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To "App" or Not to "App": The Use of Gluten Free Product List Computer Applications

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Amy Leger

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Even just a few years ago, gluten-free shoppers were going to grocery stores with papers in hand, making sure they were reading ingredient lists correctly. In fact, in that first year after my daughter’s diagnosis, my average time at the grocery store doubled–and so did my bill.

But now, technology is making it a lot easier for us to navigate the aisles with more confidence and a lot less paper. I recently received a notification online that talked about an application for the iPhone that helps you access gluten-free ingredient lists.The software developer, Clan Thompson, also makes the software for Smartphones and pocket PCs. It is great for companies to seize on the need for easy access to gluten-free information and create software like this.

But dare I utter the words…Is the application worth it? You may be saying “how could it not be worth it? ”Well I’m personally not quite there yet. It’s not that I’m afraid of technology–although my husband might say I am. And it’s also not because I don’t have an iPhone or a Smartphone. It’s because I don’t understand why you need an application for something you can just find online using your cell phone with internet access.

I set out to get some answers. I checked in with my iPhone connections: my sister-in-law and my celiac brother. I asked them to check out the “app” –as the tech-savvy cal it– but I also gave one a link to a gluten-free ingredient list and another link to a forum that has an ongoing product list. How do they rate?

First thing they both said: “the application costs $24.99” and my sister-in-law Dani Kassner added “…which is a little spendy”. Clan Thompson developed the software, and says on its website it “…will provide new versions quarterly, but you must purchase them individually. ”From what I gather, you could be paying as much as $99.96/year for updated gluten-free lists on the iPhone.

Software for a SmartPhone is $29.95, but at least double that for a year subscription which includes updated information. No matter which one you buy, the application for the “Celiac Food Smartlist” says it “…makes it easy to find gluten information on over 18,669 products.” It is a good start. My brother, Dave Cook, who has celiac didn’t buy the application, but says in general he finds iPhone “apps” user-friendly.“If this app can put the gluten-free database at your finger tips, and make it easy to search, [we’ll probably] be buying it”, he said.

In comparison, what did my “guinea pigs” find when they checked out the regular web links I sent them? “The [ingredient] link…worked great for me…” my sister-in-law reported. My brother said the forum site with the product listings was “tedious” to get to, but it worked and he could read it.

Thankfully we live in a time when we can make the choice: pay extra for the “app”, or just stick with the good ol’ World Wide Web. What do you do? I would love to hear about your innovative ways of using technology to help you handle the gluten-free diet. As for me, I’m pretty old fashioned. I either look it up online before I leave the house or at a last resort, I print up a list and bring it with me to the store. I know…someone just get me a cane.

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I read your blog

Very interesting

In fact I have been searching for this for months

www.celiac.com is a site I'll keep bookmarked

Great effort keep up the good work!

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Your discussion of available applications was very helpful to a group of kids I'm working with on a research project.

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    1. Toft M, Dietrichs E. Aggravated stuttering following subthalamic deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease--two cases. BMC Neurol. 2011 Apr 8;11:44.
    2. Tani T, Sakai Y. Stuttering after right cerebellar infarction: a case study. J Fluency Disord. 2010 Jun;35(2):141-5. Epub 2010 Mar 15.
    3. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    4. Jäncke L, Hänggi J, Steinmetz H. Morphological brain differences between adult stutterers and non-stutterers. BMC Neurol. 2004 Dec 10;4(1):23.
    5. Kell CA, Neumann K, von Kriegstein K, Posenenske C, von Gudenberg AW, Euler H, Giraud AL. How the brain repairs stuttering. Brain. 2009 Oct;132(Pt 10):2747-60. Epub 2009 Aug 26.
    6. Galantucci S, Tartaglia MC, Wilson SM, Henry ML, Filippi M, Agosta F, Dronkers NF, Henry RG, Ogar JM, Miller BL, Gorno-Tempini ML. White matter damage in primary progressive aphasias: a diffusion tensor tractography study. Brain. 2011 Jun 11.
    7. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    8. [No authors listed] Case records of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Weekly clinicopathological exercises. Case 43-1988. A 52-year-old man with persistent watery diarrhea and aphasia. N Engl J Med. 1988 Oct 27;319(17):1139-48
    9. Molteni N, Bardella MT, Baldassarri AR, Bianchi PA. Celiac disease associated with epilepsy and intracranial calcifications: report of two patients. Am J Gastroenterol. 1988 Sep;83(9):992-4.
    10. http://ezinearticles.com/?Food-Allergy-and-Stuttering-Link&id=1235725 
    11. http://www.craig.copperleife.com/health/stuttering_allergies.htm 
    12. https://www.celiac.com/forums/topic/73362-any-help-is-appreciated/
    13. Ford RP. The gluten syndrome: a neurological disease. Med Hypotheses. 2009 Sep;73(3):438-40. Epub 2009 Apr 29.
    14. Hadjivassiliou M, Gibson A, Davies-Jones GA, Lobo AJ, Stephenson TJ, Milford-Ward A. Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness? Lancet. 1996 Feb 10;347(8998):369-71.

    Jefferson Adams
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