Start Simple with MyPlate: App Review
This time of year is typically full of fresh starts and new resolutions. Often those
goals include eating better and living a healthier lifestyle. And while there are
countless apps to help you keep track of what you eat throughout the day, some of
them can be costly, difficult to figure out, and ineffective.
So to help you stay motivated and keep track of your nutrition goals throughout the year, consider using the free USDA MyPlate app: Start Simple with MyPlate.
Why should I use Start Simple with MyPlate?
Healthy eating can help you achieve a healthier life overall. Start Simple with MyPlate is based on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The app can help users make positive changes towards balanced eating through:
- setting simple food goals
- learning how to meet those goals
- seeing real-time progress
- earning badges along the way
How do I get started with the Start Simple with MyPlate app?
Visit https://www.myplate.gov/resources/tools/startsimple-myplate-app or search the term “MyPlate.gov” to find Start Simple with MyPlate in your app store. Once you install the app on your smart device, you’ll be prompted to set your goals or have the app choose goals for you.
For customized goal setting and resources, consider taking the MyPlate Quiz and entering the result code into the MyPlate Quiz menu option. You'll be prompted to either enter your MyPlate Quiz results code or take the quiz. The quiz will open in your web browser and will give you a chance to answer questions about your nutrition goals, typical eating patterns, possible barriers to balanced eating, and topics of interest regarding nutrition. At the end of the quiz, you’ll even get a chance to type-in other resource topics related to healthy eating that may interest you. Once you've taken the quiz, scroll down to your results code and write it on a piece of paper. Then return to the app and enter your results code.
Once you choose whether to set goals based on your results, you can use the the Goals Dashboard to review and edit your goals.
What’s included in the Start Simple with MyPlate app?
Within each food group you’ll be prompted to select up to three goals each day (i.e. have a vegetable for breakfast or have a protein food as a snack). Once you’ve selected your goals, tap done and your list of goals will appear for that food group. Each goal has a check box to the left so you can indicate you’ve completed that particular goal and each goal has a Tip 💡 button for simple ideas to help you reach your goal.
You may be pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it can be to boost the number of whole grains you get in a day or reduce the amount of sugar you consume in a day.
At a glance you can see your progress during the current week and any badges you may have earned. With a tap of the drop-down menu, you can find your progress over the last week, month, year, or a custom date range. Being able to see this data is meant to help you stay motivated to keep trying to reach your MyPlate goals.
Need a boost of confidence or a little extra motivation to keep you going? Check out the Badges section to keep the competitor within you satisfied of your progress. You’ll earn badges upon completion of goals and challenges, and you can share your progress with your friends.
The MyPlate model is a reminder to find your healthy eating style and build it throughout your lifetime. MyPlate 101 gives you the basics of each food group and links you to more information for each group on the USDA MyPlate.gov website.
Periodically, this tab will update with challenges such as complete 20 goals in one month or earn one food badge this month. Complete the challenge, earn your badge, and share your results if you’d like.
User Profiles (Optional)
While it isn’t required to use the app or resources, you can elect to create an account to keep track of your progress no matter which device you use. This account allows you to login to all MyPlate tools, including:
- MyPlate website
- MyPlate Kitchen
- MyPlate Quiz
- Start Simple with MyPlate app
The process is straight forward and quick although it requires you to access your email during enrollment so be ready for that, if you choose to set up a profile.
What are the benefits and challenges to using Start Simple with MyPlate?
While I typically opt-out of any notifications from new apps, the daily notification may be the #1 feature of the Start Simple with MyPlate app. The subtle reminder to keep working towards my nutrition goals has really helped me increase my fruit and vegetable intake over these last couple years.
You can elect to receive notifications from this app upon installation or go to your app Settings and turn on notifications for Start Simple with MyPlate.
The app also has helpful tips and learning opportunities for building more balanced meals.
What I like least about this app is that you have to cross between the app and website to access all of the information. However, with a careful eye, you can easily look at the top of the screen to see which you are using and simply jump back and forth as desired.
Visit https://www.myplate.gov/resources/tools/startsimple-myplate-app to download the app today.