Gluten intolerance, Celiac Disease, fuels new food line for local mother

Nichole Thomas loves to cook meals with her husband—former NBA star Etan Thomas. But, when she was pregnant with their third child two years ago—food was the devil.

Eating left her with extreme abdominal pain and fatigue.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” Thomas said.

It took visits to six doctors and two specialists to figure out she had a severe gluten intolerance—or Celiac Disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

Recent studies show that at least three million Americans have Celiac Disease. While there’s no cure, doctors say following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms.

“I was like wait a minute: bread, pasta, you want me to do what? Take what out of my diet?” she said.

The Thomas’ decided to go gluten-free as a family, but soon learned that going to the grocery store was not easy. While there are a few gluten-free items on shelves, there’s a lot more that isn’t there. So, Nichole decided to figure it out on her own.

“It started with me in my kitchen, just mixing up blends, coming up with ways to make your food taste great,” she said.

Nichole created her own blend of spices—all organic and gluten-free. Her line of food is “Virtuous Living”—making sure what she’s putting in her body is beneficial, and not letting her food define her.

“There’s a freedom in being able to give people the pleasure back in enjoying their food. It just makes me excited,” she said.