If you’re trying to shed pounds, new research shows that it pays to keep track of how much you eat and exercise each day. It’s not always an easy task — especially when you’re not sure how many calories were packed into that restaurant entree you had last night, or how many you burned jogging around the block this morning.
Those little uncertainties can pile up to create a big barrier between you and your health goals — and they’re the inspiration behind a new smartphone initiative by two industry-leading companies.
Global foodservice company Sodexo recently announced a partnership with MyFitnessPal, the popular nutrition and fitness app that gives users free “nutrition and fitness tracking” and access to a nutrition database of more than 1.8 million foods. The app boasts more than 20 million users and just made the top 30 of PC Magazine’s Best Free Apps for iPhone 2012.
Sodexo has initially agreed to make the dishes it serves in more than 1,800 corporate sites in the U.S. available on MyFitnessPal’s database, and plans to add its education and health care sites soon.
“Through our partnership, consumers will now be able to use MyFitnessPal to find nutrition information for thousands of Sodexo chef-developed recipes … as well as nutrition information for a wide variety of consumer packaged goods … consumers purchase from us,” said Bill Mitchell, Sodexo’s national director of consumer technology solutions.
Mitchell said the partnership came about through the realization that “consumers really want one go-to place” where they can easily track all their meals and workouts.
“[Sodexo has been] providing consumers with nutrition information for a number years on our café websites and signage, but we really wanted to make that information more actionable for consumers, and MyFitnessPal is a great tool to assist with that.”
I spoke with Mitchell about what makes the partnership stand out, and how the app helps drive healthy behavior changes.
There are scores of fitness apps in the market these days. What strikes you as particularly effective about MyFitnessPal, and your partnership with them?
One of the key features we really liked about MyFitnessPal is the scanning feature that allows consumers to easily download nutrition information directly from the unique codes on consumer packaged goods. Our partnership takes this concept one step farther, in that we’ve created unique codes for all of our Sodexo chef-developed products as well, and we’re now adding those to a variety of signs, labels and other outputs so consumers don’t even have to search the MyFitnessPal database to find the majority of products they purchase from us — they simply use their MyFitnessPal App scanner to instantly grab and log nutrition information for a wide variety of products.
Did the app teach you or anyone else in Sodexo something new about calorie counting and fitness?
Absolutely. By integrating the use of MyFitnessPal into my routine, it not only helps me keep track of my calorie intake and output each day, but it also drives behavior change. For instance, it’s easy to overdo portion sizes and overindulge when you’re really hungry, but having the visibility to know how those choices impact your nutrition goals can influence how you react the next time you’re in that situation — which for me is very often since I’m a true foodie. Also, by having visibility of the impact of exercise on my net calorie intake, it drives me to be more dedicated so I can enjoy that occasional indulgence without so much guilt. My personal experience and the stories we hear each day from Sodexo team members and consumers really reinforces what dietitians and health experts say — that daily tracking of physical activity and food intake is the single biggest tool for success in any health, diet or fitness program.