In my family, like so many others, food is the center of every holiday or event, and cooking food for your family is a way to show love. Recipes are passed down from generation to generation, and for me, meals are tied to traditions and memories.
A huge part of our lives center around food and meal time, and we at Nima believe food and identity are intertwined. But what if you don’t know what’s in your food? If you are what you eat, and you don’t know what you’re eating, do you know who you are?
I myself identify as paleo – I eat a diet free of grains, lactose, refined sugar, corn and soy to help manage symptoms of Crohn’s disease. It took me many years, lots of experimenting and more than a few sick days for me to figure out the triggers for my flares. A paleo diet is one tool that helps me manage some of those triggers. Being paleo to me means having more control over a disease for which there is no current cure. It means that I can go outside and explore or run a half marathon or just hang out with family and friends without pain and discomfort. So knowing what’s in my food makes a huge difference in my quality of life.
I know all too well how it feels to go to a conference or dinner party and worry about what they’re serving and if I’ll be able to find food I can eat. I, like so many of you, bring emergency snacks with me when I travel or go to events. After awhile, I was exhausted from researching restaurant menus and reciting my list of foods I avoid that I hated drawing attention to my needs and eventually defaulted to a plain hamburger patty for my meal.
Food sensitivities and allergies shouldn’t be a limitation to a life well-lived. Knowing what’s in your food is key to making healthier decisions and enjoying life. Food transparency has the potential for giving back health, social freedom and happy memories around food.
We need greater food transparency so that every person can own their food identity, free of anxiety and full of togetherness, happiness and good health.
I am grain-free, lactose-free, sugar-free, corn-free and soy-free. What’s your food identity?
–Heather Sliwinski, PR lead, Nima