We continue our Breaking Bread series with a special live interview edition. As part of our #Nimaday celebrations, we invited community member Torrey to join Shireen on Facebook Live, which aired on January 26. You can watch the full video here.
(Interview starts from 1:27)
Shireen: So this is the exciting part of the day! Torrey is here for a live breaking Bread session. If you haven’t heard about Breaking Bread, not to be confused with “Breaking Bad,” Breaking Bread is a blog series where we feature Nima stories from our community members who have Nima, who are integrating Nima in their daily lives and sharing their experience with them on our blog. That’s Nimasensor.com/news where you can see that content.
So Torrey shared an email to her family once she got her Nima. She was out and about testing a “gluten-free” labeled cupcake and Nima found gluten in that cupcake. And there is this awesome photo of her beautiful kid holding Nima and saying Nima found gluten.
And this e-mail made its way to me through a mutual friend, and that’s how we were first connected. So we’re so excited to have you here today, Torrey. Thank you so much for joining us on a very special occasion. And this is my first time meeting Torrey in person, and so we’re thrilled to have her. Can you begin telling our audience a little bit about how Nima fits into your life?
Torrey: So I have my Nima sensor in my bag, and it goes with me everywhere. I basically never leave home without it. I really enjoy having this tool with me for exactly these moments like you described where I can be out somewhere and I’m not sure if the food is safe for me or not, and now I have this tool where I can just put a little bit in and test it and then use that information to make the best decision I can make when I’m eating out and about.
S: Ah, you let Nima take the first bite?
T: Yes, I let Nima take the first bite!
S: How did you first hear about Nima?
T: I don’t remember the exact single source because I feel like it came at me from a bunch of different places. I’m sure I saw some posts on Facebook. A few different friends and family members heard about it and forwarded emails to me, and I kept having to reply I’ve heard of this thing, I’ve heard of this thing! As soon as I was able to order one, I was on the list right away. I knew it was something that I wanted to have.
S: And before you had your Nima what were some of the precautions that you took to make sure you’re trying to stay healthy?
T: I really had to rely on trusting people in food situations; waiters, servers, food prep people, and I just kind of had to use my best judgment and hope that the information I was getting was good and then I just had to take some risks.
S: And how often would you say that during that time, before you had Nima, that you got exposed to unintentional gluten?
T: Quite often – I’d say a few times a month.
S: How long have you had Nima now?
T: I got it really early. I got it last fall whenever the first ones came, so I had it for a while.
S: You said you carry it in your purse. Where else have you used Nima? At restaurants? Do you use it at friends’ homes?
T: I haven’t really used it at a friend’s house yet because I still feel a bit nervous when eating at other people’s homes because I don’t want to have them think that I’m testing their food that they’ve prepared. But I use it definitely at restaurants, and I’ve tested a lot of packaged food in my own home.
S: When you do test it at restaurants when you’re out with people, what is their reaction to Nima?
T: People get really excited about it. I have a lot of friends who will ask me to bring it. They’ll say “oh let’s meet for dinner, don’t forget to bring your Nima, I want to see how it works.” I usually have everyone at the table kind of leaning in and crowding around, and I’m able to teach them how to load capsules and how long it takes to wait for results and those sorts of things.
S: You should bring into your friend’s houses!
T: I should! I will.
S: So speaking of using Nima at restaurants and for celebrations, we have this cake here because it’s Nimaday! And we’re going to be celebrating so we I think we should test it.
T: We should totally test it!
S: Okay so here is this gorgeous looking cake I can’t even believe it’s gluten-free so we’re going to find out. Do you want to do the honors?
T: Sure (accidentally touches cake) I would lick my finger but I should wait for the test.
S: Do you ever find it hard to wait until the test is done?
T: Absolutely right it’s like an automatic reaction to start licking your fingers when you touch something.
S: Have you ever done that and then found that it had gluten afterwards?
T: No, luckily the time that I did that I was waiting for the test to run and I licked. I was like “uh oh” and then it came up with a smiley face for a relief. But yes it did happen once. Does this look like the right size to you?
S: Yes that looks like the right side pea sized amount. Yes if you overfill it it can be problematic so definitely a pea sized amount to go in there. When you twist the cap you’re turning it all the way so the green ring disappears and you hear that little pop. What kind of force does it take to close?
T: It’s significant amount of force for sure.
S: So as this test is running tell me about some of the biggest surprises you’ve had when you’ve been testing with Nima?
T: I would say things where I wasn’t surprised was, almost for sure every time I test a baked good that comes from a shared facility there’s gluten in it.
S: Almost every time?
T: Almost every time! And I test it sort of expecting that there’s not going to be a smiley face. Gluten-free cupcakes from a regular bakery, gluten-free cake from a regular bakery, gluten-free pizza from a regular pizza place. Those kinds of things where there’s flour puffing airborne everywhere. Those things are just are not coming up safe on Nima.
S: And when you are eating out before Nima did you sort of take a chance and say let’s see how I feel this time?
T: Yes I basically ate stuff. This is just my personality, I just choose to take the risk. I wanted to eat that gluten-free cupcake, and I wanted it to be okay. And I would always tell people that you know when you have celiac disease, you are the guinea pig. I’m testing the food out on myself, and I have to see if I get sick or not and then that’s how I know if there’s gluten in it. This is my favorite thing about Nima, that I don’t have to test it on myself.
S: Great could you tell me about some of the your strategies for sampling because again it’s the pea sized amount. We took a sample of whatever result we get is going to be for that sample. It’s not going to guarantee the entire plate is free of gluten. So tell me about some of your sampling strategies?
T: So depending on the type of food I would say sometimes I want to incorporate a little bit of everything on my plate so that I’ve assessed as much of it as I can. Other times I want to isolate a particular food so that if that one comes up safe or not safe then I know specifically. An example is like at a Mexican restaurant when you get beans and rice. I often like to test the beans first alone and then I don’t mix it like with the rice or with the enchiladas sauce or with any of the other stuff I just want to check the beans and this is specifically because I find that Mexican restaurants are contaminated oil from the fryer that they mix into refried beans. So if the beans come up with gluten, then I know to be extra cautious about everything else; and if the beans are clean, then I know that they are not coating everything they’re cooking with oil that could be contaminated from a fryer where chimichangas have been dipped.
S: Oh so interesting. I didn’t know that they would put oil in the bean.
T: Yeah I used to have to ask a million questions before I had Nima. I would ask about food preparation and oil usage, and I’ve learned in some restaurants they just have one vat of oil, and then they ladle from it and just coat rice, coat the beans, coat the grill tops, or all the tortillas and so basically the whole restaurant has this contaminated oil with foods that would normally be gluten-free; beans, rice, corn chips, corn tortillas, naturally gluten-free coated in contaminated oil.
S: So interesting. And the Nima can pick that up. Can you tell me what other communities you’re involved in the gluten-free communities if any?
T: I’m involved in one large Facebook community for people celiac disease and non celiac gluten sensitivity, and it has over 17,000 members.
S: Wow. Have you shared your experience about Nima?
T: I’ve been sharing a little bit. I’ve also been hanging back and reading about other people’s experience. When someone else posts about Nima I chime in on the thread that I really love mine and how I use it and how I enjoy it.
S: That’s great. Thank you! And for the future of Nima, you know as a great user who’s integrated this device in your life and who’s had a lot of experience using it, what would you like to see from our team? And what would you like to see in terms of how we can make this better?
T: It’s a pretty great experience for me so far. The things I really like about it in addition to the fact that it’s testing my food and telling me it’s safe is the app on my phone and how it’s connected to the app. And the test results come in and I’m able to log the results based on where I’ve eaten and what I’ve eaten. That whole system as it grows will become more and more valuable. I’ll be able to go somewhere and open up my Nima app and look at other people’s test results, other people’s reviews, and decide whether or not I even need to use a capsule of my own at any given restaurant.
S: Have you ever gone into a restaurant and seen another test result to help make that decision?
T: No not yet. I really just use it to log my results. I haven’t found a lot of data that’s already there to help me, but I’m hoping that that is what increases.
S: When you see that smiley face, what kind of emotions you have and do you feel like you can trust that place again once you get a one time small smiley face?
T: Definitely I would say this smiley face obviously just brings relief because I’m always hopeful when I’m testing something that is going to be okay, and it allows me to feel comfortable just in that moment at eating the dish that I have in front of me but then also for returning.
S: Yes so you think you wouldn’t test it again if you get a smiley face?
Y: No I won’t.
S: What if there’s a supplier change or at that point you’ll just calibrate how you feel?
T: I guess that would just be a time where I would probably just trust it moving forward and if I had a physical reaction then maybe I would wonder and the next time I went I might test again.
S: Got it that make sense. How about the gluten found symbol what kind of emotional reaction do you have when you see it?
T: Honestly also relief that I’ve been spared from whatever I was about to eat that would have made me sick. One story recently, it was just a week or so ago, I was traveling home with my family on the airplane, and we stopped in the airport gathered food to take on the plane to eat dinner. I had gone into a little cafe and had the normal conversation where I asked people what’s safe and this is my allergy and this is what I can and can’t eat, and they recommended some vegetarian chili. So I get my little chili to-go, which they told me was gluten-free. I take it on the plane, we take off and I go to eat my dinner. I figured I’d test it just to be sure and I got the the low gluten symbol.
S: And then how do you feel in that situation?
T: So relieved that I was not eating something on an airplane that was going to make me sick. Because what’s worse than being sick while you’re traveling especially when I had young children with me that I was trying to take care of. So I just feel really grateful.
S: That’s so great to hear! Speaking of your young children Elodie and Phoebe, what is their reaction to Nima?
T: They love Nima. They think it’s the coolest thing. They get really excited when the smiley face comes on they cheer!
S: I feel like the smiley face makes me so happy when I see that going.
T: It’s definitely a clear message.
S: The gluten symbol sometimes can feel like it’s a little bit of a letdown but emphasizing that you’re not going to have the repercussions of eating that gluten and what that can mean for people is really really important. Okay I have a feature request. I’d like to make this test faster.
T: Faster will be good! But you know usually I enjoy the processing time so I can set it up to take pictures of the results of it (on Nima with the food) when it’s ready.
S: That’s my feature request. Faster, smaller, and available to everyone. We’re always trying to push the limit. One of the amazing things to say is that how this was just an idea and now it’s this thing that’s out in the world and hundreds of people have it. But we have a small team relative to what we’re achieving and and there’s only so much we can do. So I’m so proud of what we’ve delivered and we’re always committed to making this a better experience. That’s why we need your ongoing feedback and help.
(after Nima finished testing the cake)
We did get a test result for the cake! It’s a really happy smiley one. That’s a happy little Nima. ONLY much happier sharing this amazing cake with Torrey. Happy #Nimaday!
Thank you Torrey for sharing your story with Shireen and the Nima community! If you have Nima stories to share, we encourage you to post on social with the hashtag #nimatested or email firstname.lastname@example.org.