less how I’d envision it and in fact probably better simply down to them being more experienced and the developer was very thoughtful about it should work.

I’m happy someone got there first and thoroughly recommend you try the app.