Americans live with a sad irony: More than 200 million of us are overweight or obese, but another 49 million don’t have enough to eat. A new app aims to help with both problems.
Every time you cook or buy food at a restaurant, the FoodTweeks app suggests a small change to make whatever you’re eating slightly healthier. Then it calculates the number of calories you’ve saved and donates the same amount to a local food bank.
“Two years ago, a small team of us were trying to figure out how we could get 50 million Americans–the approximate number you would need to have any meaningful change in the country–to have an easier and more successful time of managing their weight,” says FoodTweeks founder Evan Walker. “Diets are not sustainable, and most people go running from food that has the label ‘healthy’ attached to it.”
Instead of suggesting a diet, the app lets you eat what you want, but offers ways to shave off a few calories with every meal. “Let’s say you order a Big Mac at McDonald’s,” Walker says. “Type that into our app and the suggested ‘tweaks’ will include take out the middle bun, order it without cheese, try it without the special sauce, or get rid of the top bun, among others.”
The diner chooses a “tweak,” and then the app adds up the number of calories saved. Each time someone saves 600 calories, the app makes a donation to a nearby food bank, inspired by the fact that as the app’s designers researched healthier diets, they also started learning about the state of food insecurity in the U.S.
“Millions of families do not have reliable access to nutritious food. In a serendipitous twist, it turns out that addressing both of these problems at the same time is easier than dealing with them individually,” Walker explains. “Turning our users actions into donations encourages them to continue making their calorie-reducing changes.”
The average diet lasts only about five weeks, according to one study. Maybe something like this can provide the motivation to actually make healthier eating a habit.