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Click your way to a healthier way of eating with new food tracking app

Registered dietitian Sue Mah of Toronto is pictured in an undated photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

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Registered dietitian Sue Mah of Toronto is pictured in an undated photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

TORONTO - The creators of a new app want Canadians to click their way to healthier eating.

Developed by the Registered Dietitians at Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Get Enough Helper App keeps track of daily food intake according to the number of servings recommended by Canada's Food Guide.

Each day food servings are tracked with the free app, Dairy Farmers of Canada will donate $1 to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Osteoporosis Canada or the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada to a maximum of $50,000 per charity.

"Studies show that Canadians just aren't getting enough servings from specific food groups and as a dietitian I think it's so important for Canadians to eat well," says Sue Mah, who has a consulting company called Nutrition Solutions.

The Toronto-based registered dietitian theorizes there are several reasons Canadians might not consume the recommended number of servings each day from the four food groups designated under Canada's Food Guide — vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives.

"I think there's a lot of confusion around what a serving size is and then there's confusion around how many servings do I need," says Mah, one of the writers for Canada's Food Guide in 2007. "And it differs if you're a male or female and it depends on your age."

In the milk and alternatives group, for example, "one cup (250 ml) of milk counts as a serving of milk products, which everyone probably knows, but when it comes to yogurt a serving of yogurt is 175 grams or 3/4 of a cup and if you go to the grocery store often you get those smaller tubs of yogurt that are maybe 100 grams and so people mistakenly think, 'If I have one of these it counts as a serving,' but actually not. You need almost two of those," she says.

Manufacturers may make bagels or other bread products a little larger than the specified serving size. A serving of cereal is 30 grams (one ounce), but depending on the weight of the cereal, that could range from 125 ml (1/2 cup) for something like bran flakes up to 250 ml (1 cup) if the product is light and puffy.

Visuals on the app help to explain serving sizes: 250 ml (1 cup) of raw salad (without dressing) counts as a serving of vegetables and fruit and is about the size of a fist, 125 ml (1/2 cup) of vegetables is a serving and is about the size of a tennis ball, a single serving of cheese (50 g/1 1/2 oz) is about the size of two erasers, and a serving size of meat (75 g/2 1/2 oz) is about the size of a deck of cards.

The Get Enough Helper App can be downloaded free for iPhone or Android platforms in English or French. It takes a few clicks to set up your profile with age, gender and your chosen charity. When you save what you've consumed each day, Dairy Farmers of Canada donates $1 on your behalf to your charity.

Participants get daily tips, a weekly progress report and recipes.

Follow @lois_abraham on Twitter.

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Online:

Get Enough Helper App: GetEnough.ca/App

Canada's Food Guide: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php

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