Week 7: Mike's food tracking diary - The big home cooked meal dilemma

I'm finding more problems and less solutions
Week 7: Mike's food tracking diary

I want so start this week's diary by just saying how great it has been living with the Fitbit Charge 2 again. It's still not the prettiest and I hate that I have to take it off before I get anywhere near any water (shower or swimming pool), but it's served as a reminder of just how good a fitness tracker it is at doing most other things. That said, as far as improving the food tracking experience, it did add the heart rate monitoring for improved calorie burn into the mix. But it wasn't really the dramatic change I yearned for.

The past week has got me thinking a lot about a problem that I've suffered since the first week of the food tracking diary and that's dealing with the home cooked meal. It's problematic because it's the hardest meal to track and Fitbit doesn't make life all that easy.

You can create custom foods but on those occasions I've had to add in a homemade tandoori chicken or one of my mum's Caribbean specials, it's a nightmare getting it logged into the app. Now I have to work out the calories in my meals? This is not going to end well. I even ended up logging something with no calorie total at all by accident and couldn't delete it. Big fail.

Read this: Fitbit smartwatch investigation - what should we expect?

It made me appreciate my time with MyFitnessPal a little more as it did make homemade meals slightly easier to log, but even then you're still dealing with rough estimations and that's still not good enough. For most people, cooking at home will help them be more healthy when it comes to food choices so this is worth harping on about.

So what's the solution if you're getting out the chopping board instead of dipping into the fridge or freezer for a ready made meal? Until there's a way we can work out how to accurately measure and track the breakdown of ingredients, it's never going to feel like we can get a true picture of what we're actually eating. It's the same for restaurant meals, which I've already touched on in previous weeks, but I feel like getting the food you eat at home in order is really key here.

There's some interesting ideas in the works (or claiming to be ready to do the job) that I've come across while doing some digging. SCiO by Consumer Physics is a small scanner with an optical sensor that can analyse molecular breakdown of food items. So you scan meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables to discover macro-nutrient information.

There's also the folks behind the SmartPlate who have devised a pretty standard looking plate that's placed on top of a dock. Once you've placed your food inside and snapped a smartphone photo of the items, the companion app promises to recognise items and log them as part of your food tracking.

I think the most exciting development lies with Google and could be the one that makes food tracking the seamless process I'd love it to be. It devised the Im2Calories project a couple of years ago, which uses AI to count calories in food photos. A great idea in theory but we've not heard much more about the project for a while now and it might be some time before it's ready for the masses.

I'm going to be speaking to the folks at SCiO and SmartPlate to see if I can give them in the spin, but for now, it's over to my last fitness tracker and app combo to put through their paces. I'm ditching the Fitbit for the Withings Steel HR, which will soon be renamed the Nokia Steel HR and the Wareable award-winning Health and Fitness Platform, Withings Health Mate.

I'm out of the country once again reporting on all things at MWC in Barcelona, so it's set to be another challenging week trying to log masses of patatas bravas, huevos estrellados and slices of manchego cheese. Wish me luck.

Mike's food tracking diary

Week 1: The quest to find out if food tracking works
Week 2: I'm in measurement hell
Week 3: The struggle is real
Week 4: It's finally starting to happen
Week 5: Making small steps to big change (hopefully)
Week 6: It's time to talk calories


Shop for recommended fitness trackers on Amazon

Fitbit Charge 2
Fitbit Charge 2
$89.99
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
$139.99
Withings Steel HR
Withings Steel HR
$199.99
Moov Now
Moov Now
$59.99

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