Remember when you were growing up and your parents always used to say things to you like, “if you fall down, get right back up!” or “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”? The Noom app is pretty much that parent for all of us at this point. We are 60 days into Noom, and every single one of us has had some big life event or “fall” that has made us go wayward with the app. Noom actually has an entire term for this, they call it slips and surges, and boy are we slippin’! (More on that later!)
Noom has never marketed themselves as a diet application and personally, I think that is a pretty fair assessment. They encourage lifestyle changes through psychology-based lessons that help you to retrain your brain about the way you think and approach food. Everything they say and promise on their website sounds great (and super scientific and fancy sounding), but how does this translate to real life?
If you haven’t read our 30 Day Review, I urge you to check that one out as well. You will notice we were all cautiously optimistic, but also had some very valid concerns. Most of us also had some issues using and learning the app and we had hoped that after an additional month of use, those issues would resolve themselves. Let’s dive into those and talk about whether they did or not.
Logging our food on the Noom app is a really big sticking point for a lot of us. We feel Noom could really benefit from a major overhaul in this area, and would help all of us be more engaged. Here are multiple examples of what we are talking about.
One of my biggest frustrations with how Noom categorizes food is its calorie-based approach. For example, as a vegetarian, on any given day, my meals include chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds to help me meet my protein and fiber daily values. Well, according to Noom, these are “red” foods or foods you’re supposed to eat “in moderation.” In reality, I know chia seeds and hemp seeds can be incredibly healthy and great additions to any diet!
The meal logging process, the discrepancies with nutritional facts, and the fact that I can’t customize my exercise calories burned are some of the biggest issues with the app now.
And she is not alone…
"I’ve actually stopped logging my food as it was becoming cumbersome and not something that seemed to actually be helping me change my eating patterns. If I made a dinner with 10 ingredients I would have to add each individual ingredient in order to get an accurate calorie and color count. When I would just add the entire meal as a whole, it usually came out extremely skewed."
"I’ve also had a few issues with food matching up. I ate a snack bag of chips one day (yea, I know….red food), and the information on the snack bag did not match with the info within the Noom app."
"Another time I scanned the barcode of my Trader Joe's oatmeal and it told me that barcode belonged to a slim fast shake. These small, but irritating issues made me give up on logging it all together."
"Noom’s color system—a unique feature that I personally really enjoy—can get confusing. Here’s my attempt at logging Starbucks’ Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. Depending on which item you select from the search results, the cold brew is either a green, yellow, or red food!"
"Another example, look at the calories for a mini banana versus a regular banana. A regular banana is 105 calories, but according to Noom a mini banana (which is about half the size of a regular one) is 110 calories. A quick internet search reveals that it should be about 55 calories."
"I could only handle so many frustrating hiccups, and eventually, food logging became a chore rather than a rewarding experience. Without a feeling of accomplishment or mastery, I’ve felt less and less inclined to log my food. My almost perfect food logging attendance during my first 30 days dropped to logging roughly one meal per day by the end of 60 days."
"When I log my foods, sometimes I have to play around with which item I am choosing if there are multiple versions of that food. For example, one morning I got a fruit and protein smoothie from a really healthy smoothie place that only uses organic fruits and veggies (and charges an astronomical price for it!), and I know that's a green food. When I searched "strawberry protein smoothie" though, there were multiple options with some being green, yellow, and even a few reds. I wish when we were logging foods (specifically foods made from other foods), there was more information beyond calories, so we knew which one to select (for example, including at least a snippet of the ingredients list for that item would make it easier to match up what I ate to what I should log)."
As you can see, nearly every single one of us has had issues with logging our food. As a lot of what Noom talks about is making the right food choices, this should be the highlight of the app and not a frustrating experience. The options are all over the place and there are large discrepancies. You really can’t have entire lessons on which foods are green, yellow, and red unless you are able to sync the food logging section with the correct colors as well. Nothing is more annoying than knowing you are eating a healthy, green meal (because the Noom lessons told you they were) only to then log a yellow or red food.
Coach and Group
When you sign up for a Noom subscription, you also get access to an online health coach, as well as a group where you can chat with other Noom users. There have been some discussions both within our MSA community and outside reviews we have read where users wonder if the coaches are actual people. Noom promises they are, but not everyone in our group is convinced. However, on the flip side of that, one of our reviewers, Nancy, has had a great experience with her coach:
"On the bright side, my goal coach has been great. During the first month of Noom, I didn’t need much support from her. When my motivation for food logging slowly waned, though, she has been super helpful for keeping me accountable to my food goals. Even if I wasn’t counting all my calories or reading my five minutes’ worth of courses, our weekly check-ins made me feel like I’m making progress."
We also noticed that not a single one of us used or benefited from the group feature. In fact, many of us thought it was a useless feature and the time and energy spent on that could have been placed elsewhere. Geraldine sums it up for how most of us feel about the group feature:
"As far as the group chat, that’s perhaps the one feature I see no value at all. Every other day, I receive some group messages that are not related to me or make no sense. I simply ignore them."
Slips and Surges
Ok, now on to these slips and surges we mentioned earlier. Or more accurately... just slips. It seems as if almost every one of us is in what Noom likes to call a “slip”.
For some reason, I can’t help but think of the chutes and ladders game here that I used to play as a kid. Just as you were making progress, you hit a slide and had to find the ladders again. Noom’s app is like a real-life version of this kid’s game, but a lot harder and a lot more work!
At the core of what Noom is trying to make everyone understand here is that it's ok to slip. And there will be many on your health journey. The important part is not that you slipped, but it’s how you react afterwards that matters. I applaud Noom here for this and wish they actually talked about it more within the app (albeit with less of the awkward “Noomisms” they like to throw in). Noom is the culmination of so many lessons we learned growing up. Lessons that many of us seemed to have forgotten as we got older. It’s kind of nice to hear them again, but in a more modern way.
The problem however is that our lives are messy and busy and just downright complicated. Not to mention each one of us is facing something entirely different than the person next to us. Noom’s overslimpistic view on our experiences has left many of us wanting a more personalized one.
"Many of their suggestions and tips on how to handle certain situations are just not things that I deal with on a daily basis. For example, they talk a lot about what to do in work/office situations or what to do when you go out with friends after work. I don’t work in an office and I’ve got two kids...what is going out!?"
"There’s been a flurry of work and personal life travel for me, which has definitely impacted my routine. I have not been grocery shopping or in a regular fitness schedule while traveling."
"I wish there was a way to alert the app that I’m traveling. Maybe they could give me tips or travel food hacks?"
Now, we understand that this isn’t fair to expect Noom to be able to cater to every single person's life experiences. But in just our small group of reviewers, we all wished it was more personalized due to different life events that popped up. As Salina mentions in her 60 day personal review, maybe a simple “I’m traveling button” would be beneficial. That way it could alert her coach to remind her to drink more water due to planes dehydrating you faster.
For me, it has to do more with having kids. There was actually a lesson that really resonated with me recently and it said that the majority of people spend 47% of their time either thinking about the past or the future. Say what!? 47%!? That little tidbit actually came at the exact time I needed to hear it. I had been annoyed with myself for letting something happen that shouldn’t have. It wasn’t anything huge, but it was something that irked me enough that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Reading that reminder really caused me to stop and think about it and focus myself more on the present.
So, then what’s the problem you ask? The problem came a couple slides later when Noom suggested using meal time as a time to be in the present and become a “mindful eating master.” It was great advice... for someone without kids. Would I love to remove all distractions, engage my senses, and chew my food? Well, yes absolutely. But all I could do was laugh, because our meals consist of two boys fighting and annoying each other, followed by “Mom, I don't like this” or “Mom, so-and-so spilled their drink!” Meal times downright suck in our household right now, and I would love it if Noom could recognize that and had tips for getting past it. I mean, we can’t be the only ones with that problem, right!?
These little changes within the Noom app could be small, but with just those tiny personalizations, we felt it would really help keep us more engaged.
Ok, so this is a big one and a topic that needs to be taken seriously. As we mentioned in our 30-day review, we had heard that Noom has unfortunately triggered unhealthy habits and behaviors in some users. (I want to stress some here, because this is not always the case.) While Noom has not created any for us, it has tiptoed very close to that edge.
"I haven’t felt that Noom has garnered any unhealthy habits for me. But, I also refuse to weigh myself daily (I prefer to go off how my clothes fit rather than the weight on the scale). I actually chose not to partake in that part of Noom because I was afraid that it would make me too preoccupied with my weight."
"One thing is for sure: Noom has made me overthink my weight more than any other weight loss program I’ve been part of – and not in a good way. I have to check in every day and log in my weight, foods, and water intake; it feels a bit too invasive. I think I’m constantly judging myself and beating myself down for not seeing progress. It’s been really eye-opening. Before Noom, while I was aware of my pandemic weight, it wasn’t really a negative feeling; it was just something I knew I had to attend."
One of our reviewers, Nancy, does not personally have any issues with the app creating bad habits herself, but does feel that it may not be right for anyone that has experienced unhealthy habits or behaviors in the past.
"I can see how Noom might not be a good fit for some people. For example, Noom wants its users to do daily weigh-ins. Research shows that weighing yourself every day can help increase the success of weight loss. However, the app doesn’t address other problems that might underlie a person’s difficulties with daily weigh-ins... perhaps poor body image, or mood and anxiety concerns, or feeling guilty about food, or feeling demotivated when the numbers don’t go down as fast as you’d like, or even vulnerability to eating disorders. Instead, the app assumes that a few motivational quotes and enough scientific knowledge under your belt should quell any uncertainties."
The Results So Far
Ok, so we know many of you came to this review to see if Noom actually works. Because, at the end of the day, sure there may be issues with Noom, but if it works then sometimes we just need to suck it up right? Well, let's see if that's the case. Out of 5 reviewers, two of us have seen positive changes to our weight and three of us are stagnant. Now to be fair, one of those reviewers, Jessica, was very sick, so we will check back in with her for the 90 day final review and see how she got along then. But she did have this to say about her positive experiences with the app so far:
"Halfway through October, I met the exercise minutes goal my Apple watch set for me, and I was pretty stoked. Noom syncs with my Apple watch so they know the steps I get in, and each time I meet their step goal, they increase the goal by a small amount. I like that approach, and I am cautiously optimistic that after 90 days of Noom I will be able to combine the food knowledge I learn from the app with moving my body more for some tangible results."
Ok, so let’s go to the positive results!
"I am still hovering between 148-152 pounds, which I think is a success because I have been eating out so much. The fact that the app kept me conscious of what I was eating is a win. For example, I was most recently at a conference for a week. The day I arrived into town, I stopped by a Trader Joe's that was a 20-minute drive away from the hotel. I picked up oatmeal packets, bananas, apples, and cucumbers to make sure I was getting some Green foods in me. I feel like the app had me trying more than I would normally."
"And the results speak for themselves! Noom’s ambitious plan was to help me reach 118 lbs in two months. I recall feeling cautiously optimistic about their timeline. Two months in, I haven’t hit my goal weight, not to my surprise. However, the progress is fantastic! Weight fluctuations remain a mainstay and that is a-okay. The fact that I am seeing numbers on the scale that I haven’t seen in years is promising. Plus, the changes I’ve made to my food habits have been sustainable—doubly promising."
These are fantastic results and we can’t wait to see how Salina and Nancy finish out their 90 days. As for myself and Geraldine, we haven’t had the same experience. In fact, neither of us have lost any weight whatsoever, but that could also go back to how we are feeling about the app overall.
So, 60 days down, 30 to go! We all will be giving this one last strong push and really diving back into the app to see how we fair. Who knows, maybe we all come out loving it or maybe we all will flip-flop on our opinions. This journey has definitely been different for all of us and by the end of it, we should be able to give you a solid, honest review, so you can see if it's right for you.
Have you tried Noom yet? What do you think of it?