Custom Search 1

Sickle cell sufferer co-creates app to aid healthy eating

INFORMED: Temi Alanamu and her husband Rob Renton have produced an app that helps users make the right food choices

WHATISINIT? WAS formed in 2015 when Temi Alanamu and Rob Renton were made redundant and financial constraints meant that they had to increasingly depend on cheap, processed food. When they read the labels, they realised that they had no clue what many of the words in the ingredients list actually meant.

Born with sickle cell anaemia, which can be worsened by a poor diet, Alanamu found herself researching every ingredient on every food label before she ate anything to ensure that it did not contain any substances that could pose any short term or long term side effects. She soon found this process tiresome.

Two couple combined Renton's technical expertise with Alanamu's background in academic research to develop Whatsinit?, a food ingredients and allergies scanner app.

This app was created in partnership with doctors, nurses, dietitian, nutritionists, trainers and naturalists to ensure that all the information remains accurate and up to date.

Alanamu spoke with The Voice's Andrea Photiou about the start-up and her motivation to keep going...

Q: Your story is a triumph for those thinking of leaving their job to start a successful business as well as for those keeping an eye on their health. Before you began, did you evert have dreams or plans to become an entrepreneur?

A: I have always had dreams of being an entrepreneur. I am the daughter of my entrepreneur. My mother quit her 9-5 in the 1970s to start her own business and although there were times of harvest and famine, she always said how that was the best decision she had ever made. Getting to wake-up in the morning to do something you are passionate about, picking your own hours and working hard to build something my own have always been aspirations of mine so I guess I always knew that I would venture out as an entrepreneur. I never thought it would be in health tech though.

Q: How long did it take you to get the app to market after coming-up with the idea?

A: It took exactly two years from idea to market. Apps almost never take that that long but my co-founder Rob Renton and I could only work on the app in the evenings and on weekends because we both have full-time jobs. We also wanted to ensure that we had something excellent to offer users.

Q: Who do you think would be interested in downloading Whatsinit?

A: Every day, consumers get more sophisticated. You only have to look at the clean eating revolution to know that. They are aware of the dangers that unhealthy food pose and with food allergies, cancers and children’s disabilities on the rise, we should all be more conscious about what we eat. People who I think will benefit most from the app are those with allergies, clean eaters, vegans and vegetarians, people who are pregnant and those with young children.

Q: Do you think the UK will end-up doing a trade deal with the US that leads to us eating imported, chlorinated chicken?

A: The idea of imported chlorinated chicken is quite concerning. The current government has said unequivocally that there will be no imports of chlorinated chicken but politics these days is quite tricky. Politicians do not always honour their word and they rarely do anything in the pure interest of their citizens. We will all just have to wait and see. I always advice that people try to eat fresh, organic food whenever possible. But from experience, I know that these foods are expensive and may not be practical on every budget. Just as products made with GMO plants have to be clearly labelled in the US, I would advise that should we import chlorinated chicken in the future, they should also be clearly labelled so people know exactly what they are buying.

Q: Have you got any tips for staying healthy on a budget?

A: It is possible to eat well well on a budget. When I and my husband were both out of work and had to buy food on a budget, we bought a lot of healthy canned food. Canned beans in water, canned tomatoes, tomato purees, frozen vegetable and fruits. We also bought the cheap cuts of meat like beef cheeks instead of rump steaks and lots of offals. They are good for you and taste great. Try to avoid sugary drinks which also drain the pocket. If you must drink fizzy, try a cheap supermarket brand fizzy water and dilute it with a pure cordial like lime and elderflower. A little goes a long way and you will be avoiding excess sugar and additives. But, always read the ingredients label and use Whatsinit? to guide you through those many obscure ingredients so you are sure that you are not eating anything harmful.

Q: Are there any plans to expand Whatsinit? brand onto other platforms or even offline?

A: Whatsinit? is already available on both iOS and Android and can also be used offline. Our plan is to expand Whatsinit? into a one-stop platform for all things food and nutrition where people can get advice on any question they have about food in seconds.

The Voice is celebrating its 35th birthday this year. Share your Voice memories, comments and birthday wishes on social media, using the following hash tag: #Voice35Years

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.

Annual subscription for The Voice newspaper print edition.

Read more stories like this in our weekly printed newspaper. To purchase an annual subscription and get 50% off, complete the form below and enter the code 'ONLINE2017' - offer ends 30 November.

* indicates required
() - (###) ###-####
Facebook Comments