Breaking Bread: Marissa with Nima

Marissa McCaw is a health and fitness enthusiast who lives in Chicago, Illinois. She has been fighting celiac disease for about 10 years and is an active member of the Nima (and gluten-free) community. You can follow her on Instagram (@marissamccaw).

What’s your food identity? 

I have Celiac Disease. I was diagnosed about 10 years ago, after being sick for the majority of my life. I also have a peanut allergy. No gluten, no dairy, no eggs, no nuts, no meat, and no soy. I’m really excited about the launch of the dairy and peanut Nima in the future. My Celiac Disease was triggered by running my first Chicago Marathon. Training was amazing and grueling. It was during these long runs where I realized my mind and body were capable of so much more than I had ever imagined. Each week of training I was accomplishing longer distances, but my stomach never felt okay. One Saturday morning after running 15 miles, my stomach gave out. I knew something was very wrong. It would take several physicians, gastroenterologists, and tests before finally getting diagnosed months later.

How do you maintain your food identity?

I live a very simple, clean, and organic life. I cook most of my meals myself. I eat organic vegetables. I carry snacks with me everywhere I go. I’m always reading ingredients and researching the latest gluten-free foods. I use instagram as a great source of information, following companies, bloggers, finding recipes, and educating others when I can, about food allergies and autoimmune diseases!  

Breaking Bread - Marissa and her yorkie, Ringo

What are some of your hobbies or interests?

I’m passionate about health and fitness! I always start my day off by giving my little yorkie a walk. He’s always been my biggest motivation on days when my Celiac Disease flares up, or my fatigue feels overwhelming. I can’t disappoint Ringo. I also began training with a personal trainer 5 years ago and he changed my life. I’ve been lifting weights, gaining strength and endurance, and constantly challenging myself. Working out keeps me sane and balanced in this ever changing world of allergies and intolerances.   

What do you test with your Nima?

I test everything with my Nima! If I’m feeling uncertain about a packaged product I bought at the store. If I’m worried about cross-contamination. If something doesn’t taste right or when I’m eating out at a restaurant. The Nima is like my little buddy. I take it with me everywhere I go.   

Breaking Bread - Marissa's Nima

What was your food life like before you had your Nima?

I was consumed with anxiety. Eating out felt unsafe, scary, and often times not worth it. I’d force myself to eat out at restaurants for my family or friends, but never for myself. It felt like a chore. The unknown of how food would make me feel or the worry about getting sick immediately was debilitating.

What’s your food life like now that you have Nima?

I’m excited to try new restaurants and foods! I’m confident I won’t get sick. I feel a sense of relief and a new confidence in myself. I’ve been wanting to travel more and I just recently took the Nima on a trip. It was life changing! The Nima has given me an opportunity to live again!

I’m planning on posting more about the Nima on my Instagram. I feel inspired to post more, get more information out there, and to visually show the community how the Nima really works! More people having the Nima will really help me out! That must be goal, right? A community of gluten-free humans, working together, to make this world a safer place? What a visual to walk into a restaurant and have the servers and cooks be more aware of gluten intolerances because the Nima is sitting on the table! It was such a great reminder of how lucky I am to have my Nima!

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’m still a Chicago girl at heart. It would be gluten-free, vegan pizza!

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Breaking Bread

Thank you for sharing your story Marissa!

If you have a Nima story to share with the community, please send them to so we can feature it in our next Breaking Bread post. See previous Breaking Bread posts here.