Tweeting what you eat is a fun way to learn about food and watch your weight

Do fudge brownies gobbled with your head in the fridge count? After all, if nobody sees you, it’s okay to discount the calories, right?

Sigh. Not anymore. Thanks to Twitter (the micro-blogging service that’s captivating much of the online world) and the kaleidoscope of imaginative applications it’s inspiring, it’s becoming next to impossible to live your life under a veil of convenient secrecy.

While Twitter might be dramatically revolutionising business, politics and pop culture by changing the way people share information, it’s also creating all kinds of upheavals in the world of food.

One genre of applications are changing the way people cook, dine out and eat by enabling users from the across the world to share pictures and information on their every meal. Since twitter is so democratic, it means that anyone anywhere can post a picture of anything they want anytime. Which — as you can imagine — leaves a lot of room for experimentation, pushing boundaries and plain goofing off.

An application like Nom.ms, for instance, which encourages users to tweet pictures and a couple of lines of text on every thing they eat is fascinating for so many reasons. The most obvious, of course, is that for foodies it’s a fun way to learn about food, ingredients and recipes, by seeing how people around the world eat. User Trendy, for instance, had Angel hair pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. She cooked it with red banana peppers, onions, green beans and shrimp. She’s also addicted to what she calls the ‘Everything but the kitchen sink cookies’ — “My dad gets ‘em from the farmers’ market — they’re amazing. Oatmeal, milk and white chocolate, macadamia nuts, walnuts, raisins...” Talk about getting a real, unbeatably immediate and artlessly evocative slice of life!

Of course there’s the danger of getting overly inspired, and eating your way into an obnoxiously large pair of jeans. Enter TweetWhatYouEat.com (TWYE), an inventive way to keep yourself honest using the convenience of twitter. Which brings us back to you brazenly scoffing fudge brownies with your head in the fridge. (Yes, I’m talking to you.)

An online food diary, TWYE, enables you to enter everything you eat instantly, making it extremely difficult to cheat. Alex Ressi, founder and lead developer of the application, says the site has more than 8,000 followers, 30 per cent of whom post regularly. He says that it’s the accessibility of twitter, “being able to post updates from your IM, mobile phone or the web,” that drew him to the platform.

To make calorie counting easier, the application even has a ‘CrowdCal system’. Alex says this is the Internet’s first completely crowd-sourced calorie database. When active, it auto-fills food entries with the appropriate calorie value based on what other users in the community have entered. It’s an ingenious way to cover a huge variety of foods from every country.

Of course, since this is twitter, the biggest impetus comes from the community. People clearly find it easier to diet with a supportive group — even if it consists of people across the world who they’ve never met. The forum is alive with everything from cries of help (“pineapple upside-down cake. Anyone has alternatives?”) to shrieks of despair. (“I’m sorry — but there is NO SUBSTITUTION for McDonald’s Medium French Fries when you’re stressed!”)

“People need to be able to share in their success and lean on others,” says Alex, adding that they’ve had some inspiring weight loss stories. “I’ve had people write in and share stories about 20 pound, 40 pound and the most dramatic — a 70 pound weight loss using the Tweet What You Eat tool and working in conjunction with a nutritionist.”

Besides, it’s encouraging to feel that you’re not the only one with so little self-control. Take “Heyimskye” whose bio states she’s “losin weight one fat cell at a time.” She began yesterday with “salad with romaine lettuce.” A little later comes the entry: “mini muffin you will be the death of me!”

Now where’s that fudge brownie?

Keywords: TWYETwitterdiet