Apple’s Health app in iOS 10 prominently displays Nutrition as one of the four main categories on the Health Data dashboard, but adding detailed information currently requires a third-party meal logging app with HealthKit support. Apple recommends a variety of solutions that work well including Lifesum and MyFitnessPal, but ultimately a native meal logging feature and first party food database would make the Health app much more useful.
I personally use the Health app regularly to monitor trends over time like Activity which the Apple Watch captures and Weight which my smart scale adds, but I don’t open the Health app daily.
I do open MyFitnessPal every day to log my meals and capture data for the Nutrition category in Apple’s Health app.
The overall experience is pretty good. Include your current weight and describe your activity levels, then MyFitnessPal gives you a daily calorie goal and automatically subtracts calories burned that Apple Watch captures. MyFitnessPal was a key tool for me when using the Apple Watch to become healthier.
MyFitnessPal and similar apps are also valuable because they have a huge database of foods with nutritional information that users submit. Logging new meals usually only requires scanning a barcode or searching for an item on the database.
But the experience isn’t perfect. MyFitnessPal was bought by UnderArmour (for $475 million!) two years ago and UnderArmour doesn’t let you forget it (right down to the UA logo on the app icon). The app promotes UA hardware and includes a lot of content like blog posts within the app that I’d prefer not to see.
Now that I have a good sense of how to make healthier food choices and maintain my ideal weight, I’m mainly interested in logging meals to capture nutritional information and fill the Health app with data.
MyFitnessPal and similar apps are still excellent resources for using HealthKit to plug data into the Health app, but licensing or building a first party food database and adding native meal tracking features to the Health app would make it way more essential.
Nutrition is already a primary category next to Activity, Mindfulness, and Sleep. Apple Watch can track both Activity and Mindfulness already, and sleep tracking from the Apple Watch is likely coming in the future (and the Clock app already supports basic sleep tracking).
That leaves Nutrition as the only main category that still requires a third-party solution to easily log data. You can manually log dietary energy in the Health app, but the process is rather crude. Logging any meaningful amount of nutritional data using just the Health app today would require dozens of steps that I can’t imagine anyone actually doing.
The current model of relying on HealthKit to feed data into the Health app and populate the dashboard is a great approach for providing a variety of solutions, but as the Health app matures it would also be a major step forward to see meal logging and a built-in food database included in the future.