CARROT Hunger: Better health through insults and bribes

CARROT Hunger Calorie Tracking App

It's that time of year when people are already breaking their New Year's Resolutions to lose weight. Well, it helps if you have someone - or something - yelling at you to watch your calories and get off your keister. For me, the just-released CARROT Hunger (free with in-app bribes and purchases) might be just the iPhone app to keep me on the straight and narrow while trying to watch my calories.

CARROT Hunger is part of the stable of apps from developer Grailr LLC that use a snarky artificial intelligence construct named CARROT to give you ... motivation? ... in the form of insults, promises of physical distress, attempted bribes, and more. Think of CARROT as Siri - a Siri that really, really hates you.

The fun starts when you first launch the app and it says "Greetings, meatbag" as a way of charming you. A short survey helps you build a profile (yeah, I'm classified as a "senior citizen" thanks to CARROT) so that it can be your official calorie arbiter. Based on your activity level or lack thereof, CARROT assigns you a daily calorie limit so that you can lose weight at a rate of one pound per week. By the way, you can select stone or kilograms as your preferred weight measure if you like.

Now comes the fun. You get to start recording your caloric intake item by item. CARROT provides a big button for you to push to enter each food item. You can search a database for a specific type of food (i.e., "pepperoni pizza") or even scan labels to get exact caloric information per serving. Having used - and recently discarded - the Weight Watchers app, I was amazed that the CARROT database included items that Weight Watchers did not.

As your day goes along and you stuff your gullet with food, the CARROT screen - initially blue - fills with green "water" as your skeleton avatar begins to gain weight. Get above your daily limit and the screen turns red... For each item that you enter, CARROT tells you how much exercise you're going to have to engage in if you want to burn it off.

While all this is happening, you're getting verbally abused by the CARROT AI, and also seeing on-screen ads - this IS a free app, remember? Well, fortunately most of those ads are fun fake ads that are actually worth clicking just to see what hilarity the Grailr programmers came up with. Some are real, and you can make a $3.99 "Ad Crusher" in-app purchase to turn 'em all off.

To speed up entry of your gluttonous habits, Grailr also sells a $1.99 "Ruthless Efficiency Collection" that allows multiple entries to be made one after the other and gives you access to a bar showing your recent entries (BTW, some of those recent entries are really funny fakes - like "Blue Bantha Milk" and "Tribble").

My favorite in-app purchase is the $0.99 "Bribe", which is exactly what it sounds like. You can assuage your guilt for going over your daily calorie count by spending a buck, after which CARROT will let you log an item in your food diary, but won't count the calories towards your daily limit.

You can also enter activities to reduce the impact of endlessly shoving empty calories into your piehole. Did you know that "sitting quietly" for 15 minutes will burn 22 calories?

All in all, this app is exactly what I was looking for - it makes tracking calories fun, while the Weight Watchers Mobile app that I used to use was too much like work. If you're struggling to lose weight, perhaps you'll get the last laugh with CARROT Hunger. Highly recommended for all of us who like our food and beverages too much.