Dietary requirements can be joyless and time-consuming. Food shopping is frustrating, eating out restrictive and planning meals a minefield.
Having a snack turns into a rigmarole of laborious cross-checking and note-taking and taking pictures of the ingredients list on your iPhone. It’s enough to put you off your food.
The struggle is real and it’s launched a movement: a new generation of apps intended to help those with dietary requirements (and those who need a hand eating healthily), to personalise meals to their needs, taste and budget.
Mucho is the trailblazer: it’s a recipe app that bills itself as a “personal stylist for your tastebuds”. Enter details about your lifestyle, tastes and requirements, and your values (eg, if you’re a vegan), and it will create a personalised shopping list, cost it up and provide easy-to-follow recipes that won’t take hours to make. It learns from your choices, and keeps everything within your budget. You can even opt to get the food delivered via the app.
The app is partnered with website The Gut Stuff, the UK’s first online portal for all things gut-related. Users can keep a food diary and access ‘gut reaction videos’ with practical ways to change your diet.
“It’s all about consumers feeding their own bodies things that work best for them,” say The Gut Stuff’s founders, Alana and Lisa Macfarlane. “People want the fuss taken out of their lives, so food services like this are great for helping people to eat well within their hectic schedules and dietary requirements.”
Vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian categories are substantial and varied. Families are catered for, and so too are individuals and couples. The app interface is streamlined and simple, employing bright, Instagram-friendly images of each dish.
Meanwhile, type 2 diabetes patients will soon be able to make use of Epic Health, a first-of-its-kind app that monitors glucose levels. Users just place their fingertip over the camera lens to take a reading, encouraging them to understand how certain foods affect their body. According to clinical trials, it’s just as accurate as traditional methods that use the finger-prick test to draw blood.
And many apps use the camera as a scanner. Whatsinit asks you to take a picture of any food or label and will rapidly produce a full list of all the ingredients, each one colour-coded. So green indicates it’s a goer, yellow means use caution, orange advises you to cut back, and red warns you to avoid it. The free app provides valuable details on the nutrients in a dish and their side effects, and also lets you block any foods you (or a guest) might need or want to avoid.
Meanwhile, health app Yazio has a built-in barcode scanner to make it easy to quickly log your ingredients in a daily food diary, and Yummly invites you to set your favourite cuisines, allergies, dietary requirements and rate your cooking ability. It will pull recipes from websites and blogs to suit your tastes, and “learns” your preferences. It also schedules reminders for when to start cooking, and you can order ingredients online. Download a pocket-sized nutritionist.