Uncharacteristic Rage

by | Jul 20, 2012 | My Life | 8 comments

the object of my ire

Ordinarily I am a sweet and certainly nonviolent woman, so I surprised myself. Even stunned myself. A Whole Foods employee looked at me with fear and awe and couldn’t believe what I have just done. I had just come back from the bathroom where I tried to vomit up the GoodBelly probiotic coconut water I sipped, but that didn’t work. So I hurled a plastic bottle of coconut water like a grenade across the dining area of Whole Foods and splattered coconut water on him. All I could say to him was “I’m sorry” and “I had good reason to be angry.” I repeated these phrases a few times.

I was sorry about spraying him, but not sorry about the public display of rage. It felt good to hurl that GoodBelly bottle of probiotic coconut water hard. It felt good to hear it hit the garbage can with a thud. I had to do something. I have always been the kind of person who bottles anger up inside. And for once, it felt really good to externalize my anger and hurl that bottle into the trash where it belongs. Why? That coconut water was poison. After I took a sip, I read the ingredients and they contain “barley malt” and “oat flour.” Those are both sources of gluten. That’s serious business. That’s poison for the 1 in 133 Americans who have celiac disease (and I am one of those one in 133).

That’s the first time in over 15 months since my diagnosis when I have knowingly accidentally consumed gluten. I live in a constant state of high alert checking ingredients guarding my body against gluten, in food, lip gloss and even in my another’s lips. Consuming more than 20 parts per million gluten could make me sick for a day or as long as a month (symptoms are different for each person, mine are typically fatigue, muscle aches, anxiety, and poor sleep). The long-term risks of gluten exposure are increased cancer risk and other autoimmune diseases.

You could say this was my own error. I should have looked at the ingredients before sipping. But coconut water?!!!!!! That’s like putting gluten in seltzer water. I wrote to GoodBelly on their Facebook page. My request is that they put a label “contains gluten” on the packaging. Though they fulfill legal requirements for disclosing their ingredients and warn celiacs on their website , they really ought to do so on the product itself. It is so surprising to put gluten in coconut water that they owe consumers a warning.

I want to apologize to the guy who I splattered coconut water on that day, but I’m glad I threw the bottle in a rage. One thing I got from my travels in South America (the subject of the memoir I am writing now) is that I prefer to live at a higher voltage, be more exuberant, be more rageful, don’t just be so contained and flat (which is how the States can feel after traveling in the Southern hemisphere, a bit flat). I’m not talking about flipping people off in traffic or shooting sprees–no of course not. I’m saying, let it out.

PS Here is my post on the GoodBelly Facebook page, please go ahead and “like” it or add your own comment.


  1. Cassie Gallagher

    Hi Sasha,

    I want you to have my email address so you can reach out to me directly at any time, with any thoughts or concerns. Your feedback is crucial and I want you to know it is appreciated and heard.

    I would love for you to be able to try a gluten-free product in the future. It is truly important to us to offer an alternative to the oat flour and barley malt currently used to grow and culture the probiotics. The oat flour and barley malt probiotic mixture is present because it allows us to offer a soy-free, dairy-free and vegan probiotic product. We have also tested for gluten over the years, typically finding, if gluten is present, levels are below the globally-accepted guidelines of 20 parts per million, but we in no way claim to be gluten-free. We do hear from some fans with gluten intolerances who are able to enjoy GoodBelly, but never recommend GoodBelly to anyone suffering from Celiac disease.

    I can assure you a gluten-free alternative is of the utmost importance to us and something we take very seriously. I would love to hear from you anytime and hope, in the meantime, you are enjoying a wonderful, happy and healthy summer.

    Best wishes,

  2. Sasha Cagen

    Hi Cassie,
    Thank you for commenting here and showing your real concern. It’s great to be able to voice a concern to a company and get a detailed response. I’m happy to hear that in your tests you have found that the gluten present in the current formulation is below 20 parts per million. That’s good news. It’s also good news that a gluten-free alternative is potentially along the way. I still think it would be great if you can label the current formulation as containing gluten so that other celiacs aren’t as surprised and upset as I was.
    Thanks again,

    • Cassie Gallagher

      Hi Sasha,

      I hope you’ve been well and characteristically gleeful! I wanted to let you know I passed along your request for a gluten mention on our packaging to the management team, and it is being considered for the next go-around of printing. I also let them know about the interactions we’ve had, about your experience and your concerns.

      I was also curious because I came across a post on celiac.com about GoodBelly Coconut Water and was wondering if it was a comment from you. I just want to make sure you feel you are being heard and that all of your needs are being met. The concerns you have are of the utmost importance and I truly mean it when I say I am here and happy to help. I hope you reach out to me with any thoughts or questions… or we can just chat about the foggy paths we’re on! : )

      All the best,

      • Sasha

        Hey Cassie, That’s great news. I would be overjoyed if you take my suggestion and add a label that the beverages contain gluten. It would make me very happy to know other celiacs don’t make the same mistake I did. 🙂 That was in fact my post on the celiac forums. The celiac forums is the best place to ask questions and get advice from others who are living this bizarrely strict gluten-free life that we need to live.

        Thanks again for your support! From the foggy path, getting clearer.

        • Cassie Gallagher

          Hi Sasha,

          I’m glad to hear the path is getting clearer! And happy to read your response. I’ll make sure to reach out with any updates. Let’s keep in touch!

          With my continued support, I wish you all the best and hope you enjoy a wonderful August.

          Take care,

  3. Stephen Bromm

    Barley Malt? Oat Flour? How is it that coconut water needed additives? I always found (coconut water) to be refreshing, who decided that it also had to fill you up?
    I do have to say that I’ll never look at another bottle of coconut water the same again…..especially I’ll never look at one again without a helmet on if I’m ever in Whole Foods when you’re around…

    • Cassie Gallagher

      Hi Stephen,

      I hope you haven’t been spooked lately by the idea of flying beverages! I saw your comment and just wanted to articulate that the barley malt and oat flour are ingredients in GoodBelly products simply because they are the medium on which the probiotics are cultured. Our coconut water isn’t your typical coconut water since it has the probiotics added and a fermented quality about it. People either love it or they don’t! I love infusing it with different fruits, veggies and herbs, like watermelon and cucumber or cucumber and mint. Please, feel free to reach out to me if you have any thoughts or questions.

      Health, happiness and all the best!
      Cassie at Team GoodBelly

    • Sasha Cagen

      Thanks Stephen! Keep your helmet on! 😉



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Hi! I’m Sasha

Executive and Life Coach on a mission to help women connect with their bodies to pursue their truest desires in the bedroom and the world.

Author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperCollins) + To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster).

At work on a memoir called Wet, about adventures in healing through sensuality.

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