The potential health dangers of smartphones are old news by now. They keep us up at night staring at blue screens full of stressful work emails when we’re supposed to be winding down. They destroy our circadian rhythms and keep us glued to our screens instead of making actual human connections with the people around us. Okay, okay. We all know, already.
But even though we’ve all read the concerned editorials, almost nobody is actually willing to give up their phone! Maybe it’s because we actually do need them for work; maybe it’s because on the balance they do more good than harm. Maybe we really are all addicts in denial. But in any case, we have work with technology, not insist on giving it up and retreating back to the 90s.
That’s not necessarily a problem, though. Technology is a tool. It can absolutely help you get healthier – but you have to use it, not the other way around! So here are some Paleo and Paleo-friendly smartphone apps that might help you use your phone for good, not for evil.
None of these are affiliate links, and Paleo Leap isn’t associated with any of these app developers. The apps were chosen only because they seemed helpful, and the links are just there for your convenience.
Apps to Help With...Sleep
The most common complaint about smartphones is how great they are at disrupting normal sleep cycles with late-night bluescreen time and constant, snooze-disrupting notificaitons. That’s true, but they don’t have to be! You can also use your phone to help you sleep better. Even without a bracelet or any other kind of wearable tracker, there are plenty of apps to help you figure out your own sleep schedule and pick the best times to wake up for optimum rest. Some possibilities:
- Sleep as Android (Android)
- Sleep Cycle (Android and iOS)
- SleepBot (Android and iOS)
- Sleep Time (Android and iOS)
Apps to Help With...Workouts
Bringing your phone to the gym isn’t always a good idea – if it’s going to distract you or take the focus off your workout, leave it at home. Nobody wants to be the person “working out” on the stationary bike by turning the pedals once every 5 minutes because she’s too busy flicking between Facebook and Instagram.
On the other hand, there are also too many apps to mention that help you stay on top of your workouts, track your progress, get motivated to go to the gym, and learn correct form for the exercises you’re trying to do. Just a couple suggestions that you might find interesting:
- Strength training: here’s one specifically for the popular beginning strength training program Stronglifts 5x5 (Android, iOS). There are also apps for Starting Strength (Android, iOS) and almost all the other popular programs if you search.
- CrossFit specific apps: Beyond the Whiteboard (Android, iOS), WOD Tracker (Android only), myWOD (Android, iOS).
- HIIT and Tabata apps: Tabata Pro and Tabata Timer (both iOS only); Tabata timer (Android only)
- Running and cardio: RunKeeper (Android, iOS) does exactly what it says on the tin: it tracks your runs. Strava (Android, iOS) will do the same for biking.
- Workout generator apps: Sworkit (Android, iOS) lets you choose your body part and automatically creates bodyweight circuit training workouts.
Apps to Help With...Food Tracking
Food tracking is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great to have a food diary right in your pocket: it can help you stay motivated and keep yourself on track. But on the other hand, it’s very easy to go overboard with food tracking. If tracking everything you eat is stressing you out or making you afraid of food, it's not helping – especially if you’re counting calories (which you shouldn’t be).
For some people, that means that food tracking is completely out; it’s just not worth the stress. But other people do just fine with it, and if that’s you, here are some suggestions:
- PaleoViz (iOS only) helps you focus more on “eating Paleo” and less on “counting everything down to the gram.”
- MySymptoms (Android, iOS) lets you track diet and symptoms to identify which foods you might be sensitive to.
- Other generic food trackers include: MyFitnessPal (Android, iOS, and Windows Phone), FatSecret (Android, iOS, and Windows Phone), and Sparkpeople (Android, iOS)
Apps to Help With...Shopping and Cooking
Quick, what’s the best grocery list? It’s the one you won’t forget! You can have the most perfectly organized plan, but if you leave it at home and have to run on memory, you won’t be going very far.
That makes smartphones the ideal tool for meal planning, because we’re all in the habit of bringing them everywhere. We do it automatically: most people wouldn’t leave the house without their phone any more than they’d leave without their shoes. So smartphones have a built-in advantage for meal planning because they take away the pain of learning and remembering a new system for doing it. So here’s a breakdown of all kinds of Paleo-oriented shopping and meal planning apps.
“Is it Paleo?” apps
- io (Android, iOS): “Is it Paleo?” food search, recipes, and a quick 101.
- The Paleo List (Android, iOS): “Is it Paleo?” food search, with sources and reasons.
- Paleo Central (Android, iOS): A very basic but easy-to-use “Is it Paleo?” app.
The Wellness Mama app (iPhone only) and PaleoPlate (Android, iOS) have tons of recipes. And that’s just the start – there are way too many Paleo recipe apps to go through them all. And if you've got an iPad and not just an iPhone, you could also try the Nom Nom Paleo iPad app.
Other grocery shopping apps
- The Certified Humane app (Android, iOS) gives you one way to find animal products raised without cruelty (not all ethically-raised meat will show up on the app, but all the meat that shows up on the app is ethically raised).
- The Animal Welfare Approved app (Android, iOS) will help you decode meat labels on the go, so you know what really means something and what’s just marketing.
- For anyone on a low-FODMAP diet, the University of Monash has an app (Android, iOS) to help you find low-FODMAP foods.
- Just need a basic grocery list app? There are tons out there, but GroceryIQ (Android, iOS) will let you share with everyone in your family for easy meal planning.
Apps to Help With...Eating Out
Eating out can be a huge challenge, especially if you’re going somewhere on the spur of the moment and don’t have the time or the inclination to look up nutrition information first. But having the right app can make it a lot easier:
- KetoFinder (Android, iOS): for anyone trying low-carb.
- HealthyOut (Android, iOS) is a generic location app for all kinds of special diet requirements; you can easily set it to find Paleo-friendly food if you want.
- PaleoGoGo (Android, iOS) is a Paleo-specific app that helps you find healthy food at US chain restaurants.