This past week has been gluten hell for me. I don’t like to complain about being a Celiac. 1) Because I don’t have an offical diagnosis (health insurance purposes) and 2) because as long as I avoid gluten my disease is not a problem.
I have friends and family members that are dealing with chronic illnesses and diseases that are painful and they have no way of getting away from them. They cannot get away from their pain by simply changing their diet.
That being said, I’m gonna complain now. I’m going complain about this stuff because it has been a difficult week for me because I have been unable to avoid gluten and my disease, despite my best efforts.
The first incident happened this week when I was searching for gluten free makeup. If you’re a part of my real world, you know that my sister is getting married this Saturday. Less than a week away. Since going gluten free I haven’t really had a reason to wear makeup and even when I have I haven’t gone all out. Recently (before this week) I put on the lipstick I had without thinking about it. I wore it and was sick. So I knew that I had made a mistake and needed to find gluten free makeup before the wedding.
I got out my trusty guide to gluten free: The G-Free Diet: A Gluten Free Survival Guide by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. I bought this book as soon as I went gluten free and it really has been a good guide to gluten free living. The best thing about it is that Hasselbeck makes you realize how much of your own research you need to do.
It has my trusty list of ingredients that you should watch out in personal care products (like makeup). It’s an extensive list and if you are just beginning the journey into going gluten free, not for vanity, but for health, it can seem daunting but rest assured once you make a mistake that has you writhing in pain you’ll commit the list to memory or at least have a copy of it in your phone. The list is in the chapter titled, “Gorgeously G-Free” and starts on page 171 and continues on page 172.
- Amino peptide complex
- Amp-isostearoyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Avena sativa (oat) flour
- Avena sativa (oat) flour kernal
- Barley derived
- Barley extract
- Disodium wheatgermamido PEG-2 sulfosuccinate
- Hordeum vulgare (barley) extract
- Hydrolyzed wheat gluten
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein PG-propyl silanteriol
- Hydrolyzed wheat starch
- Hydroxpropyltrimonium hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Oat extract
- Oat beta glucan
- Oat derived
- Oat extract
- Oat flour
- Phytophingosine extract
- Rye derived
- Sodium lauroyl oat amino acids
- Triticum vulgare (wheat) flour lipids
- Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ extract
- Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil
- Tocopheryl Acetate
- Vitamin E
- Wheat (triticum vulgare) bran extract
- Wheat amino acids
- Wheat bran extract
- Wheat derived
- Wheat germ extracts
- What germ glycerides
- Wheat germ oil
- Wheat germamidopropyldimonium hydroxpropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
It’s an extensive list and can seem scary but I always look for “Wheat” first and then look for “tocopherol” or “tocopheryl acetate.” Most beauty products contain tocopherol acetate. I see those two words (that I’m not actually sure I pronounce correctly) and I put the product back on the shelf.
My problem this week came about when I was shopping for makeup. I was lucky on my first trip and PhysicansFormula had foundation and bronzer that were clearly labeled gluten free and after checking the list of ingredients was glad that it was gluten free. I also found some gluten free eye shadow, the problem came when looking for lipstick.
There is not a lipstick out on the market, even those that claim to be gluten free, that do not contain tocopheryl acetate. Not a one. The chapstick I have been using all year, Burt’s Bees, contains it, as does all other lipsticks on the market.
How can a lipstick company claim to be gluten free and list that ingredient on their box? It’s a frustration of mine, but as the consumer I have to keep a look out for myself.
The problem with that is that lipstick containers are tricky, some of them you cannot read the ingredients in the store without purchasing the product, because the ingredient list is hidden behind the packaging. The other issue is that the ingredients are impossible to read. The print is super small, so small that even my young eyes cannot read them. I needed a lipstick so I went with a couple of brands that I was assured were gluten free (through my research) and they were not. I found this out the hard way. I tried out the lipstick and had a migraine as soon as the lipstick touched my lips. Then came the cramping and by 3 am I was spending every few minutes running to the bathroom. Since I was up anyway I searched for the packing and boxes again, got out a magnifying glass and read the horrifying words, “tocopheryl acetate.” Crap! Luckily I was able to return the products but I was sick all night long and part of the next day because of this oversight on my part and horrible packaging on their part.
In the morning I contacted the customer service people of each company and asked them to make a change in their packaging. I was not asking for money but rather safer consumerism. One company (Bare…) sent me an email stating that they were not at fault for my illness. Okay, that’s not what I wanted. Sure as the consumer it’s my job to do my research, I did and was given false information on websites and forums. I also looked on their website for ingredient information and could find none. I’m not seeking money I just want them to help make my shopping experience easier. Since receiving this email I have been upset with the company whereas before I just wanted to help them make a better product. (But my anger at this company is not what this blog is about).
After returning the items, I went to Natural Grocers and got some lip tint and lip gloss that is gluten free. It said it on the packaging and I read the ingredient list 10 times (and every time I use them) before purchasing the products. I am a better consumer every time something like this happens but I’d rather not learn these lessons, I’d rather just steer clear of gluten.
The second incident happened last night. My sister had her bachelorette party and each of us bridesmaids brought a dish to share. I was about to spoon some meatballs onto my plate and asked the host what she put in them and she said what the sauce was made of. I then proceeded to eat 10 or so of those good meatballs.
Until about 2 am I didn’t think to ask how the meatballs themselves were made. I didn’t think to ask if she made them herself or if she bought them. I didn’t think to ask if the packaging said gluten free. They were good meatballs but they were not worth the horrific migraine, insane cramping, and hours upon hours of running to the bathroom. They were also not worth the muscle soreness today, the trips to the bathroom, the lethargy, and the overall painful, sucky day that this has been.
I could be mad at this bridesmaid but just like with the lipstick company I’m at fault. I’ve lived with this kind of stuff for about a year now and every mistake I make has two sides. My side as the consumer or partygoer and the side of the company or host. I’m at fault because I didn’t think to ask, I didn’t think to triple check and get out the magnifying glass before trying out the product. I didn’t think to question a so called gluten free company. I didn’t think to ask what the meatball was made of.
I will never again make these mistakes. I have thoroughly learned my lessons. The pain is horrific and I cannot wait until this passes through my system and I can get back to life. After all there is a wedding to put on!
Before I go, I have one more soap box to get on. I learned something horrifying this week, beauty products including lotions, lipsticks, hair dyes and so forth do not have to list all of their ingredients on the packaging. They can hide ingredients. So my Celiac friends if you are suddenly ill for a reason you cannot fathom consider going beauty product free for a few days and see if that solves your problems. Then reintroduce a product at a time to find the culprit.
Being Celiac is easier than some diseases out there but it has it’s hiccups and issues like anything else. There are days when I wish I could just eat a piece of cake or have a thick crust piece of pizza but then stuff like this happens and I remember that eating gluten is like poison to my system and not worth the pain.