“Irish study warns of dark side of fitness app”

Yes. I look way too delighted in this photo for such a bland headline, but I am!

I hope this is the start of a long, slow, painful death of health apps.

I have a lot against them . Both personal and professional.

From a professional level let’s review how calories are estimated.

A food is blown up in steel box (a bomb calorimeter) and the energy measured in kilocalories emitted from the explosion is what gives us the calorie number.

Now, are you a steel box? No? And last time I checked I’m not either.

Not alone that but how food is absorbed has a lot to do with the profile of your gut bacteria. And even within the same family, that profile is totally different, i.e you will have a very different profile from your siblings and parents. Our gut profile is literally as unique as we are, and therefore our absorption rates are too.

Then there’s hormones like the stress hormone cortisol which will effect how you metabolise and store fat. So how stressed you are at the time of eating and exercise will change things too.

Then there’s your FFM (Fat free mass) to FM (fat mass) ratio.

Because inserting 80kg into an app is a very broad information to be giving.

Fat free mass : your organs, bones, cells etc are active i.e they are constantly using calories.

Fat on the other hand just sits there and is not paying any rent, not taking nearly as much calories.

So depending on your ratio of fat to muscle you will be needing and burning completely different amounts.

My goal is to help patients become like a naturally slim person, and all the behaviours that go along with that: enjoying food with friends, loved ones, and not harming their social life in general.

Dieters on the other hand, those who obsess, calculate and monitor numbers tend to get fatter over time. Their goal is to not eat “bad” food, which results in glamorising it and overeating it.

On the personal level I hate apps because when I was a previous overeater & binge eater constantly on a diet, I used use my fitness pal and any other app I came across. My weight fluctuated in 3 stone / 18kg ranges. & info and apps worsened my obsession and confirmed all my suspicions: that I was an excessively greedy, fat, pig who’d never get to where I wanted to be with weight.  Now I see how ludicrous that was. Hanging all my happiness on this little external device that bases it’s summaries on  arbitrary formulas.

So what’s next? An app to tell you when to put on or off your jumper?

An app to tell you when to go to the toilet?

I’m not over-exaggerating it would be as stupid.

Body temperature and when you need to go to the loo are completely unique to you, and completely unique to that time and that day.

Our body is constantly responding to data from our external and internal environment and then generating signals and urges like cold, or needing to go to the loo, so we take appropriate action.

Your nutrition is exactly the same anything.

Just like if you don’t know whether your cold or not , it means your not.

If you don’t know whether your hungry or not, it means your not, and you don’t need food. No matter what the app says!

And the same goes for fullness! No matter what the app says.

Responding to those signals is a lot harder than it sounds if you are an emotional eater and thats the problem, theres a hell of a lot of undiagnosed binge eaters out there. And the treatment for binge eating has NOTHING to do with nutrition, it is to treat the underlying anxiety and depression.

But back to the apps.. my summary is , you are capable beyond belief, and the smallest of your abilities, one of the one’s you were born with and no one had to teach you, is when you are hungry and when you are full.

You’ve got this. Delete the app and be freeeeeeee 🙂


January 16th 2020