Dietitians have limited time with patients. Patients have limited knowledge to decipher ingredient labels while doing their grocery shopping. Currently, dietitians manually create shopping lists unique to each patient and hope they purchase correctly in the grocery store. Without technology, this process is inefficient and limits the efficacy of patient health outcomes.
Sifter is a discovery tool that combines the search and filtering of online shopping with dietitian-validated algorithms. This tool allows patients to quickly find the right foods for their unique dietary needs and food preferences. Sifter has filter combinations for thousands of diet varieties—more extensive than any known retailer site. The purpose of this case study is to compare the benefit of using the Sifter tool when shopping versus using select retailer sites for health issues and food preferences.
In May 2022, we tasked two nutrition experts with creating a full-day meal plan for diets with multiple parameters. They were instructed to shop online at Sifter.shop and Store A, B, or C, and to record time spent, answer a survey, and share observations on obstacles and/or benefits.
• The first diet profile shopped was for diabetes, vegan, and no soy.
• The second diet profile was for high blood pressure with preferences for organic and no onion/garlic.
• Finally, the third diet profile was for low FODMAP and no added sugar.
Each shopping experience resulted in 18-20 products purchased to make breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and one snack. The meal plans were designed to be nutritionally balanced and represent all food groups.
“Shopping from stores A, B, and C was limited, challenging, inaccurate, and time-consuming. Shopping on Sifter is easy, accurate, fast, straightforward, and efficient.”
The nutrition experts “shopped” the same plan, yet bought different foods at each shopping event depending on the accuracy and ease of analyzing the product data of each retailer. Participants were asked to keep track of search experience, accuracy of results, and the time it took to find suitable compliant items. Different combinations of search and filter options were used on various retailer sites to narrow down the results to items that would best fit the diet parameters.
The nutritionists reported needing to stop and read many of the ingredient labels on Store A, B, and C due to lack of diet prompts, no easy way to filter to find what they needed, and inaccuracies found when shopping. Shopping the plan took 30 minutes using Sifter, and 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes on other retailer sites.
A contributing factor to the reduced time spent on Sifter was the precision and wide assortment of diet filter preferences applied. Experts noted that retailer A, B and C sites did not function correctly due to an inability to filter on multi-health issues and preferences, leading to inaccurate results when two or more filters were selected.
A key consideration of this case study is that the exercise was carried out by nutrition experts familiar with the nuances of dietary parameter compliance and reading food labels. Still, it took almost 3 times longer to navigate retailer sites than to use Sifter. Because dietitians often work under time constraints, Sifter can be a powerful technology tool to help teach patients about navigating grocery options and finding variety in complex diets. Time saved is time better spent on patient counseling and important tasks that drive health outcomes.