Growing up I had no food allergies, though I remember being tested to try and get to the bottom of why my eczema would sometimes flare up. It’s not unheard of for people to grow out of some allergies, but I managed to grow into some.
I turned vegetarian when I was 13, before the days of Quorn and Linda McCartney products, after about ten years of vegetarianism I developed an intolerance to mushrooms, I get hideous cramps and other things I won’t go into. Suffice to say it’s not worth me eating mushrooms.
More recently I’ve developed an intolerance to rich dairy, so cream and ice cream are out, cheese is eaten in moderation and I try and have a few entirely dairy free days a week to reduce the unfortunate consequences of this.
The boys are thus far ok, able to eat anything and everything put in front of them, it’s just me, the mushroom and dairy intolerant vegetarian who makes meal planning more difficult at home.
I was introduced to the newly launched FoodMaestro app which allows you to create personalised dietary profiles for each family member, logging allergies, intolerances and lifestyle choices that affect their diet.
The app was built in partnership with Guys & St Thomas Hospital Trust and makes it easier to manage food-related conditions. It currently has a directory of more than 75,000 products and 25,000 ingredients, with more products being added all the time.
It’s easy to search for food products by name or category and find items that are suitable for your diet, the app checks the nutritional information on each product and tells you if it isn’t suitable for you or your family to eat. This allows you to easily build lists of ‘safe’ foods and identify potential problems.
Once you’ve downloaded the free FoodMaestro app you just put in the details of your family members and their dietary requirements, it’s a simple swipe to choose from a range of allergy and intolerances as well as filtering into vegan, meat free, gluten free options, to name just a few.
You can then set about creating a shopping list, I went about my kitchen scanning the bar-codes of the items we were starting to run low on, as each item scanned the app would tell me if it matched our dietary requirements. You don’t have to scan the bar-codes, you can write up your list and the app will check each item for you. Once you’ve finished you can share your list, I chose to email it to myself so I could view my list when I went shopping, I normally have my shopping list on my phone anyway.
The FoodMaestro app currently lists products from most large brands as well as the supermarkets, Waitrose, Morrisons and Asda, and they are adding Tescos products to the app shortly.
I can see this app being very useful for me, although I’m a keen reader of labels, sometimes I think a product is ok and it turns out not to be and I’m poorly for a few days (unfondly remembers the posh instant noodles I ate which contained an awful lot of mushroom stock). This will also be great for when we have people round for tea who I know have food allergies and intolerances, helping me to double check that I’m not going to make them poorly. I think the FoodMaestro app is a big step forward.
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