About 30,000 of Americans end in the hospital emergency room every year, because of allergic reactions. A lot of these allergic reactions are caused by food, where milk, wheat, and eggs are the most common culprits.
Although not as severe as a full-blown food allergy, food intolerance can also cause many symptoms, such as fatigue or bloating.
Intolerance of gluten, found in various grains including wheat, is probably the best known, although more than 90% of people with this type of food intolerance remain undiagnosed.
Gluten intolerance is a separate condition from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system responds abnormally to gluten. However, both are linked to many health issues ranging from digestive problems to anxiety and anemia.
In order to avoid these issues, people with gluten intolerance need to stick to a safe diet, which means they need to avoid bread, cereals, and most beers.
While it's relatively easy to avoid gluten when eating and cooking at home, finding a restaurant that offers good gluten-free options could be a real challenge when eating out or traveling.
A technology can come to the rescue. There are many mobile apps aimed at people with gluten intolerance and those who simply want to maintain a diet free from allergens and additives, helping them find best places to eat healthily.
Find Me Gluten Free is one of those apps. It allows people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, as well as all others who want to stay gluten-free, search for local restaurants that offer gluten-free options, as well as those that have a dedicated gluten-free menu.
The app provides interactive maps, as well as the user reviews of restaurants that can be helpful in choosing the best gluten- friendly restaurants in your area.
Most restaurants featured in Find Me Gluten Free app are from the US and the UK, but there's also a small selection of restaurants from European and Asian countries as well as Australia.
Upon opening the app you may notice a couple of options you can use to search for restaurants, including Most Celiac Friendly, Dedicated Gluten Free, Best Rated, Closest, By Address, By Category, and Breakfast. It's clear from the names of these categories that they're used to filter out the results based on these parameters. You can customize which of these quick-tap categories you want to see on the main menu.
Tapping on any category (or any other action) would trigger a login screen asking you to log in, or register an account if you don't have it.
I'm not sure why the app creators did this. Many apps require registration and that's not a big deal. But, hiding these requirements until users perform a certain action is pointless.
So, yes, you are required to register an account in order to use the app. You can do this by using your email, or Google or Facebook account. What's even more pointless, once you registered you won't need your account anymore. You can log out and continue using all the app features normally.
Most Celiac Friendly category (which is probably the most interesting) requires the purchase of Premium for $19.99 per year, which also removes ads and enables two filters which are not available in free version of the app: Open Now and By Direction.
The app enables a quick restaurant search by entering your location. The search tool allows users to enter a specific location by address, city, state, or ZIP code.
While I had trouble searching by ZIP code, typing in my address and city worked flawlessly. Of course, the easiest solution is allowing the app to access your location and provide you with suggestions.
After entering the search parameters, the app would show a list of nearby restaurants that offer gluten-free menus. Tapping on any restaurant in the list would display important details such as distance from your location, open hours, address, contact information, phone numbers, website links, and the menus.
Users can also search nearby restaurants through a map view. The map would show the exact location of a restaurant with directions how to get to it.
There are also user reviews that can help you decide if the particular restaurant is the best gluten-free option in your neighborhood. The app also allows you to submit your own reviews and ratings in order to help other users.
You can also view or submit photos of the restaurant or the foods they serve. The app allows you to add captions with a description of a meal or a place.
Besides local restaurants, Find Me Gluten Free app also allows you to view details about chains, such as Burger King, Applebee's, and more.
The app allows users using various filters to refine their search and find the best results, including distance, local restaurants only, bakeries, breakfasts, and so on.
However, unlike HealthyOut app, we reviewed this week, Find Me Gluten Free app is missing detailed menus with more information about the individual gluten-free dishes they serve.
The app provides links to restaurants' websites tho, where users can learn more about the menus, however, a lot of those websites are not mobile friendly or not working.
There's one more thing that bothered me. You can bookmark restaurants, but it's not clear where you can find them later in the app (there's no Bookmark or Favorites section). You can view bookmarked restaurants if you use a dedicated filter, but that excludes all others.
Find Me Gluten Free app is not just restaurant finder. It also provides latest gluten-free news coming from various news sources, such as Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, ABC News, and more.
Another cool thing is Dining Card you can show in a restaurant, containing information about your condition (celiac or gluten intolerance) and the foods you can and cannot eat.
Overall, Find Me Gluten Free is a very useful app designed to help people find best gluten-free restaurants in their local area, as well as when traveling.
Benefit: Anyone with gluten intolerance or who has someone in their family or friends with a gluten intolerance would find this app useful