Nowadays it’s common to check your smartwatch or phone for confirmation that you’ve taken enough steps or eaten the right number of calories on a given day. But while tracking apps and devices can be helpful motivators for many, they are not right for everyone. Taking a numbers-focused approach to health – defining it in terms of calories, steps, and pounds or kilograms – can detract from the inherent pleasures of eating well and being active. For some, it can provoke anxiety and even cause danger. There is evidence, for example, that using a tracking device exacerbates symptoms of eating disorders. Instead of zeroing in on numbers, it may be better to self-monitor in a more intuitive way and from a wider perspective, evaluating eating patterns and activities based on how they make you feel and whether they contribute to your long-term goals. Luckily, you can now enlist your smartphone to help you do that, too. Here are three e-tools designed to help you reach your wellness goals more mindfully. 1. Am I hungry? This is a “virtual coach” app developed by author and doctor Michelle May and is designed to help you eat more mindfully and less emotionally. It takes you through a set of questions, guiding you to respond to your internal hunger cues and examine other feelings, such as stress or boredom, that may be driving you to eat. New app tells you how much salt is in that quick meal you just bought in Hong Kong The app is very rudimentary, with none of the sleek graphics and hi-tech interactive elements of the others on this list, but the line of self-inquiry it establishes can be powerfully effective. In fact, it is similar to a system I used with my clients when I was in private practice, and that many dietitians continue to use. When you click the “I want to eat” button on the opening screen, you are guided through a decision tree of sorts to help you determine why, when, what and how much you want to eat. Built-in tools, such as a 10-point hunger-fullness rating scale and lists of strategies to help if you are reaching for food without feeling physically hungry, help you along the way. With practice, this way of tapping into and heeding your internal cues becomes second nature, and this app, which costs US$2.99, can help get you there. Good for: those seeking to move away from emotional and impulsive eating towards more mindful, self-nurturing food choices. 2. Recovery Record Designed as an eating disorder recovery app, it can be an effective tool for anyone seeking a better relationship with food and body. Based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy, it enables you to monitor what you eat and the feelings associated with it, uncover unwanted behaviours, such as skipping meals or bingeing, and develop skills to cope with them – establishing regular meal patterns and tactics for overcoming unwanted urges, for example. The 7 best walking apps for people who hate fitness apps You can use it on your own, but the app creators strongly encourage linking your account with your health care provider, such as a dietitian or psychologist, for optimal care. You set goals and snap pictures of your food to enter it into your log and then click to answer questions about how the meal made you feel, who you ate with, where you ate, etc. This app also helps with issues around disordered eating, addressing ways to manage triggers and urges, improve body image and suggestions for self-care, such as breathing and visualisation exercises. With each log entry, the app also asks whether you’ve restricted yourself, binged or had the urge to do so. The app is free to individual users; the company charges clinicians and health organisations for using it with their patients. Good for: those recovering from an eating disorder or struggling with food and body image issues. 3. Insight Timer This is another app that may help you on your quest to eat more mindfully and live better. It offers a library of thousands of guided meditations addressing an array of wellness concerns, from sleeping better to dealing with anxiety. I entered “mindful eating” into the app’s search function and was led to a vast array of free guided meditations, lasting from three to about 30 minutes, with that. I listened to several and liked some instructors very much, while others grated on me almost immediately. There is such a wide variety of classes to choose from on this app, you are bound to find some that suit you. You can upgrade to receive access to a wide selection of more in depth 10-session courses, plus other features such as offline listening and advanced audio features. (US$59.99 annually; there is a seven-day free trial for the premium upgrade). In the free app there are charts where you can track the meditations you have completed and the time you have spent meditating, and a social platform where you can connect with instructors and other users. Good for: those seeking to cultivate a more mindful approach to wellness overall.