The “Know Your Menu” Project

Website: www.knowyourmenu.com

Vision

I dream of the day when you will wake up in the morning and you will have your breakfast delivered to your door. I see a day when you and your friends can just walk in a restaurant and the waiter will know exactly what you can eat on their menu. I know you will be able to follow your nutritionist’s advice, you will not stray from your diet and most importantly you will be healthy and vibrant.

Challenge

Jane is a 30-year old gal. She is a gluten and dairy intolerant. If she has any of them, she can run into severe digestive issues. It’s been already 5 times she ended up in the ER because she didn’t pay attention to ingredients in supermarket products.

Whenever she needs to eat out, she does extensive research on the restaurant, making sure there are gluten- and dairy-free options for her. She also calls in just to confirm with the restaurant that they respect cross-contamination guidelines.

But that is not it..

Before ordering, Jane needs to let the restaurant know she has a severe intolerance. Some establishments have this as a rule. The awkward back and forth discussion in between Jane and the waiter follows. Menus aren’t always clear or properly marked. Meanwhile, Jane’s friends have to witness and wait. Patiently.

Needless to say, Jane has become an expert in cooking, freezing and storing her food. She's also become an expert in missing out.

In numbers

Jane is not the only one.

The UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions in the world, with over 20% of the population affected by one or more allergic disorder. (M. L. Levy, 2004)

  • 615% increase in hospital admissions the 20 years to 2012 in the rate of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in the UK (Turner, Paul J., et al, 2015)
  • 1-2% of adults (around 2 million people)
  • 5 – 8 % of children have a proven food allergy (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2011)
  • 1 in 55 children have a peanut allergy.
  • 1% people have coeliac disease (an autoimmune response to gluten proteins found in a number of cereals)
  • Approx 33% of people are lactose intolerant

Give them a chance to speak up

I'm honest, upfront and give them plenty of warning. I communicate through email with restaurants. (Allergic to gluten and soy intolerant, following an ethical-based vegan diet)

Don't eat at friends, too risky, at restaurants check well in advance and then repeat gluten free option several times to person taking my order (allergic to gluten, dairy and corn/maize)

Companies and restaurants need to label better and understand contamination risks better (vegan)

I guess one of the most challenging things is not being able to share friends food and it's so hard to find healthy take out meals I can eat. (Allergic to gluten and dairy)

I make and freeze fritters so I've got quick meal options. I always have snack food and always take it out whenever I go out so I don’t get caught short. (allergic to pork and rice)

I may look goofy to my friends when I eat out, but they need to understand I am not a fussy eater, I could die. (Peanut allergic)

What if…?

  • There was a digital platform that could work closely with restaurants and nutritionists to provide the best customer experience when eating out
  • We received a personalized treatment
  • We didn’t have to spend time researching before they go out
  • Restaurants were aware well ahead an order that they are catering for someone with a restricted diet
  • We complied to the diet configured by our nutritionist even when eating out
  • We were no longer “fussy eaters” or diseased, but just a little bit goofy..

I understand, do you?

I have been a vegetarian for years now and a vegan for 1.5 years, so I know first-hand the pain of eating out. I also know, for a fact, this is not just my case and it's, certainly, not the most severe. People with medical conditions have it worst.

Why should it happen nowadays that if you need to have a different diet, you actually have a harder time? Why should it happen that if you want to be healthier, you have a harder time?

I want to help to make everyone's diet sustainable and effortless: both for the environment and for themselves.

Get involved!

If you are a foodie, have a "fussy" family member or you are just passionate about nutrition, then maybe you can help with any of the following I am looking for:

  • respond to my consumer survey here
  • help with market research
  • nutrition therapist advice/consultancy
  • brainstorming "pals"
  • lots of feedback
  • funding

Want to know more? Contact me and I am happy to set up a meeting to provide more info.

 

 

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