For the 200 calories in half of that blueberry muffin, you could eat more than a pint of blueberries. That’s a lot of blueberries! And that’s entirely the point of Calorific, an iOS app by interaction designers Nic Mulvaney and Tim Diacon. It shows you what 200 calories looks like in 144 properly portioned food and drink photographs.
So in essence, Calorific a slide show. You swipe right to see another 200 calories in another food. That’s 75% of a sprinkled donut. That’s half a filet of battered and fried cod. That’s two pieces of multigrain bread. And that’s a farm’s worth of celery. You quickly realize that 200 calories varies wildly from one food item to the next, but as you’d expect, fruits and veggies give you the best bulk for your buck.
Having recently gone vegan, I had a tough time stomaching the app’s conceit. Its tacit thesis becomes “bigger is better,” but for many of us, more bulk per calorie isn’t necessarily the healthiest approach to nutrition. I often turn to calorie-dense foods like nuts and seeds in meals and snacks, because each day is a focused quest to eat the right balance of amino acids. I went vegan because my highest health risk is cholesterol, not how many calories I consume or how much I weigh. The app doesn’t account for such individual health considerations.
That’s not to say that Calorific is bad. It’s powerful to see all of the foods we eat filtered through a single metric. But if you’re not counting calories, I imagine this visualization could make you super-paranoid about what you eat. I’d like to see the team behind Calorific take the idea further, offering ways to view food through sugar, fiber, protein (and amino acids), vitamins, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants–heck, maybe the team could even capitalize on a more subjective idea like fullness.
If you’d like to try Calorific, the app is free for iOS download, but to unlock all the images, you’ll have to spend up to $3.
[h/t: ABC News]