MyFitnessPal is Not Your Pal

MyFitnessPal is an app that I’m sure many people are aware of. I remember when I discovered it in the depths of my anorexia and it latched on to my illness, fed it and began to control my life alongside it. I think this app should be banned.

On MyFitnessPal you can put in your current weight and your goal weight, you can then find out the calories in almost every item of food simply by searching it and you can record almost everything in the diary. I would even count the ‘calories’ of my vitamin tablets on this app, every time something passed my lips it would get recorded, even glasses of water. I would spend the majority of the day engaging in eating disorder behaviours and recording it on this app. Then at the end of the day the diary would tell me how much I would weigh in five weeks time if my net calories were the same as that day. I was glued to MyFitnessPal, I panicked if it stopped working or if my internet connection went down. I needed it but I needed it for all the wrong reasons. It maintained my mental illness, how is that a good thing?

I am not alone in using MyFitnessPal with an eating disorder, I know hundreds of people who use MyFitnessPal and are battling an eating disorder of some kind. For so many people a milestone in their recovery is deleting the app. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any eating disorder, we may not hear about it much but people are dying from this! Why should an app that encourages this illness be allowed? If they renamed it “My Ana buddy” and it did the same thing as it does now, I can almost guarantee that it would be taken straight out of the app store.

There are some mobile phones that come with MyFitnessPal built in and you cannot delete the app. How dangerous is that? It is not normal to obsess over the calories you eat and the exercise you do in a day no matter what society tells you. Yes, a balanced diet is important. Yes, getting some exercise is important. No, spending all day on an app that takes over and controls your life and makes you preoccupied with food, exercise and weight is not okay.  Could this app actually be a factor in causing eating disorders?

MyFitnessPal is the top app in the ‘health and fitness’ category….health and fitness? There is NOTHING healthy about counting calories, recording your weight daily and your life revolving around numbers. I was not healthy or fit when I was obsessed with MyFitnessPal and if I ever bought a phone and couldn’t delete the app, I would be furious and worried for my well being. MyFitnessPal is not your pal, a pal should make you feel happy, confident and appreciate yourself, this app drove me to self-destruction and feeds so many people’s evil mental illnesses.

This isn’t just about those people who battle eating disorders, MyFitnessPal makes me angry because it implies to people that it will make them feel happy and good about themselves but happiness is not recording your calories every time you eat or adding a glass of water to the diary every time you drink. Happiness is being free, not being chained down by a money making app. Happiness is about memories, about being with people and appreciating your qualities and recognising your achievements. If you are seeking health and happiness, you will not find it in this app.

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13 thoughts on “MyFitnessPal is Not Your Pal

  1. good points. That said, as a recovered anorexic who now does a lot of sport, I find the app helpful in making sure that I have eaten enough and not mis-estimated what I have eaten, and trying to make sure it is fairly balanced

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  2. Good points. That said, as a recovered anorexic who now does a lot of sports, I actually find it helpful in making sure that I’m eating ENOUGH. I used to estimate my calories but this is more accurate and encourages me to eat more if necessary.

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  3. PREACH to ALL of this. My fitness pal has been/ sort of still is my eds security blanket and I know that I’m devesratingly far from being the only one. People are failing desperately to see how unhealthy, triggering and dangerous this app is, even if you don’t have an ED when you initially download it it can so easily become addictive and get out of control. It’s not rational or okay in any way to be congratulated on a starvation diet by an app masquerading as a top class ‘health and wellbeing’ roll. It’s not healthy either mental or physically, and gosh knows how many lives it’s ruined and how many disorders it’s still fuelling. it’s just horrific. Thankyou for so articulately putting all the mess of thoughts I’ve been thinking about this for an awfully long time- you’re an utter star. Love you. Xx

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  4. Yes! Preach this! I found a healthy community on there and i’ve found a way of using it in a healthy manner (i don’t log my intake but i use it as a community as i’ve found a gluten-free community being uable to consume gluten, and a community of those in recovery who comeny on my statuses). I may actually post this as a status on my account if that’s okay with you! It’s always so upsetting to see pro-ana individuals using it as a means of starving themselves, and/or people looking for validation at their sickest. It’s nice know to know that most people on there are educated about eating disorders though, and lead those with disorders in the right direction if they suspect/see that people display such behaviors. I’m really glad that you were able to recogonize it was an unheatlhy place and steer away from it. ❤ best of luck!

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  5. I agree with you 100%. I didn’t get very far with my Ana and BED, thankfully, because of my mom who felt with it as a kid and knew the signs. As I made progress with my depression and anxiety, deleting the app was HUGE from my recovery.

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  6. I agree with you to a certain exten, if used incorrectly, myfitnesspal can have a disastrous effect on a person. That said, myfitnesspal can actually help an eating disorder. I have been battling anorexia for a number of years, whenever I tried to recover, I just went back to old habits. This app allows you to set reminders to eat which I personally found to be very helpful. There is also an option that helps you stay the same weight. I used to be horrified of gaining weight, when recovering my goal was to not gain weight, nor lose weight but just stay the same as I was at that point. This was also helpful. If you exercise then you can allow yourself to eat a treat and not feel guilty about it because you know that you won’t gain weight. Overall, I think that if you use the app correctly it has the potential to be of enormous help.

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  7. I have used the app pretty religiously for nearly 4 years (with a 8 month gap when I took a sabbatical and travelled).

    I started using it to help me lose a little of my “winter timber” in the year I got married.

    Entering my food and drinks is a bit OCD, I will admit. And I record my weight most days. But I also put in all my exercise too.

    I don’t use it to religiously stick to a target calories on a day – happily will go out and end up entering a total double my target – but I have found its useful to track average consumption and weight.

    I run and cycle a lot – and it prompts me to make sure I easy enough on these days to not lose weight.

    Over this period I have managed my weight within a 10lb Trainline – periods like Christmas and Holidays will see me creep up, but then I know by being mindful of every in and out that I can bring it down.

    The app can be really helpful – though I do admit that for someone with ED it’s a potential minefield. But to ban it would be like banning all alcohol because of the minority of alcoholics?

    Having read this and a few other posts I am considering trying to “kick” the MyfitnessPal habit and see if I am aware enough now of what I eat that I don’t need it to control my diet successfully.

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  8. What I find so messed up is that my school made me do this. For a week in my seventh, eighth, and ninth grade health classes, my school had everyone in my class download and use the app. It was extra credit to log more than a week, too. Especially because the health teacher had to make us lie about our ages to even get on the site. Why? Because it’s made for people over 18, not impressionable kids who can easily be lead into obsessing over the idea of calories and how much they’ll make them gain or lose weight. In fact, after the assignment was over, I started obsessing over the app for at least a couple weeks until I finally had to shake myself and stop using it before it took over my life (I had a lot of disordered eating over that period of time, and this definitely never was going to help matters at all) It’s funny, they teach you all about eating disorders (at least my curriculum did) then lead you straight into the unhealthy thinking of one without questioning it at all, entirely obliviously. I do understand the thinking behind this, really. They wanted us to think about our nutrition and be more mindful of our food, but that isn’t the way to do it. I will say, one good thing about the app is that it has a built in system that will not let you eat under a certain number of calories. I once tried to put in the caloric amount of 750-ish for the full day and it wouldn’t let me move on to the next day because the amount was too low. I don’t know if this is a recent implement or not, but I think it makes the app a little less harmful, so it can’t be used by people restricting their calories under a certain amount. I still think this app can lead people down a dangerous path and should not be promoted so much, especially to vulnerable young people who may not realize that way of thinking is in healthy.

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  9. I agree. The community section is full of neurotic people, obsessing over going over calories on ONE day and weighing every lettuce leaf. All you ever hear is FOOD SCALE! and CICO!
    The Thanksgiving and XMAS anxiety is ridiculous. There’s talk of intermittent fasting, no carbs, no gluten, no dairy, no grains etc etc. This place is for mental illness.
    I also object to the water quotient. Water has nothing to do with weight loss it has no calories, so why mention it? All drinks are water based and theres nothing special about plain water. I said this on a thread and got non stop abuse for it and when I said what I really thought they all reported me.
    I think this app encourages and creates mental illness, OCD and EDs. I deleted my account pretty quickly as it’s not necessary, time consuming( even though I never weighed food as I couldn’t be bothered) and I lose weight just as well without it).
    I was warned by the moderators for criticising the app and it’s sick users.

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  10. You have made some really good points here! I have suffered from laxative abuse for coming up to 11 years now and bulimia and I’m still addicted to the app! I delete it on a weekly basis then download it again as I feel like I’ve lost control and I’ve ‘failed’. Am I alone in this? 😦

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