Thinking of investing in a Nima Sensor? In this article, I will share 13 things you need to know about this portable gluten-detecting device. UPDATE: As of October 2020, the fate of Nima Sensor is unknown due to change in management. Read this article before investing in a Nima Sensor. Also, please note that this post affiliate links. Please see my disclosures and disclaimers.
The Nima Sensor has won over my celiac heart.
In case you don’t know what the Nima Sensor is, it’s a portable gluten detecting device that enables you to test your food for gluten when on-the-go.
If you’ve ever wondered if that pancake or pizza you ordered at your favorite restaurant is really gluten-free, you can test it with your Nima Sensor and find out, with a greater level of certainty, if it’s free from gluten (or not).
That’s why it’s no surprise that Nima Sensor’s tagline is “bringing peace of mind to mealtime.” That is exactly what the Nima Sensor does for me.
Eating out is often fraught with anxiety for those of us who cannot eat gluten… and Nima feels our pain.
Nima Sensor data shows that 35 percent of restaurants meals labeled as “gluten-free” actually contain gluten. Holy cow! That’s a lot of gluten being served to gluten-free diners, and it means you’re probably getting glutened, from time to time, when you eat out.
Related Reading: 7 Ways to Recover from an Accidental Glutening
I once surveyed my community to find out their top challenges. One of the top challenges, they say, is eating out. This is why the Nima Sensor has become such an important part of my platform. We now have a portable tool to help us manage our top challenge.
For me, trusting others to create a safe meal for me, especially people who are not as knowledgeable about gluten as me, is hard. So hard!
But I’m not willing to give up my love of eating out, traveling and being with friends. Every social occasion revolves around food and I refuse to let my “disability” get in the way of enjoying life.
Related Reading: How to Eat Gluten-Free at Chick-fil-a
Instead of giving up on eating out, I have learned that the Nima Sensor can help me enjoy eating out safely, minus the gluten.
I’ve owned my Nima Sensor for more than three years, and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone serious about eating gluten-free. There is so much to learn about this little gadget – both the pros and cons.
I hope these 13 facts will help you make an informed decision about whether or not the Nima Sensor is right for you.
13 Things You Need to Know About the Nima Sensor
Below are 13 things you need to know about the Nima Sensor before you buy or use it.
(1) It’s Accurate, Baby!
The Nima Sensor is highly accurate at detecting gluten at 20 ppm of gluten and above. The 20 ppm is the what the FDA says is the amount of gluten that can be in a product for it to be legally labeled as “gluten-free.”
Nima also can detect gluten in products that contain less than 20 ppm.
- Nima will report “gluten found” 96.8 percent of the time when the level of gluten is 20 ppm or greater (FDA legal limit). This baby is highly accurate!!
- Nima will report “gluten found” 56 percent of the time when the level of gluten is 10 ppm.
- Nima will report “gluten found” 35 percent of the time when it finds 5 ppm of gluten.
If you’re looking for a device that will only tell you if it contains more than the legal limit allowed in a gluten-free product (currently 20 ppm as set by the FDA), then the Nima Sensor might not be right for you since it can report “gluten found” at lower levels.
Related Reading: Is the Nima Sensor Accurate?
Also, the Nima Sensor will not tell you the exact parts per million of gluten in a product; rather it only displays a smiley face if it found no gluten, or a “gluten found” message if it finds gluten. If you want a device that tells you precisely the parts per million of gluten in your food, the Nima Sensor is not for you.
(2) Nima Can Test a Variety of Foods
The Nima Sensor can test just about any food you want to test, with a few exceptions (See #3). If that bun on your burger looks too good to be true, you can test it (or let Nima take the first bite) before you eat it. This will put your mind at ease.
I’ve tested soups, pizza, pasta, sauces, gravies, salad dressings, French fries, cookies, meatballs, muffins, cereals, chips and smoothies. Most everything can be put to the Nima Sensor test. (See exceptions in #3.)
For fatty foods, Nima recommends using only small amount of the food diluted in a little water, to reduce testing errors. Nima says fatty foods include things like chocolate, yogurt, cheese and frosting.
The same goes for powdery, dry foods. A little water can help dilute the powder and give you an accurate test result.
Related Reading: Nima Testing 20 Kirkland Products from Costco
Nima also is good at detecting cross contamination. If a gluten-free French fry was cooked in a fryer used to cook breaded chicken nuggets, Nima will detect gluten and report back to you its findings.
(3) Nima Has Some Limitations
Like any thing in life, Nima is not perfect and has a few limitations you must be aware if you want to properly use the device. These limitations include:
- Nima cannot detect gluten in fermented foods, such as beer, vanilla extract, alcohol, or gluten-removed beers
- Nima cannot detect gluten in hydrolyzed foods such as soy sauce and malt extract/flavoring
- Nima has not been validated to test medications, cosmetics or non-food items.
- Nima cannot detect gluten in PURE xanthan or guar gum.
(4) Nima Tests Only a Small Amount of Food
Obviously you can’t put your entire dish inside the Nima Sensor to find out if every bit of it is gluten-free. Then you couldn’t eat your food as it’d be slathered in chemicals!
You only need to test a small, pea-sized amount of your food for Nima to do its thing, but it means that Nima cannot know with 100 percent certainty if the entire dish is gluten-free. It only tells you if the portion it’s testing is free from gluten (or not).
Related Reading: How the Nima Sensor Is a Game-Change for Restaurants
Remember, the Nima Sensor is no substitute for commonsense ordering. You must still read labels, ask questions and do everything you can to mitigate the risk of gluten from coming in contact with your meal.
Bottom line: Nima is just one data point to help you decode if your meal is safe (or not). It should NOT be the only data point.
(5) It Takes Guts to Use the Nima Sensor
One of the hardest things for me to do is test the dish I ordered at a restaurant for gluten. (And I have not yet mustered the courage to test a dish at my friend’s house or mother-in-law’s house.) When you test your food, and Nima finds gluten, you have to have a difficult conversation with your server – and it’s not easy to do.
Related Reading: 21 Struggles Only Gluten-Free People Will Understand
When ordering food at a restaurant, always convey the seriousness of your “allergy” and tell your server you will be testing your food for hidden gluten using a portable testing device. Ask him to be as careful as possible when preparing your food. Your server has now been put on guard and should understand how serious you are about getting a safe meal.
(6) Nima Test Capsules Expire… Eventually
You must buy single-use test capsules to use for each test. This can add up, although I think your health is too important to risk eating food that makes you sick.
You’ll want to buy the test capsules as you need them as they will eventually expire. In late 2019, Nima smartly updated its test capsule expiry dates so they last for one year after the date of purchase. You can hang on to them for a while, but you must eventually use them. Do not use expired capsules.
(7) Nima Sensors Are Covered by FSA/HSA
While the Nima Sensor is not covered by insurance, if you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease and participate in either an FSA (Flexible Spending Account) or HSA (Health Savings Account), you can use your pre-tax dollars to get reimbursed for all your Nima Sensor purchases. This includes the purchase of a Nima Sensor and all test capsule purchases.
(8) Nima Has an App for That!
You can track and document all your tests, and help the entire gluten-free community at the same time, when you log your tests into the Nima Sensor app. Once you download the app, simply pair/sync it with your phone. It’s really easy to do. Now, every time you do a test, the app will remind you to log your test.
The app is FREE for everyone (not just the Nima community). This means, even if you don’t have an Nima Sensor, you can still use the app to help you identify potentially safe – or unsafe – restaurants near you.
(9) Nima Sensor Reduces Fear and Anxiety
There’s nothing worse than being far from home and getting glutened. You know the feeling. The urgent need to use the bathroom can be oh-so-embarrassing and intense.
And the last place you want to be when accidental gluten happens is waiting in a long line to use the single use toilet at a disgusting gas station in the middle of nowhere.
The Nima Sensor helps calm all those fears and gives you a little extra peace of mind with each test. Test before you eat, just to be on the safe side, and especially when far from home.
(10) Nima Means “Just” or “Fair”
The word “Nima” is a Persian word that means just or fair. The CEO and co-founder of Nima Sensor, Shireen Yates, is of Persian descent, and named the product.
The name is befitting as dining used to be so one-sided. The chef gave you food and you had to trust it to be gluten-free. But now, with Nima, you know with a much greater level of certainty if your food is really safe. Nima is the great equalizer in the restaurant-customer relationship.
(11) Nima is Disruptive
This tiny portable device is disrupting the way the gluten-free community eats in so many ways.
First, it’s holding restaurants accountable to its gluten-free patrons, offering gluten-free eaters full transparency over what’s really in our food. (People with peanut allergies can benefit from Nima’s peanut sensor too.)
Related Reading: What’s Gluten-Free at the Cheesecake Factory?
Second, it’s alleviating so much fear and anxiety people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities feel when dining out. Getting glutened is no joke and causes serious consequences, both immediate and long-term, when someone who should not eat gluten does. This fear diminishes when Nima displays a smiley face (a smiley face means no gluten found).
Third, it’s changing the way gluten-free people get information. If you wanted to find out if your food was really gluten-free, you’d have to send your food to a lab, but now you can freely test your food right here and now!
And Nima is helping our community crowdsource information. Anyone can check the Nima app to see what others in the community are testing and which restaurants are passing the test.
Simply put… you have the power to know, in about two minutes, if the food placed before you is free from gluten. It’s like having a test lab in your pocket.
(12) Errors Happen
Occasionally you might overstuff your test capsule or the test capsule is defective (happens rarely, but it can happen from time to time). Do not worry one bit. Use a new test capsule from your stash and repeat your test.
Be sure to report your error to Nima so the staff can send you a free replacement test capsule. If you pair your Nima Sensor with the app, the Nima team will see your error and use it to make improvements to its technology.
To minimize testing errors, only test a small portion of your food (do not overstuff test capsule). Do not store your test capsules in extreme heat or cold conditions, and make sure your test capsules are not expired.
(13) Pizza is the Most Tested Item
Americans love pizza and Nima once reported that pizza is the most tested item by its community.
Related Reading: Best Gluten-Free Frozen Pizzas: All Nima Sensor Tested
Keep in mind, however, that pizza is a difficult food to test because people tend to overstuff the test capsule with crust, sauce, cheese and toppings. Less is more when testing pizza.
Before Investing in a Nima
Remember, before you invest in a Nima Sensor, make sure you read this article to make sure you can still purchase the important test capsules. The company has underwent some management changes in 2020 and it’s fate is unknown as of October 2020.
Overall, the Nima Sensor is an investment in your health, and health is wealth my friends!
What else do you want to know about the Nima Sensor? Leave your question in the comments below.