Have you ever been curious about what’s in that burger you’re about to bite in to? In general, I’d probably rather not know, but if you’re watching your waistline or concerned about the possibility of potentially serious medical problems, Restaurant Nutrition for the iPhone (FREE) could be the app for you. It provides nutritional information for 37 popular American restaurant chains, allowing you to browse a list of menu items from each.
The sheer volume of information stored in this app (which is kept locally, so network connectivity is not required) might seem intimidating, but good organization and accessible design makes it a simple and easy to use program. Upon launch, you’re asked to enter a user name, which can optionally be linked to an online account at the Personal Health Record online site. Linking your account can allow you to tie your information to a prescribed diet and health plan. Don’t worry if you don’t have a thePHRnetwork.com account, you can still use Restaurant Nutrition in standalone mode.
Clicking on any restaurant’s name brings up a list of general categories specific to each chain. For example, McDonald’s list contains things like “Beverages,” “Breakfast,” and “Sandwiches,” but not “Appetizers,” which you can find under “Chili’s” and other more sit-down type restaurants. Once in the “Sandwiches” sub-menu, I quickly navigated to the Quarter Pounder with Cheese entry, since that’s always been my go-to Mickey Dee’s burger. I was actually expecting far worse. The number of “Calories from Fat” was the most terror-inspiring figure.
From this screen, you can adjust the quantity of items to multiply the informational totals. You can also record the mean using two buttons at the bottom of the screen, specifying that you ate this either today or on a past date, and the meals are then recorded in the log attached to your profile. You can access your history from the button in the upper left corner of the home screen or from the bookmark icon on the bottom navigation bar. It’s organized by date, and lists the nutritional information for every food item you recorded for that day.
Overall, it’s a handy app, especially if you eat a lot while traveling or just love fast (and medium-paced) food. There’s multi-user support, and the item database is regularly maintained. You can download updates from within the app through the settings screen. Of course, it only tells half the story, since it only tracks the food you eat at the restaurants listed. If you’re concerned about your chain restaurant eating habits, this is good download, especially since it’s free, but if you want the total package, Restaurant Nutrition alone won’t cut it.