experiment: eatpal

I have created an app for myself to eat more mindful.

I can easily gain 9 kg per year. I know it because I did weight myself every now and then. While I watched the scale rise, I was reluctant to do anything about it. For a reason: I was stressed with my just founded innovation consultancy. Sugar gave me the energy I needed, and I needed a lot of it. I started the company with a weight of about 85 kg. One morning, roughly 4 years later, I went on the scale again and was shocked: I have reached 120 kg (~265 lbs). One-hundred-and-twenty!

The next day I saw a photo of me during a presentation. Another shock moment. This was a real eye opener for me. I saw what my mindless eating has done to me, visually and in the metrics. I decided to stop it, but I knew I would need help to keep myself mindful of what I eat, accountable to my goals and motivated to stay on track.

My first thought was: There must be an app for that! So I tried them all. From calories counting to steptracking. While there are several fitness trackers which I worked well for me, none of the food tracking apps did give me the support and tools I needed. It did not feel helpful searching through food databases and picking every ingredient of my salad one by one. Very tedious taks and even worse; distracting from the eating experience itself. Definetly not motivating.

While I was already going to the gym 4 times a week, I could never out-train a bad eating behavior.

So I decided to design an app for my problem. It is called eatpal and you can download it for your iPhone for free.

The key goal is to stimulate mindful and reflective eating and thereby support a lifestyle change, instead of a quick fix diet. Eatpal will help you to form balanced eating habits. Instead of dogmatic restrictions – which rarely works anyway – you make healthy or unhealthy choices and eatpal will help you to remember them and to analyze which impact they have on reaching your goals.

I believe that good design and everyday technology can support a mindful food lifestyle, emphasizing self–reflection & motivational triggers.

Here is a quick start guide for how to use eatpal:

  1. Take a photo of everything you eat. From full meals to the little snacks in between. As well as all drinks.
  2. Reflect about how much this meal is aligned with your food goals or not and which ingredient categories it contains.
  3. A visual list of all your meals helps you to remember and to analyse your habits. A countdown shows how much remaining energy you have committed to. In other words: The minimum time until your next planned meal.
  4. Weight yourself every morning to monitor your progress and keep you motivated. If you set a weight goal in future, eatpal will draw a line to show you how well you are doing along your journey.

I was using a prototype of eatpal and the methods of a reflective eating lifestyle for about a year now. I have lost more than 25 kg (55 lbs) since. Is my journey over yet? Not at all! I am still overweight, and I am working on it. All my future learnings on my weight loss and eating journey will influence the further development of eatpal.

But now it is not just me anymore. Eatpal is developed by a very motivated team and the app is used by several hundred people every day, just a few weeks after release.