Dining out doesn't mean we have to give up on our healthy eating habits. But, despite all technology advancements, find healthy options when going out to eat is still challenging, especially for people having food allergy/intolerance, or following a special diet, such as low fat, low sodium, low calories, and so on.
Finding options at local restaurants that match your dietary needs isn't just a fad or a trend; it became a necessity for many.
There are many calorie counting apps out there that could help people keep track of calories they eat or create their own menus, but they rarely provide assistance in searching for restaurants that serve healthy dining options.
Having a pocket nutritionist with you all the time, such as Healthy Out app we reviewed today, would make following your diet plan easier despite being faced with a menu of options when dining out.
Healthy Out is a free app for Android and iOS devices, which help users find various dishes at local restaurants that meet specific dietary criteria. It uses your current location to recommend restaurants in your area.
The app opens to a page that features a couple of search fields allowing you to enter your street and ZIP code, or allowing the app to access your location using the device's GPS.
Once you've entered your location you can tap on 'Find your food' button, which would list all nearby restaurants with a number of healthy dishes on their menu, distance, address, the price of the delivery, and optionally, the Yelp rating.
Restaurant page would provide you with more details on the dishes they serve. You can view just healthy meals or full menu (the healthy meals would be highlighted in green).
You can also view more information about the particular restaurant, i.e. map, directions, working hours, and their phone number.
Users can view the dish details by tapping on the meal in the list. Here, you can view price, ingredients, and healthy modifications, i.e. what change was made to the dish, such as no cheese, bread, or potato, dressing on the side, and so on.
The app doesn't show the picture of the meal. It shows only one image for all meals and that's a bottom of a plate (perhaps due to stretched original image). I don't mind this, but it would be nice if there's at least a unique picture for salads, sandwiches, soups, etc. It's not a lot of effort and it would look nicer.
You can also view nutrition information for the particular dish, i.e. if it's balanced, low carb, low calories, etc. Finally, if you like the meal, you can tap on Crave icon and add it to your crave list that can be accessed from the main page.
You'd probably be disappointed (just like I was) that there's no detailed nutrition information for dishes including calories and points, although the app claims otherwise in its description.
Fret not. Detailed information is here, however, it's hidden from the plain sight for the reasons known only to the app developers.
To view calories, as well as detailed information about protein, carbs, and fat, you need to return to the dish page or the restaurant list and tap on Filter.
Here, you'd see that all filters are disabled by default which is a strange practice in UI/UX design. Actually, I wouldn't call this a filter. The filter is something that helps you filter out the results, but how can you filter out something that isn't shown in the first place.
The filters provided in HealthyOut app enable users to reveal more information related to nutrition, calories, cuisines, ingredients, and type of dish. Users can choose to view restaurants which are opened now, as well as fast food.
Nutrition filter shows 14 nutrition plans, including Balanced, Low Carb, Paleo, Vegan, and more, allowing users to choose only meals from a particular plan.
Calories filter enable daily max calories input, restricting results to chain restaurants, while cuisines allow users to choose popular national cuisines, such as American, Italian, Chinese, and so on.
The app also filters out results by popular ingredients, which include 11 popular ingredients from beef to shellfish to whole grain.
Finally, users can choose which type of dish they want to eat, such as sandwich, salad, burger, wraps, pasta, and so on.
If you've chosen one of the filters, particularly calories, you'd notice that meal view has changed (for the better). Now, you could see the number of calories for a particular meal, along with a chart showing the percentage of protein, carbs, and fat.
You can also view a percentage of a 1500 calorie diet, as well as a percentage of diet with the max number of calories you've entered.
Detailed nutrition data for each meal is also provided, including total fat, cholesterol, sodium, dietary fiber, and more, along with Weight Watchers' PointsPlus.
It would be much better if the app doesn't hide all these things, i.e. if the filters are visible right at the startup, if they're enabled by default, or even better, if there's some sort of questionnaire upon registering that would ask a series of questions about any special dietary needs, kind of foods to eat/avoid, user's height and weight, and so on, helping the app personalize recommendations.
While the app doesn't require registering an account, users are supposed to create one if they want to be able to save dishes on their craving list for quicker access.
The app also allows users to use the search function when looking for a restaurant or a particular meal.
While finding restaurants in NYC worked quite well, I had trouble finding healthy restaurants in Jersey City, or typing Broadway with the correct ZIP would show recommendations for Broadway, NC (actually it didn't show any restaurant).
Obviously, there's a room for improvement before we can name HealthyOut app an ultimate pocket companion for finding healthy local restaurants. Still, it is a useful app for anyone looking for healthy options while eating out.
Benefit: The app helps to find healthy local restaurants