Heather Sliwinski

My Food Identity: Before and After Celiac Disease

Lyndsie Slakey

I describe my food identity as before celiac and after celiac. Before celiac, I indulged in the fresh/warm bread at restaurants, super burritos, pastries, Italian food of all kinds and the bliss of not having to worry about (at least in a reaction sense) what I was putting in my body and how it might make me feel a couple of hours/weeks later. After celiac, I still love Mexican and Italian food, however I now enjoy tacos, risotto and gluten-free pasta. Dedicated gluten-free bakeries are worth the detour and fresh meat and veggies now offer the worry-free meal I used to take for granted.

In my house, my husband does most of the cooking (I handle the cleaning/hard to screw up cooking tasks) and although he has no food allergies nor celiac disease, he has embraced my celiac diagnosis, and all of our food and appliances are strictly gluten-free. Eating at home offers a safe space where I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination, and my husband has enjoyed finding creative ways to make amazing meals that our non-GF guests enjoy just as much as I do – his Italian bean soup is always a favorite. However, eating out post diagnosis was still stressful and would often result in choosing the lesser of two evils on a menu rather than an option I felt fully confident in. Enter Nima.

Nima first came on my radar about two years ago when my husband heard about a “gluten sensing device” on NPR and immediately signed us up for the company newsletter. He was so excited about this sensor and was convinced this would be a game changer for us. At the time I was a little more skeptical, thinking that it sounded too good to be true – I could just put in a piece of food into this sensor and it would tell me whether it was gluten-free or not, in my dreams! Fast forward about six months, and I received a newsletter update from Nima announcing they had completed their Series A funding round. At this point I realized that this product was in fact real and could in fact change my life. I knew then that I wanted to be a part of this amazing company and help bring this product to market.

Since having Nima, I’ve been able to eat out with less anxiety and diminish some of my chronic symptoms, that despite my best efforts, continued to linger due to cross-contamination or incorrectly labeled packaged foods. “Breaking-up” with some of my favorite takeout gluten-free pizza options and pastries from local coffee shops once Nima detected gluten in them was hard. I was even reluctant to test some items knowing a “gluten found” symbol might pop up, and I’d have to nix them from my already limited options. However, now after using Nima for a couple months, I can say my lingering symptoms have diminished, and I feel better than ever. I am so thankful to have this device at my fingertips and even though I’ve had to give up certain items I was used to, my health is so much more important, and I wouldn’t trade it for any GF pastry, no matter how good.

-Lyndsie Slakey, research associate, Nima

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