High-Tech Weight Loss
Do electronic devices and services designed to help you drop pounds actually work? The experts weigh in
A number of new software titles have emerged to help keep various aspects of
your weight loss regime on track.
How it works: These programs vary widely, ranging from
providing simple nutritional data -- like calorie counts, nutrient breakdowns,
and meal planning -- to sophisticated tracking of both dieting and fitness
goals. Some also offer meal suggestions, exercise regimens, and daily progress
reports. Many also work in PDAs.
The cost: Average cost is $35-$49
What the experts say: "By using software to track your
progress over time, you can see your accomplishments in print, which can be
highly motivating," says Sandon. As with food journals, Sandon says, these
computer programs also raise awareness about eating habits.
Bottom line: As long as they don't dramatically increase
the time you spend sitting in front of your computer (instead of outdoors
moving about), these programs can provide incentive, motivation, and good
information that works with most any diet program.
Automatic Portion Control
It's not the newest diet gadget, but it might be the most useful: A
vacuum-sealing device that lets you create pre-measured, individual portions of
How it works: You fill specially sized plastic bags with
single portions of your favorite treats or meals. Then, you insert the end of
the bag into the device, which sucks the air out and seals it shut. Pop it in
the freezer to use later, or toss it in a handbag, briefcase, or lunchbox, for
an instant portioned treat that won't break your calorie budget.
The cost: Rival Seal A Meal, with extra bags and storage
canisters -- about $49 (also available are pre-divided plates that can be
filled and sealed, so you always know the right proportions of veggies, meat,
and grains). Deni Fresh Lock Vacuum Sealer -- about $30.
What the experts say: "Anything that helps with portion
control, anything that draws attention to the size of what we are eating, or
keeps you from eating too much, is a very good thing," says Sandon.
Bottom line: If you just can't stop dipping into the cookie
jar or candy dish, this is like discipline in a bag. (Hint: If you seal the
bags twice, it makes them really hard to open -- a stronger snacking