I went to my local farmer’s market last week and walked by a new stand that was selling gyzoas. I said to my boyfriend that I wish they were gluten free. And he said that I should ask, i.e. we were at a farmer’s market, it could very well be gluten free (not true however!) Anyways, I asked the girl, and she said that yes, they were indeed gluten free. She said that her brother was a health nut, and on a gluten free diet, and that she checked the ingredients for him. Then she said “no, there’s no wheat in them.” I asked her for an ingredient list (she buys the gyzoa wrappers!) and she said she didn’t have it with her, but I could find the package at Save-On across the street.
So, the bf and I went to Save-On and checked out the wrappers. The first ingredient? Flour!! So if I hadn’t trusted my gut instinct, and had a sample of the gyzoas, I would have been throwing up within half an hour and would have been sick and out of it for at least a week. It was a close call, and reinforced that I need to do research on my own, and not trust people who claim their product is gluten free. It’s too risky and I’ve already done enough “re-damage” since being diagnosed and having a few bad episodes of getting glutenized.
The moral of the story? I think we can take at least 5 lessons from this:
Lesson 1: Many people are a lot easier to claim a product as gluten free due to the new gluten free fad diet. I think this is because they assume it won’t harm someone on the diet. So make sure you communicate to someone (usually at a restaurant) that you have Celiac disease, and even consuming a speck of gluten will be very damaging.
Lesson 2: Many people think that if a product is wheat-free, that it’s gluten free. In my case, although the package said “flour”, it didn’t occur to the girl that the default “flour” in products is wheat flour. (Hello?!)
Lesson 3: This doesn’t relate directly to this particular anecdote, but lately I’ve been hearing about people confusing “wheat” as only referring to “whole wheat.” Pretty hard to believe but it’s true! The other day, someone on my Twitter stream mentioned that a doctor told them they could eat white bread, just not whole wheat bread. Um, run for your life!!!
Lesson 4: Don’t assume that people will know that Celiac disease goes beyond wheat to include barely, rye, and most oats (anything beyond pure, uncontaminated oats). A big one I find is anything that could have malt flavouring in it (sad -no more Mars bars!) Because of course, most malt come from barley malt flavouring.
Lesson 5: People tend to relate “natural” and “organic” to gluten free. I think this is because most gluten free packaged foods tend to also be organic. Even when it comes to cosmetic products! I went to Sephora awhile ago and told a sales lady that I was looking for some gluten free anti-aging face cream. (I didn’t expect her to know of anything right off the bat, but I thought I’d try it). She said “oh, so you mean ‘natural’!” I gave up and said “yes, natural”, and ended up buying a very nice gluten free face cream that had a rose scent to it. When all said and done, when it comes to any food (or body product), read the label, even if the product is natural. Of course, us Celiacs know this, but not everyone else does.
Lesson 6: Always trust your gut – literally, and figuratively!