Do you want to eat healthier but find the supermarket aisles overwhelming and confusing? ShopWell is a free website and iPhone/Android app that scores foods on how well they meet your unique needs.
Do you ShopWell? When a Registered Dietitian points me to a new website or app, I’m likely to listen. I find that one of the biggest challenges my clients and readers face is the overwhelming amount of conflicting information in advertising and the internet, making it nearly impossible to figure out what to eat. As each person has differing medical conditions, allergies, and food preferences, what works for one may not work for another. Enter ShopWell. Developed by a team of dietitians and engineers, this is a fantastic app that helps shoppers make healthier choices at the grocery store based on their own nutrition goals. It allows the user to shop and discover new products that meet their needs as well as the needs of their family.
Once you register, you can choose from:
1. Goals and conditions like weight management, prediabetes, Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, vegan and more…
2. Things you WANT like fiber, whole grains, protein, low saturated fat or low sodium.
3. Things you DON’T want like added sugars, artificial sweeteners, trans fats or color additives.
4. Allergies, intolerances and foods you avoid like gluten, lactose, meat and even FODMAPS.
(That’s really valuable since finding FODMAPs in food is impossible unless you have an “avoid” list. And if you are avoiding or limiting them, you know who you are…)
Here’s how it works… Each food is given a score that’s personalized to your profile. They range from 0-100 and are color coded. Green represents 70-100 which signifies a strong match for your goals. Yellow scores range from 40-60 and are a medium match, so you need to investigate the product and read the label and ingredients carefully. Red scores from 0-39 should only be eaten occasionally in small portions, or not at all if it’s something you are aiming to avoid completely. So, like a stoplight, the color codes are easy to use and understand.
When browsing “meat”, since I told the app I’m avoiding meat, the highest ranking items were all meat substitutes, which was cool. Actual meat products had a score of “0” and a big red hand to remind me that it’s an item I’m avoiding. Easy.
You can personalize the nutrition label to calculate the daily percentages for the food based on YOU. Simply enter your height, weight and exercise frequency (it already knows your age from your profile) and it will fill in the nutrition label according to your needs. Now, this is a ROUGH estimate as everyone’s body is different, but it’s a neat feature.
The search process is easy, simply browse by food, brand, category or specific item. Here’s an example of what came up after I entered “peanut powder”.
When I browsed “chips” based on my dietary preferences, I was happy to see several of my favorite brands listed such as Way Better Snacks and Beanitos.
The app is pretty current with many products I see at trade shows and smaller stores, not just what’s in the large supermarkets. It doesn’t feature every product you may be looking for, I’m sure new foods are added all the time as they become more readily available in the marketplace.
If you are curious where your favorite products rank, or if you are in the supermarket and need a quick yay or nay, there’s a scanner feature! All you have to do is scan the barcode on the food item and viola, if your item is in the database, it’s score appears.
You can take advantage of a feature called Basket Scoring which works in a few retailers today (Instacart, Walmart.com, and Safeway) and more coming soon. With this feature, once you input a loyalty card, ShopWell can pull in recent purchases and suggest better alternatives for your shopping basket called a “Trade Up”.
ShopWell encourages you to participate in their Feedback Forums if have any thoughts on products they’re missing, features you’d love to see or anything else they can do to improve the site.
Try ShopWell yourself, it’s fun to play around with just to see if you are buying the foods the app thinks are matched to your nutritional needs. While no system is perfect, this one is pretty darn good. I do find that I don’t always agree with the rankings, but if anything, my item is ranked lower than I think it should be which is better than the alternative.
Both the website and mobile app are easy to use. I strongly recommend trying it first on your computer at this link: http://www.shopwell.com/home/mobile because you can view the whole screen at one time for your profile set up options.
I’d love to know what you think once you try it. Things only get better with feedback and I’m excited to start recommending ShopWell to my clients.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by ShopWell, all opinions are my own.