09/10/2013 08:28 am ET Updated Nov 10, 2013

Do You Really Want Your Friends or Coworkers Looking at Your Food Diary?

By Scott Mowbray, editor of Cooking Light

Part of the deal on the Cooking Light Food Lover's Social Diet, as I'm pompously calling this little effort, is that the MyFitnessPal and UP apps share progress with friends (or, in my case, with the board of advisors). At least they do if you allow that sharing. Folks can see not just whether you made your calorie goal today, but also exactly what you ate that led you to succeed or overshoot the mark. They see whether you ate 1,600 calories of balanced whole foods or stopped by Hardee's at midnight for a Thickburger and shake (not that any of us have done that).

I can go into Erin Clinton's diary and see that she had fat-free Chobani yogurt for breakfast, along with some Kashi cereal and nonfat milk, for a total of 278 calories -- and also that she walked 27,000 steps, which is halfway from New York City to Buffalo, I think. However, until five minutes ago she could not see that I ate two
slices of 100-percent whole-grain bread with a tablespoon of American Spoon sour cherry preserves and a teaspoon of butter for, coincidentally, an identical 278 calories. Her breakfast had more protein (from the yogurt) and was probably better balanced.  

I basically felt shamed into sharing my diary: If Erin's sharing, don't I have to? But it creeps me out a little bit. One person considering joining our effort said she was simply too private -- both regarding food and fitness -- to possibly share.

But, of course, a food diary is like any other diary that you know will be read by others: You can always lie to it. So far, the UP band does not contain a lie-detector algorithm... but I'm sure that's coming. 

Have you used social apps to track weight loss? Comment here, email, and tweet @ScottMowb or @Cooking_Light using #SocialDiet.

Note: This post originally appeared on the Cooking Light blog, Simmer & Boil. Check in on their progress at

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