Words on Wellness

Guest Column
Rachel Wall
Nutrition & Health Specialist, ISU Extension & Outreach

Tracking for health

     “What gets measured, gets managed” – Peter Drucker, management consultant and author.

     Weight loss is a common goal many people share. Research suggests that tracking what we eat and how much we move can help us reach and maintain a healthy weight. Apps can make this tracking easier and more fun.

     Check out these apps to help you achieve your health goals:

     • MyFitness Pal – This is a free calorie-counting app with more than five million foods in the data base and featuring a bar-code scanner option for ease and accuracy in tracking food intake. Users are able to set goals and track progress toward daily intake targets. Recipes and videos are shared when users log in to track food intake. (Myfitnesspal.com)

     • Spend Smart. Eat Smart. – You can carry Spend Smart. Eat Smart. in the palm of your hand at the grocery store with the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. mobile app. The app tools make shopping for healthy foods a breeze. Produce Basics helps you choose, clean, store, and prepare fresh vegetables and fruit with ease. The Recipe Finder helps you keep track of your favorite recipes from the website. The Unit Price Calculator compares products to help you find the best price.

     The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app will be available soon. Watch the website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, and Facebook page for announcements about the release.

     • Dine Safe – This is a free app that allows users to identify restaurants that cater to allergies and restrictions using a sort menu that compares allergies to allergens in each menu. (Dinesafeapp.com)

     • Epicurious – This free app offers cooking tips, recipe collections, and holiday menus. Epicurious is adding original video and features a seasonal ingredients finder and smart kitchen timer. (Epicurious.com)

Facts about the date on your food package

     The dates provided on food products can be confusing. This confusion often leads to unnecessary food waste. Manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of the best quality. To determine quality dates, manufacturers consider the length of time the food has been held during distribution and the holding temperature, the characteristics of the food, and the type of packaging used.

     For example, fresh beef packaged in a reduced oxygen packaging system will stay fresh longer than meat not packaged this way. The quality may deteriorate after these dates, but the product is still safe to eat if handled properly. Open dating is used on most food, such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Closed or coded dating is a series of letters and/or numbers that typically appears on shelf-stable products like cans or boxes of food. Common phrases used are the following.

     “Best if used by/before” indicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.

     “Sell by” tells the store how long to display the product for inventory management. It is not a safety date. You should buy the product before the sell-by date, but you can still store it at home beyond that date as long as you follow safe storage procedures.

     “Use by” is the last date recommended for use of the product at peak quality. It is not a safety date.

     For more information, check out this website: stilltasty.com.


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