I recently discovered Fig, an app that helps people living with celiac disease, gluten sensitivities and food allergies find foods that fit their dietary needs without spending hours decoding confusing ingredients and food labels. This is a sponsored post and all opinions are my own. Please see my disclosures for more information on how I work with brands.
If you’re following a special diet for any reason, I highly recommend you download the Fig app ASAP, which you can find in the App Store or Google Play. I’ve tested a lot of scanner apps but are none as comprehensive and inclusive as Fig.
The Fig app is incredible and promises to help the millions of people following special diets – as well as those managing one or more food allergies and/or food intolerances – easily read a food label and instantly spot any questionable ingredients. On top of that, you can also search Fig’s database to quickly identify foods and brands that meet your set criteria.
No more spending hours reading food labels, Googling ingredients, and searching through store shelves to find a product that meets your dietary needs. Fig does it all for you, eliminating any human error and time-consuming research.
Millions of People Live with Food Allergies
Fig will come as a relief to the 32 million Americans living with food allergies, including 5.6 million children under the age of 18, according to FARE.
FARE says that more than 170 foods can cause an allergic reaction, although the bulk of the most serious food allergy reactions come from the top eight food allergens – milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish.
On top of the millions of Americans living with food allergies, 21 million Americans avoid gluten either because they have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity or NCGS. (Three million Americans have celiac disease; 18 million have NCGS.) The only way to treat celiac disease and NCGS is through a medically-necessary gluten-free diet.
I’ve been using Fig for a few weeks now and can definitely see how this app can help people on the gluten-free diet, particularly those new to the diet who, no doubt, experience the most overwhelm and frustration while grocery shopping.
I remember those early years when grocery shopping reduced me to a puddle of tears. If only a tool like this had been available 10 years ago, I would have felt more empowered and educated from the start of my gluten-free journey.
The Benefits of Fig
Using the Fig Scanner App offers the following benefits:
Benefit #1: Improves Quality of Life
Talk to anyone following a special diet or living with a serious food allergy and they will tell you how isolating, frustrating, and all-consuming their diet Is. With Fig, managing multiple food allergies, intolerances, or medically-necessary diets is much easier and less time-consuming.
Benefit #2: Promotes Strict Adherence to the Gluten-Free Diet
I avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats, to help me manage celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune condition where gluten causes my immune system to mistakenly attack itself every time I eat gluten.
Unfortunately, strict adherence to the gluten-free diet is difficult, especially when so many products contain gluten hidden inside ingredients like natural flavors and yeast extract. Fig decodes complex food ingredient labels to ensure you don’t miss questionable ingredients that could sabotage your gluten-free diet.
Benefit #3: Saves You Time
Reviewing complex ingredient labels, and Googling ingredients to find out if they’re gluten free, takes a lot of time. With Fig, however, reviewing a food label happens in seconds. No more spending precious time staring at food labels and Googling ingredients to find out if they’re gluten free because Fig does the heavy lifting for you.
It’s also of note to mention that Fig monitors products for more than 2,000 ingredients, from acai to xanthan gum, so if you think your food avoidance is rare, there’s a good chance that Fig is already monitoring foods for that ingredient.
Fig also allows you to search for foods that meet your dietary requirements. Let’s say, for example, you’re looking for a safe ice cream brand. Click on the search tool inside the Fig app, enter the search term “ice cream”, and within seconds, Fig will display various ice cream brands that fit your dietary needs.
Benefit #4: Simplifies the Process of Managing Multiple Food Avoidances
Food allergies don’t exist in a silo. In fact, FARE says approximately 40 percent of children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food.
Plus the popularity of food sensitivity testing and elimination diets has created a market of people managing multiple food avoidances at once, and keeping track of what you can and can’t eat is a chore, to say the least.
Fig, however, makes that process easy. You tell Fig all the ingredients you’re avoiding and it will help you figure out which products are right – or not right – for you. When you reintroduce a food into your diet, you can simply remove the ingredient restriction from your Fig avoid list.
Setting Up Fig
It takes less than a minute to set up the Fig Scanner App, and it’s an intuitive process too. Here’s what you’ll see when you set up your profile:
Step #1: Set Up Dietary Restrictions
You’ll start by checking if you have any dietary restrictions. I have celiac disease, so when I set up the app, I checked “Gluten Free” and then was prompted to disclose my “level” of observance.
I checked, “I must avoid gluten and cross contamination is not ok,” but if you’re simply avoiding gluten but aren’t as strict, you can check either, “I must avoid gluten but cross contamination is okay,” or simply, “I try to avoid gluten.”
On this page, I also selected pork, as I avoid any and all pork products for religious reasons, however, you could also select any of these dietary restrictions:
- Alpha gal
- Dairy free
- Egg Free
- Eosinophilic esophagitis
- Fructose Free
- Gluten Free
- Lactose Free
- Low FODMAP
- Low Histamine
- No Beef
- No Pork
- 30 Paleo Days (which sounds like Whole30)
Step #2: Alert Fig of Any Food Allergies
On this page, you’ll alert Fig of any true food allergies. Fig lists the following potential allergen-triggering foods (the top eight allergens are highlighted in bold):
- Corn (you can select if you avoid corn ingredients and/or just corn derivatives
- Eggs (white and/or yolk)
- Oral Allergy Syndrome (various pollen allergies to choose from)
- Peanut (and/or peanut oil)
- Seeds (poppy, sunflower, others)
- Shellfish (crustacean, mollusk, or both)
- Soy (soy, soy lecithin, soybean oil)
- Tree Nuts (you can select all tree nuts or from a list of 11 tree nuts)
If you check wheat, please note that Fig will exclude gluten-free products that contain wheat, including gluten-free wheat starch. Gluten-free wheat starch is found in some gluten-free products made by Schar as well as in Digiorno’s frozen gluten-free pizza, which is labeled gluten free.
Step #4: Check Off Food Avoidances
Next, Fig will prompt you to select any ingredients or foods you’re avoiding for any reason, including:
- Added salt
- Added sugar
- Artificial flavors
- Artificial food coloring
- Capsaicin (peppers)
- Common additives (MSG, nitritrates, sulfites and more)
- Garlic / Onion
- Gums & thickeners
Step #4: Review Ingredients
Finally, Fig displays a custom list of food ingredients that you can either eat (green) or avoid (red) based on what you selected, and the app will flag any questionable items that require further review in yellow. This is where you can put in any specific restrictions, such as a citric acid or annatto intolerance.
Once you complete your profile, Fig knows exactly what you can and can’t eat and will work hard to protect you going forward. (You can change your profile details at any time.)
Taking Fig on for a Test Drive
I took Fig on a test drive at Walmart to scan a few items to show you how Fig works. Watch Fig in action in this video:
Do You Need Fig?
Yes, you need Fig in your life. In fact, everyone I’ve talked to who has used it says Fig is a game changer, helping them stay on track with their medically-necessary specialty diets. Overall, Fig eases the overwhelm of reading food labels, saves you time when grocery shopping, and most importantly, it keeps you safe. Oh, and did I mention it’s absolutely free?