Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New iPhone App Helps You Pick Your Groceries

Reading nutrition labels can sometimes feel like reading another language. You might feel like you're back in elementary school French class. Sure, you might recognize some of the terms, you've heard lots about them and you know when it's appropriate to use them - but left to your own devices in the grocery store, you might feel like you're on foreign exchange (or in some strange food jungle). Nutritionists and dietitians know this, and this is one major challenge in getting people to eat right - how can you know what foods and products are right for you, never mind actually obtaining and consuming them if you can't navigate your way around the store? Thankfully, at the risk of sounding completely cliche, there's an app for that.

CarrotLines is a new app for iPhones that allows it's user to input their specific nutrition needs, concerns and medical conditions, and then acts as a personal gatekeeper to choosing the right foods. The app turns your iPhone into a barcode scanner, which lets you know if the products you scanned 'fit' with your personal profile and requirements. You can even include allergies and lifestyle choices like being vegetarian, kosher or halal.

Say for example, your doctor advises you to eat foods low in sugar and high in fibre because you have a family history of diabetes. Scan a product with your phone and CarrotLines will let you know if the particular product is appropriate for people with or at risk of diabetes. Obviously you have to know a little bit about what is good or bad for you with this condition in order to select products to scan in the first place, or else you might be in the store for quite some time scanning a variety of products, however it's always reassuring to get that stamp of approval in the end!

For those of us without an iPhone, we're just going to have to take that extra ten minutes to learn what to look for before heading to the store, in addition to actually deciphering those nutrition labels on site. Just think of it as an 'immersion' experience - before you know it, you'll be fluent.