Breaking Bread: Managing Celiac Disease as a Couple
Meghan and Robert are a couple living in New Hampshire. Meghan has Celiac Disease and recently received a Nima. Read about Meghan’s experience with Nima and Robert’s perspective on dating someone with Celiac Disease.
What’s your food identity, and how do you maintain it?
M: Celiac diagnosed 6 years ago (when I was in college). I try and use apps with reviews from other people having good or bad experienced at different locations. At parties and events, I try to bring my own food to avoid cross contamination. When I am on the road for work or out with a group it can be extremely difficult to stay safe as you don’t want to make a fuss or call attention to yourself. Eating anywhere new, or at friends/families house can be extremely scary as you don’t know if it is actually safe but you also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
R: She has celiac disease, and has had it for some time now. She stays away from gluten all together, but the battle is cross contamination.
Tell us a little about your gluten-free journey. What was it like when you started eating gluten-free? What challenges did you face?
M: When I was first diagnosed, I had an extremely rough time with my new diet. I’ll admit some of it was cravings and finding new products to eat to replace the foods I loved, the other part was learning what was safe to eat in the school cafeteria. Eating was scary, I didn’t want to get sick and embarrass myself. It got even worse when it came to dating and business outings. It’s hard to make a good first impression when you are interrogating the waiter and/or running to the bathroom. I learned what foods are generally safe to eat, and what foods to avoid. What to look for to tell if a product has gluten free traits vs gluten traits (visually and poking with a fork) to try and tell if a mistake was made in the kitchen.
R: Living with someone that has Celiac disease changed my perspective of food. I am beyond careful not to cross contaminant any food. Sometimes I find myself just buying gluten free foods to avoid any issues. It’s tough to see someone you love get so sick from something so innocent such as food. Being on the other side of the fence I try to eat as much gluten free food as I can, but I don’t think research and meals that taste good have been a popular topic as of yet.
What was your food life like before you had your Nima?
M: I would go out, question if it was gluten free, and hope for the best. My body would tell me later if it was really gluten free.
R: From an outsider’s perspective, food before the Nima and Nima community was like walking on thin ice. Sooner or later you know that you will fall in the water. It’s just a matter of time before someone gets sick.
How do you think your food life will change now that you have Nima?
M: I think I will definitely feel safer at holidays, events, and when I have to travel for work knowing I can test my food and know if it is safe to eat or not.
R: Having the Nima has definitely added a layer of comfort for her. I can see it in her eyes that she feels safer and more confident while eating at any place than her home. But having the Nima is a small part of the benefits, the community that tests with the Nima helps grow, what I like to call, safe zones for people with food allergies.
What did you test with Nima? Was there anything that surprised you wasn’t safe (according to Nima)?
M: I tested what I thought was a gluten free vegetarian shepherds pie. Sadly it was not gluten free.
R: We were at her childhood summer camp. It was Turkey dinner night there and she had ordered the Gluten Free meal after explaining that she had Celiac Disease. So just for kicks and giggles we tested the sweet potatoes. They came back to have gluten in them, which was a big letdown for her. But because of the Nima she didn’t eat a ton of gluten, she really likes turkey night. Even more interesting was the gauge on the outside of the vial that shows the bands of gluten detected. I was surprised yet thankful to be able to catch it before she got sick and ruined her whole weekend.
What do your friends, family, and/or doctors think about Nima?
M: Friends and family that are celiac are curious about it, and all together they are happy that I now know when, and why I have gotten sick in the past from certain foods that I thought were safe, but I now know are not.
R: Everyone thinks it’s the coolest thing. I, personally, think it a very interesting device. And I hope that with the more people buy them and use them the world will become more aware and safe.
Bonus fun questions:
If you can only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
PIE. Pizza pie, apple pie, shepherd’s pie, you name it I want it.
If you can only use one spice or condiment what would it be?
Garlic or Cilantro
If you can only choose one restaurant for the rest of your life where would it be?
110 Grill. They have an awesome and diverse gluten free menu that is as big as their regular menu!