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.