Foodswitch App – Helping You Make Healthy Food Choices

I am always trying to find ways to make it easier to make sure I am making the healthy food choices for my kids. Buying fresh fruit and veg is an easy way to do this, but as part of our regular eating we do buy some processed foods like:

  • Crackers
  • Cereal
  • Yoghurt
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Butter

Making the comparisons in the supermarket aisle with the kids can be tricky, so I am completely loving the new Foodswitch App. It has been developed in partnership by Bupa (health insurance company) and The George Institute for Global Health (research organisation). You can read more about the app here.

FoodSwitch is a free app which allows you to scan the barcode of packaged foods using your iPhone camera and to receive nutritional info using the traffic light labelling criteria. The app has a database of over 20,000 packaged foods that are stocked in major Australian supermarkets.

Foodswitch App In Action

You can download the app here from iTunes and it is super easy to use. The best way to show how cool it is, is to show you some of my results from scanning I did at the supermarket and at home from products I have already purchased. Some of the results really surprised me.

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Butter – I have used this Western Star spreadable butter for years and thought it was pretty good. But after seeing the results, once our stocks run out, I will be switching to Devondale Extra Light.

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Pasta Sauce – These results provide a good example where you still need to exercise personal judgement when interpreting the results. Yes the pasta sauce we use is higher in sugars and salt, but it is organic. I need to make a decision about which criteria is the most important one here for me.

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Cereal – Special K is my breakfast cereal of choice. The results recommended Be Natural 5 Whole Grains FLakes, which had a profile as follows:

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I bought the Be Natural cereal for the first time and liked it.

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Crackers – Using the app can take up some time though. I really like Vita Weat 9 grains crackers and so do the kids, but there are actually two healthier options. I did quite a bit of scanning of the different cracker options, including:

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Cracker Alternative – Vita Weat Original

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Cracker Alternative – Woolworth’s Low Fat Crackers. Now I bought a packet of these for me to have, but I bought the Vita Weat Original for the kids lunch boxes. My kids find plain water crackers pretty boring and they come back in the lunch boxes at the end of the day.

The overall energy count for the Low Fat Crackers crackers is marginal (1630 vs 1620), I was happy to go with a cracker I know they will eat. The best thing is I have made an educated decision – I had the data to analyse and made my assessment from that, not from just a hurried glance on the box.

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There were some products I tried like kids individual yoghurt packs that weren’t in the database. It then asks you to assist my photographing the front of the product and the nutritional info box. The more people add to the database, the better it will become as a tool for healthy choices.

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Diet coke – I have added this result, as those who know me, know that I consume just a little bit of this product! The Foodswitch App tells it as it is!

Foodswitch App The Verdict

If you have an iPhone app and want to start making healthier food choices this app is a must. You will still need to use discretion based on your families needs and preferences, but it really gives you plenty of information about the products you are purchasing and how healthy they are.

The first time you take it to the supermarket with you, make sure you have a bit of time up your sleeve. I spent twice as long at the supermarket, scanning different products in my quest to find the healthiest option for my family! Once you start to know what you new stock products are though, you would only need to scan the more occasional items so it wouldn’t take so long.

(Although I did find myself picking up items that I don’t even usually buy just to check out what their rating and alternative was 🙂 .)

What do you take into account when making food purchases for your family?