A few weeks ago Ken Marshall, the Chief Executive of FoodCare Inc. in California, emailed me about a new App for renal patients called My Food Coach. The app and its supporting website provide customised nutrition guidance for recipes, grocery items, restaurant dishes and meal plans for people with special dietary restrictions like kidney failure and diabetes.
It is hosted by the US National Kidney Foundation (NKF), and is an excellent tool to help us BigD-ers stick to our “low this, not too much of that” diets and still enjoy a range of different foods at home and out on the town.
And it’s Free on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
When I signed up, I provided basic info (age, gender, height, weight, activity level) and nominated osteopenia, dialysis with normal potassium and no diabetes.
The App then assigned me a range of dietary guidelines (maximum or minimum amounts of different food nutrients from various health associations) and each time I select a supermarket food item, recipe or a meal it measures it against the guidelines, and tells me if it is OK (with a green tick), is reasonably healthy, bad and or forbidden.
And I can add my own recipes via the website, and get the same personalized nutrition analysis and guidelines on them. That could be a useful check, especially when something like my phosphate or calcium starts misbehaving, to help identify the culprit.
I can also nominate local restaurants that serve dishes that meet my dietary guidelines, so other users can enjoy them too.
The App is about to be updated with a meal planner, which helps users plan a single meal (combinations of grocery items, recipes, restaurant dishes, etc.) or the menu for a week or more. It tells you if the meal passes your per-meal guidelines, or if your overall day’s intake is passing your daily guidelines. This could be useful for someone just diagnosed with kidney failure (or diabetes, osteoporosis, etc) working with a dietitian to help understand their dietary needs.
The Pro version of the App is for registered dietitians who can use it to connect with their clients’ FoodCare profile. The dietitian can view the dietary guidelines that have been automatically assigned, and then go in and customize them for any individual client. Advanced coaching support like expanded patient notes, uploading lab results, tracking client health stats, etc. are planned for future releases.
The App is quite new, so the recipe and meal lists are fairly thin right now (November 2014), but growing. Ken tells me that they’re also adding more social networking features so the NKF can better engage their community members (sharing and featuring recipes, recipe commenting, more social sharing, etc.).
The App and website are currently US-oriented (I struggled to put my height and weight in feet, inches and pounds without a calculator!), and some of the functions are not so relevant (Events focus on the US, News is not local and Packaged Goods are not the ones we know). Ken assures me that they’re “hoping to launch” an Australia version in the next few months. That would be great, especially for packaged food available in Australian supermarkets.
But these are peripheral to the main game: customised nutrition guidance. All in all, the App is a great resource, really simple, with one main screen and lots of background management functions. The resources are very comprehensive and I especially like the Connect with a Dietitian and that they can view their clients’ FoodCare profile and customise client dietary guidelines for any individual. An ideal resource for anyone on a restricted diet (like us BigD-ers), especially those just starting out.
Rating: Four Stars!