Figwee Portion Explorer creates an interactive experience for tracking serving size and nutrition

by Kathryn Swartz

Figwee Portion Explorer is a mouthful to say, and its icon won't be the most elegant on your springboard, but the content in this app is extremely helpful in teaching proper portion control and aiding calorie counters. An offshoot of Figwee.com, the universal iDevice app, offers nutrition details and corresponding photos for most foods you can think of.

When you launch the app, you'll see a bunch of scrollable food thumbnails. These are just the tip of the iceberg so don't get discouraged if you don't immediately see what you're looking for. To find a food, users can search for items based on name, like steak or popcorn; by meal, like snack or breakfast; or even by brand or restaurant name.

Every food item includes nutritional information, including stats like calories, fat, carbs, sodium and protein. You'll also see the portion size, along with the ounces and grams that correspond with the NI. Here's where Figwee gets neat: On top of the photo is a slider bar. Move it up or down to increase or decrease the portion size. The amount of food on the standard-size dinner plate will change accordingly as will the present NI. This is a spectacular service, allowing users to closer guesstimate the portion size on their plate, especially when in a dining-out situation. The default photo is shot overhead, but an alternate side version is also available (so you can see how high the food rises on the plate). Even if you aren't currently eating, you can use the app as an educational tool to brush up on what one serving of pasta actually looks like (none of that "size of your fist" stuff, here).

Be sure to pay attention to the serving size at the top of the screen, because it doesn't always match the photo, as you'd think. When looking at pepperoni pizza (regular crust), the serving indicated once slice, but the photo displays two pieces. Based on the calories, I believe it to be one regular slice cut in half, but this would be a good time to rely on a food scale to compare grams. Figwee does require an Internet connection to access its database, so plan accordingly.

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