Mashable -- Women's health and fitness magazine Self launched its public beta of a mobile, text-based diet program Monday.
The Self Diet Tapper sends subscribers five texts per day to instruct them what and when to eat and drink, as well as exercise.
The diet, devised by a team of registered dietitians and fitness experts, isn't particularly strict or formal. It's more of a reminder system for healthy living, chiming in at key points of the day to tell participants to eat a high-protein breakfast so they don't reach for a doughnut at their 11 a.m. meeting, or to stay hydrated in the afternoons, says Self editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger.
"What's most appealing is that users will be in control so they can choose whether to act on the gentle tap," she says. "They don't have to think about any formal diet plan or second-guess themselves."
Subscribers can also log into self.com/diettapper to access a library of meal and workout suggestions to accompany the reminders. Self has devised and distributed numerous diet plans to its readers in the past, both in print and on the web.
The Conde Nast title was inspired to design a SMS-based program after research suggested that text message reminders can help in achieving health goals.
A study in the Archives of Dermatology showed that people who received a text message to wear sunscreen were 26% more likely to apply SPF. Another, published in British medical journal The Lancet, found that people who received motivational texts to help them quit smoking were twice as likely to have maintained that resolution six months later.
Self decided to offer the program via SMS instead of an app, to make it available to as many readers as possible — not just smartphone users. The service costs $2.99 per month and can be cancelled at any time.
We like the concept of the program, though for a monthly fee we'd expect it to be customizable. At the very least, the service should allow users to keep track of how well they're doing. Should Self develop a robust web and/or smartphone app — something more like Lose It!, for instance, but with SMS reminders, we'd be on it in a heartbeat.