How do you ensure that you are grocery shopping in such a way as to support a healthy lifestyle when you have food allergies? When I first went gluten and dairy free, one of the hardest adjustments I had to undergo was grocery shopping. I know that sounds weird to those of you who just go to a grocery and throw things into your cart, but when you have food allergies, grocery shopping can be challenging. You have to read each and every label to make sure that the product does not contain the annoying and sometimes life threatening allergens. That means your grocery shopping very well may go from a fifteen minute “pop-in” to an hour or more, when you are first starting off.
Even as a “seasoned” allergy-queen, I find nutritional labels and ingredient lists a bit daunting. I mean, I am pretty sure what I can and cannot eat, but I’m not an encyclopedia – I am sure I miss some things. There are so many chemicals and products that contain hidden sources of gluten and dairy, that I will never say I am 100% gluten and dairy free…simply because I’m pretty sure I miss some of the ingredients on those labels that I’m not supposed to be having. How do I prevent this though? I know some people who walk around with lists of ingredients, but how do you know your list is comprehensive, and really, do I need any extra crap (yes I said crap) hanging around in my handbag? It’s full of “necessary” items already – so much so that I often cannot find said necessary items because they’re buried under other necessary items (no I will never do a “empty your purse and tell people what is there blog”).
I also am severely anaemic and take iron supplements on a daily basis, so I have to find foods with as much calcium as possible to keep my calcium levels up. Iron and calcium supplements, when taken together, clash and sort of disable each other – so it seems I have to choose one or the other…..and if I don’t have my iron, I tend to…well…fall asleep all the time…so obviously, calcium got the short end of the stick. How do I ensure that I get enough calcium while maintaining my gluten free and dairy free requirements in my diet? Again, reading nutritional labels can prove to be confusing and frustrating because very often, if it suits one condition, it doesn’t suit another…and that, I tell you, can be gut-wrenching when you’re craving that double chocolate chocolate chip muffin that is gluten free but not dairy free … or some other anomaly like that. *ahem*
Well, recently I discovered this awesome iPhone app (sorry if you don’t have an iPhone) for Canadians that will help out. It’s called CarrotLines powered by Tommy Europe and was released by PortaLife Solutions. This app is amazing – it allows you to set up a profile on the app with all your dietary needs, whether it be food allergy based (like gluten and dairy free), healthy lifestyle based (nutrition wise and if you are trying to bulk up/lose weight) or even based on religious needs (kosher or halal). It also suggests brands and products for you to purchase based on your food needs that you stipulate in your profile. Best of all, it scans barcodes and matches the product with your profile to tell you how appropriate it is for your chosen diet in a handy dandy percentage…That is possibly one of my favourite things about this app. It would cut down on my grocery shopping time significantly!
As you can obviously deduce from the name, CarrotLines has teamed up with Tommy Europe to bring you free nutrition and exercise advice through the app itself. So no need to pay anything – the app is free, and Tommy Europe’s advice is free. Wait, you don’t know who Tommy Europe is? Well t hen, you’ll just have to google him…haha just joking, no worries I’ll tell you now. Have you ever watched the shows “Bulging Brides” or “The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp” on Slice TV? You know that hardcore host with the muscles that encourages you to work your tail off and to eat healthy? THAT is Tommy Europe. Smiling, friendly, knowledgeable yet a no nonsense guy when it comes to nutrition and exercise, Tommy Europe, the host of Tommy Europe TV & former Grey Cup champion, gives you good nutrition advice for your diet needs and invites you to take part in SHRED (Strength, Heart, Resilience, Efficient, Discipline) to make your body tip top in shape all in his videos that are included in this awesome app. Oh, SHRED is a fun, reliable yet challenging workout powered by … you guessed it, Tommy Europe; and all accessible on the Carrotlines app!
The app itself is pretty simple to use and very easy to navigate and has such a cheerful & playful appearance that it makes you want to use it! You can even get your kids into it by saving several profiles at once and allowing them to look up and investigate their favourite products at the grocery.
1) Your Profile
You can customize this to your needs by choosing each of the categories and specifying what you are looking for. I absolutely love this, because my dietary needs change at different times – so by specifying my profile at any one time, I can find foods in the grocery that suit me easily. For example, my profile is usually this:
Nutrition: Low Carbs, High in Fibre
Vitamins & Minerals: High in Vit A, Vit C, Calcium & Iron (after all I need all the help I can get!)
Ingredients: Non GMO, No Added Sugar, No MSG
Allergens: Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Lactose Free, Soy Free
2) Browse Products
CarrotLines has done some of the footwork for you and have listed some amazing companies that produce yummy and healthy foods for a variety of dietary needs. If you go to browse, you can look for foods that suit your dietary needs or you can search for your favourite products by name to see all of the nutritional information you may want on that particular product. I love that the dietary needs range from Gluten Free & Dairy Free to thins like Organic, Vegetarian, Vegan, Halal and Kosher. A little bit of something for everyone.
3) Healthy Picks
Similarly to the Browse Products, this section advises you of brands that suit your dietary needs and gives you all the information that you may need to investigate them more fully. For example, if you look in the Gluten Free section, you will find Martin’s Marvelous Naturals with their website, twitter, facebook and pinterest links fully listed. Others such as Enjoy Life features all the previously mentioned links , as well as recipes from the company and an online coupon so that you can purchase the awesome product.
4) Get Healthy with Tommy Europe
Carrotlines has teamed up with the former Canadian Football League star turned celebrity fitness trainer and television host, Tommy Europe to offer Carrotlines powered by Tommy Europe. This is a series of videos from Tommy Europe, talking about Nutrition and Exercise tips to help you live healthily holistically. It includes videos about the SHRED fit workouts with Tommy Europe with links to information on the program, the book “The 10 lbs Shred Book” on Amazon and Tommy Europe’s Facebook & Twitter where he answers any questions you may have on fitness and nutrition in real time…okay in almost real time!
5) Built-In BarCode Scanner
I left the one of most awesome things till last – this app does not just give info for you to read and absorb, but works to help you figure out what is in the food you pick up at the supermarket. If you look at the lower right hand side of the home page, there’s a little barcode sign. If you click it, it allows you to scan any barcode at your Canadian grocery store and the app will tell you how close it is to your dietary needs that you input into your profile.
So if you’re looking for something to help you figure out those nutritional labels a bit more easily or something to save a little bit of time while grocery shopping, I encourage you to try the CarrotLines App poweerd by Tommy Europe.
What do you use to ensure you stick to your healthy diet while grocery shopping?