TwoGrand: Reimagining the food journal, one photo at a time

Pictures trump calorie-counting on TwoGrand, a recent addition to the bastion of food and exercise tracking apps.

TwoGrand
A view of writer Maggie Fazeli Fard’s TwoGrand feed.

MyFitnessPal. LoseIt. Fitocracy Macros. Fitbit. Swipe through an app store and, chances are, you’ll find an app designed to track your nutrition or fitness. While their interfaces vary widely, most trackers are based on a simple concept: numbers.

Not TwoGrand.

The app, a recent addition to the growing bastion of mobile food and exercise trackers, doesn’t track miles, macronutrients, or even the calories its name alludes to. It logs photos of your food.

(RELATED: Who’s Counting? Why Quality Matters More than Calories)

“Ninety percent of food journaling’s effectiveness comes from the act of logging alone,” says TwoGrand co-founder Peter Simones. “Record your food intake and exercise, and you’ll become much more aware of your habits and tendencies. When we asked, ‘What’s the simplest way to journal? photos was the answer.”

(RELATED: Fitness 2.0: How Technology Can Help Improve Your Health)

The free app, which launched in 2013, has an Instagram-like feel, right down to the social component. Members can “follow” each other, and peruse one another’s meals, snacks, workouts, and progress pictures. The comments section beneath each pic has evolved into a space where members share recipes, exercise ideas, and support.

(RELATED: Group Effort: Get Support to Get Fitter)

While Simones now considers the community element a key part of the app’s success, the core concept behind TwoGrand — to make food-tracking as simple as possible — remains unchanged.

“Food is meant to be enjoyed,” he says. “No app should get in the way of that.” 

Experience Life | What does the name “TwoGrand” mean? Are you recommending that people follow a 2,000-calorie a day plan?

Peter Simones | The name TwoGrand is an allusion to the 2,000 calories per day standard, but not in the way you might think.

TwoGrand CEO Peter Simones (@Peter).

The “recommended daily value” approach seen on our nutrition labels makes sense in theory, but in execution fails because it’s always the same and we’re all different. The nutrition label symbolizes a lack of personalization — something we felt was characteristic of the consumer health industry as a whole.

So while the name TwoGrand creates a quick connection to existing and familiar nutrition standards, it also serves as a continual reminder of what we’re trying to improve upon. If 2,000 is the past and present, then TwoGrand can be the future — a personalized way forward.

EL | What is TwoGrand’s dietary philosophy?

PS | We have a strong nutrition philosophy, which is to not have a nutrition philosophy. This contrarian notion is core to almost everything we do.

Having an overarching nutrition philosophy means you’re advocating that everyone follow a system or defined set of rules. While this has been how the industry has operated for centuries, we don’t agree with it. Different routines work for different people. TwoGrand embraces this, and is designed to help you build the routine that best works for you. That’s the kind of routine that sticks.

EL What is the benefit of taking a picture? 

PS Would you rather type out each of your turkey sandwich’s seven ingredients, scroll through a list of 20 different turkey sandwiches, or simply take a photo and know that the sandwich you’re looking at was what you ate?

Plus, you can look at a single screen (without needing to scroll) and see a full day of meals, drinks, and exercise, in visual form. You can immediately identify what’s going well and what you’d like to improve.

EL A big part of TwoGrand is the community aspect — users, even people who have differing food and fitness philosophies, really seem to support each other.

PS Early on, some of the support stemmed from how we promoted “being real.” We want everyone to feel comfortable posting their chocolate and their alcohol because, let’s be real, those things are a part of our routines. We shouldn’t hide from it or suppress it. Support begets more support, and people who feel their journey has been aided by other folks want to return that support. It’s both infectious and motivating.

EL What makes community such an integral part of setting and reaching goals?

PS For some, the level of positivity is actually intimidating. They don’t expect the community to be a part of their experience, so it catches them by surprise. But once they ask a question and get a helpful response, or have someone leave words of encouragement on one of their meals, they start to see how beneficial the community can be.

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Maggie Fazeli Fard is Experience Life's staff writer. Find her on TwoGrand @maggiefazeli.

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