I think about food. So much so that the activity ought to be a calorie-burning one. Wishful thinking, no?
My penchant for thinking about food is inextricably linked to my passion for eating it. To compensate, I try to dine healthfully — lots of produce and protein-packed legumes in a mostly vegetarian diet.
Of course, that resolve is tested when eating at restaurants, another of my favorite pastimes. Enter HealthyOut, an app that promises to help you find healthful dishes in more than 500 cities across the country.
The app allows you to choose from nutritional preferences — whether it be restricting gluten, calories and sodium, or following diets, such as Atkins, South Beach or Zone.
Searches work in two ways: a “quick results” method suggests restaurants or dishes based on your preferences; a “search menu” function lets you specify additional parameters, such as calories, cuisine, ingredients, type of dish and delivery, take out or dine in.
HealthyOut earns plaudits for an attractive interface. The app is easy to navigate. The text is crisp and clear. There are even cute icons to represent ingredients diners may want to select.
The results are somewhat less exciting. First, in no way is the restaurant inventory all-encompassing. My search for vegetarian Indian and Mediterranean fare near my house left out a number of options I’m familiar with. (The HealthyOut team is responsible for adding dishes to the app, with some input from members.) However, I came across some restaurants I’d never heard of. I was intrigued enough by the tandoori tofu at one spot to save the dish, another useful feature for bucket-list or forgetful types.
I was also disappointed that so many of my results were salads (thankfully, there’s a “not a salad” option).
Calorie counts are mostly limited to chain restaurants, which I rarely visit. Dish descriptions at non-chains are hit-or-miss. The label for one Indian restaurant indicated it was in Richmond, while the in-app listing had the correct Falls Church address. And at least one place in my results closed earlier this year.
I realize that it’s hard to expect everything in an app based on such moving targets as restaurants to be accurate. And HealthyOut is trying: An e-mail to users indicated it would soon contain more calorie and nutrition information, as well as more dishes. But for now I’ll probably stick to my time-honored habit of perusing menus online.
OPERATING SYSTEM: iOS; Android
CREATOR: HealthyOut Inc.
USER RATINGS: Apple, (1,550 ratings); Google Play, (535 reviews)
REVIEW’S BOTTOM LINE: Useful for discovering restaurants and dishes you may not be familiar with; less useful as a comprehensive guide for healthy dining.