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How a new business, 'Cheeky Nibble' was born from a diagnosis of TS and ADHD

Posted Thu 20th May 2021 at 10:02
by Marietta Hickman

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A Tourette’s diagnosis can be a challenging thing to comprehend for those who go through it, especially if diagnosed later in life, as I was.

I remember being quite upset at my diagnosis and was scared to tell friends, colleagues, and my employer because of the stigma around it: which is awful when you think that anxiety just makes it all worse!

I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and ADHD at around 19 years old, and I think it was so late because my physical symptoms only became increasingly frequent and severe at that time. Fortunately for me, my symptoms are limited to physical tics which can be significantly reduced by exercise. However, the amount of exercise needed is more than most people can do (I am talking 3 hours or more a day!), a huge time commitment that for many is not feasible.

After my diagnosis I was instantly drawn to do my own research. I wanted to learn more about this condition and, ultimately, about me. Something I have learnt by listening to podcasts and reading articles about TS (and also ADHD), is that we tend to do really well at the things we love, and struggle to find motivation to do anything we are not interested in.

Learning this about myself and realising it rang true when looking back at my academic history and career, I started to think how I could use this to my advantage. I believe our need to be passionate about what we do in life can be such a superpower because, provided we love what we are doing, we can work longer and harder, and with more enthusiasm, than many neurotypical people.

However, it was not until 2021, after a difficult year of isolation, working abroad in Germany during the pandemic, that I was able to put this into practice. I was yearning for some home comforts and felt that because I did not 100% love my job in Germany, I was not working to my full potential, which was frustrating. I decided to try to make my Tourette’s an
advantage by evaluating what my passions were: I love to bake, exercise, have a massive sweet tooth and love being home with my family. This led (after a few months of research and planning), to me handing in my notice, moving home to the UK and starting my food business, Cheeky Nibble (www.cheekynibble.com).

Cheeky Nibble is a granola, created to fuel me for my now very active days. I also made sure that the oat clusters were large and chunky enough for a “nibble on the go” between work and multiple exercise sessions. My homesickness led me to create flavours inspired by British desserts and famous drinks. The branding itself is very retro and nostalgic as I wanted to recreate the childhood joy of delicious and fun cereal at breakfast, and bring some joy into mine and others’ lives after we have all had such a tough year.

Tourette’s and ADHD is still something that can be a struggle for me, as I am sure it is for a lot of people who have it. Whilst I remember how hard I found being diagnosed, I can honestly say it was one of the best things that happened for me. The diagnosis allowed me to evaluate and research something that is ultimately just a part of who I am, and see how I can harness some of the aspects of the condition for my benefit. I am healthier, (and a lot fitter!) because of it but,
most importantly, I am happier. It made me evaluate my life more than I would have done if I had gone undiagnosed and it allowed me to learn so much about myself and how I can live my best life. I would not have my own business without it, and this has been one of the most exciting and rewarding decisions I have ever made!

So, I really hope anyone struggling with being recently diagnosed can find some comfort in my experience. I am also hoping to help destigmatize Tourette Syndrome by spreading awareness via my granola. My Tourette’s diagnosis and consequent need for high levels of exercise drove the creation of the business, so naturally it is at the heart of the brand. I hope that in this small way the success of Cheeky Nibble can drive greater awareness and understanding of the condition and so help those diagnosed in the future.


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