For the past few weeks, I’ve been using a new app to track my food called TwoGrand, and I’m in love. I had been looking for an easy way to visually track my food and exercise and keep it all in one place. I want my healthy lifestyle to be sustainable and I don’t want to have to track every calorie I eat for the rest of my life. Just taking pictures with my phone wasn’t enough accountability and food pictures would get lost among other photos. Then along came TwoGrand (literally, I saw an advertisement for it) – an app where I could just track my food and exercise with pictures, all organized in one place, plus the ability to follow other people living healthy just like me!
I was so impressed with the simplicity of this app and the welcoming environment that I contacted Peter, one of the co-founders of TwoGrand, for some more information on his creation.
Tell me a little bit about the co-founders of TwoGrand.
Peter: I’ve always been very health conscious, and my mom has been in pharmaceuticals her whole life, so her awareness and knowledge rubbed off on me. I’d grown increasingly frustrated with the way the diet/health industry operated, seeing so many friends and family struggle with one-size-fits-all diets and empty marketing promises.
Alex [co-founder] is really into nutrition and understanding the way different foods (and the chemicals that go into some of our foods) interact with our bodies. He’s shifted to an almost entirely plant-based diet since starting TwoGrand.
What was the inspiration for TwoGrand?
Peter: The inspiration for TwoGrand came back in 2010 when a friend and co-worker asked me what I was having for lunch, to which I replied, “Not sure yet. How about you?” He then said, “Nope, that’s not how this is going to work. My new diet is to eat whatever you’re eating because clearly it works better than what I’m doing.” It instantly hit me that the personalization element that is sorely needed when it comes to weight loss and healthy eating can come from following the routines of people just like you, but at your goal weight (or who have completed whatever health goal you have). The idea stuck with me for years, and 2013 was the right time to start the company with Alex.
Why did you decide to use pictures instead of traditional calorie tracking?
Peter: A big piece of our philosophy is that food is meant to be enjoyed, and no app should get in the way of that. We knew that logging your food and exercise would be a key part of TwoGrand, and when we asked, “What’s the simplest way to make that happen,” photos was the answer.
Would you rather type out the 7 ingredients of your turkey sandwich individually, or scroll through a list of 20 different turkey sandwiches, or simply take a photo and know that the turkey sandwich you’re looking at was what you ate. 90% of food journaling’s effectiveness comes simply from the act of logging/journaling alone. If you record your food intake and exercise, you’ll become much more aware of your habits and tendencies.
Additionally, photos are incredibly powerful. To look at a single screen (without needing to swipe/scroll) and see a full day of meals, drinks and exercise, in visual form, is something you can’t simulate with any other medium.
For more information on the benefits on tracking your food, check out this article from WebMD!
Read the full journal article here – Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial.
How It Works
The app is super easy to use so there really is no learning curve. When you first set it up, you answer some questions about yourself so that it can match you with other users. This way, you can follow them and find inspiration in their daily activities and eats. You set up your profile and you are ready to go! You can also search people by username – I am AngelaL.
You can also answer more questions later by clicking on the light bulb. This will help to further narrow down your friend suggestions. Questions ask about your exercise preferences, your dietary preferences, etc. to find people like you! You can also look for people near your current weight (CW) or near your goal weight (GW). I think that is a pretty cool feature as you can see what people are doing who are at your goal weight or who are in the same place as you.
You can view your friend feed (home symbol) or your own profile (person symbol). There are options to comment, like, and favorite each post on your feed. The favorite option will save it on your profile so you can go back to it later. Great for when someone shares a recipe or a food combo you want to try! You can also view your profile as a feed or a daily view. I like the daily view so I can see how my day is shaping up.
Adding an entry is really easy too. You just click on the green plus sign and it gives you a camera screen where you can take a picture, add a picture from the gallery, or select a previous meal. The repeat meal option is great if you are like me and eat a lot of the same things over and over. You can also skip the picture if you are forgetful like me too and already ate your food. After you pick your photo, you can edit the time and date, meal, and description. You can put anything in the description – what you ate, how it tasted, calories (if you want), the recipe, how you were feeling when you ate, etc. Anything! This is also how you track exercise so you can describe your workout here too. Don’t forget the workout picture too!
Like I said, I am really enjoying the app for a number of reasons.
- Accountability – Having other people to follow and following me makes me want to track everything, be honest, and eat healthy!
- Visible Health – Seeing all my food right there every day makes me want to make it the healthiest food possible. No one wants to see an entire day of junk food.
- Ease of Tracking – It takes me less than half the time it used to take me to track my food. If I’m really short on time, I can just snap a photo and forgo the description.
- Extra Information – Even though you would think it was less information with the lack of calories, I actually find I track more information by writing down my mood, how I liked my meal, if I was hungry, munchy, or just bored, etc. For some, this is might be more important than knowing the calories.
- Decreased Number Obsession – For a while there, I felt number obsessed and it stressed me out. Now instead of worrying about calories, I worry about quality of food and portion sizes that will keep me satisfied. Though I still have slip ups, I feel more in tune with my body.
There are a few downsides to the app that some people might find:
- No Calories – Some people don’t know proper portion sizes and how much they should be eating (be it more or less than they are now).
- No Guidance – This app is to simply track and does not have the “educational information” that other site-based apps do such as My Fitness Pal and Spark People.
Neither of these cons effect me much but I thought I should point them out for informational purposes. Remember though that calories were not part of the grand plan of the app so it is no surprise they are left out. Of course, like I said, you can always put the calories in the description if you know them (if you want to track calories AND track visually).
Another great use for this app is if you want to track your calories at the end of the day. You can just snap pictures all day and then sit down at the computer at the end of the night to find out your numbers. I used to track my food that way to teach myself to eat proper portions sizes and total amounts each day. Each day would be a learning experience and I slowly became used to proper portions.
I hope I’ve give you something to think about with your food and fitness tracking. Sometimes simpler can be better. If you decide to give TwoGrand a try, make sure you follow me and I will follow you back! We can be there to support each other!
Do you track your food intake and exercise?
What is your preferred method (pen & paper, website, phone app, pictures, etc.)?