Canadian App Promotes Gluten-Free Shopping, Seeks Crowdfunding

Any Canadian with dietary restrictions knows that grocery shopping can be a nightmare. From losing weight to controlling blood sugar, maintaining a healthy diet can be complicated.

Luckily, mobile technology is finding ways to make managing dietary health issues a lot easier.

Two Edmonton sisters are hoping that their new app, called GlutenGuru, will take the guesswork out of shopping for people with Celiac disease. Jodie Costello and Melanie Nathan designed the app to help users easily find gluten-free products in grocery stores. The app was inspired by Costello’s son, who has both Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes.

With the GlutenGuru app, consumers will be able to scan common food products to obtain a list of ingredients. The goal of the app, say the creators, is to help customers find gluten-free products without doing a lot of prior research. Costello and Nathan plan to work closely with Edmonton app developer Sean Healy to make their project as user-friendly as possible.

“The GlutenGuru iPhone app will take the time and risk out of gluten-free shopping. By allowing the user to scan the ingredients of food items, our app will determine FOR them, if the item is safe to consume,” they say on their website.

The GlutenGuru campaign on Indiegogo has under two weeks left to go, and the sisters are hoping to raise $20,000. While they plan to initially develop GlutenGuru for iOS, they intend to port it to Android devices at a later date.

GlutenGuru joins several similar apps on the market, including Find Me Gluten Free and GF Overload. Find Me Gluten Free allows users to search for restaurants with gluten-free menu items, while GF Overload contains a user-friendly database of over 10,000 gluten-free products.

The Canadian Celiac Association currently estimates that 1 in 133 Canadians are affected by Celiac disease. While the most common course of treatment is to practise a gluten-free diet, it can be hard since many products, including salad dressing and canned soups, often contain hidden sources of gluten.

The prevalence of gluten-free apps highlights the potential of smartphones to help Canadians battle chronic health issues. As studies continue to prove, the internet is a very popular place to look for medical advice. Last November, the Pew Research Center reported that one-third of American cell phone owners search for online health information using their mobile device. Earlier this week, Mark Curtis told CNN that “in the not-too-distant future, you’ll receive a full diagnosis and cure from your smartphone before you have even realized you’re unwell.”

No matter what your health concerns, apps are a great way of increasing social awareness about common medical issues. Costello and Nathan are currently hoping to launch GlutenGuru in May, which also happens to be Celiac Awareness Month.