Friday, 24 July 2015

The Berry Barn

I went to the Berry Barn for the first time last night. It was a mistake to even go, but it was for a friend's birthday, so I didn't exactly get to choose the location, and I wanted to be there for my friend.

Let me just say right now, that they are not gluten-free-friendly. At all. They might pretend to be, and some people might think they are, but neither the restaurant, the cooks, nor the wait staff have any idea what gluten-free actually means.

So, I didn't have time to look up the menu ahead of time and find out if I could eat anything, like I usually do. When I sat down with the menu, I started scouring it for a salad, or a potato dish, or anything I would normally be able to eat. Then I spotted a small bubble on the menu labelled "Gluten-Free". Awesome!

That section had two items. The first was a gluten-free pasta with vegetarian sauce and gluten-free garlic toast. So I asked our server about the toast, and I learned that they toast gluten-free bread in a contaminated toaster. Well, that makes it not gluten-free.

The next, and last, item was a gluten-free waffle with one trip to the toppings bar. I forgot to ask how they cook the waffle, but I would bet that they use the exact same waffle maker as for all of their regular waffles. However, I'm not sure, so I'll leave that one alone. The toppings bar, however, is a whole 'nother issue. I could see the toppings bar from where I sat, and I knew that it was buffet-style.

Now, this is where it gets complicated for me. I have celiac disease. If I consume less than 1/64th of a teaspoon of gluten, I will get sick. If people are using spoons to dish out fruit sauce onto their waffles, and then putting the spoons back in the fruit sauce, I absolutely can not trust that fruit sauce. If there is a chance anyone has bumped their food before returning the serving utensils, I could get sick.

I realize that people who eat gluten-free because it's trendy will not care about the toppings bar being contaminated. They could quite happily eat anything on there and not notice.

However, that's not what gluten-free means. If you say a food is gluten-free, that means that food is free from gluten. Clearly, the Berry Barn does not understand this concept, because my server insisted the toppings were gluten-free. I was trying to ask if they have any uncontaminated toppings (pre-packaged jams, or maybe a small dish of something from the kitchen), but he absolutely insisted I could eat off the toppings bar.

I gave up, and decided to order a waffle, and just not eat any toppings that are open to other patrons. Then the server asked if I wanted bacon or sausage with my waffle. Most sausages contain gluten from the factory, so I asked for bacon, but I asked if they could prepare it seperate from any gluten. The server told me that the bacon will come into contact with gluten.

Here's a newsflash for the Berry Barn: If something will come into contact with gluten, it is not gluten-free.

I recognize that with a severe food intolerance, it is a risk for me to eat at a restaurant. I realize that every time I eat out, I am taking my health into my own hands. I understand that most commercial kitchens can not guarantee my food will not come into contact with gluten. Most restaurants either have a disclaimer on their menu, or the server will verbally warn me when I order. I understand, and I accept responsibility for that risk.

My problem with the Berry Barn is that they did not have a warning on the menu. The server did not warn me. The restaurant does not seem to recognize that gluten-free food is no longer gluten-free after it comes into contact with gluten. They also titled their section "Gluten-Free" as opposed to "gluten friendly" or "gluten wise" like most restaurants do. If I had not asked as many questions as I did, I would have blindly assumed the food was safe for me to eat, or at least a minimal risk like most of the time.

I ordered the waffle, and I ate it with only maple syrup on top (because the maple syrup was in a squeeze container, there is minimal risk of contamination), and one of those two foods made me sick. I realize that there is always a risk, but there still needs to be better education. Restaurants need to be educated as to what gluten-free actually means.

So all in all, the Berry Barn is absolutely not gluten-free-friendly. If you have to eat gluten-free, if gluten makes you sick, do not eat at the Berry Barn. Do not take such a high risk with your health. And if you know someone who eats gluten-free, do them a favour and don't invite them to the Berry Barn. Pick one of the dozens of Saskatoon gluten-free friendly restaurants that have educated themselves, and are concerned about the health of their patrons.

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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: In Closing

Well, today is the last day of May, making this my last CDAM post!

I may have strayed off topic, but all I wanted was to make a few more people a little more aware of Celiac Disease. I hope I accomplished that!

In closing, I just want to remind everyone that Celiac is a very real, very serious disease and the only treatment is a gluten-free diet. Any contamination of gluten can make a Celiac very sick.

Gluten-free is just a fad diet. For some of us, it's a medical necessity.

Thanks for tuning in!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: 20ppm

Celiac fact of the day: It is estimated that any more than 20ppm (parts per million) of gluten can damage a Celiac's intestines.

That means if you have one million crumbs in something, and twenty of them are gluten, it will can make a Celiac sick. That is about 1/64th of a teaspoon!

I usually explain that if you can physically see a crumb of a gluten product, it will make me sick (crumbs in butter, mayonnaise, on a knife, on an unwashed plate, on the counter, in the toaster...). It doesn't take very much to make me very sick.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: Blog Time

Check out this awesome blog from Erica Derner. She has lots of giveaways, reviews, and she always talks about new gluten-free products. I have her book and love it, and follow her blog religiously.

Celiac and the Beast

I also love Gluten Dude, who answers questions, complains about crappy Celiac things, and is also running the Faces of Celiac wall.

Gluten Dude

And then, of course, for any fellow Canadians, I like to follow somebody who actually talks about Canadian stores and products. I also love the brutal honesty of King Gluten Free, and how he talks about whatever is on his mind.

King Gluten Free

 Those are my top three Celiac blogs to follow. Do you have any favourites?

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: It's All Relative

Celiac fact of the day: People who have a close relative with Celiac Disease have a 10% chance of Celiac themselves, as compared to the <%1 the rest of the population has.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: Allergic

You know when someone says something, and a few hours later you come up with the perfect response? Such a depressing moment.

And then you know when you manage to come up with the perfect response and say it, on the spot? Oh, such a satisfying moment.

I had one of those moments today. Once a month, my workplace serves cake to celebrate all the birthdays and new employees. Most of my coworkers know about my diet restrictions, so I hardly even notice cake days anymore. But one of my coworkers grabbed two slices of cake, and then found out the other person already had a slice. He walked past my desk and this took place:

"Well Robynne will eat it, won't she?"


"Really? Why not?"

"I'm allergic."


"Well, technically I have an autoimmune disorder that causes my body to react to it and make me sick, but you're right - it's not an allergy!"

He laughed and walked away. I don't know if he got the point, or if he'll keep pushing food on me (he's done it before!), but I was pretty proud of my quick reply. Haha.

Oh, and yes, I was insanely bothered by the rather rude "bullshit", but whatever. There will probably always be people who hate on gluten-free-eaters, just for the sake of it, but that's what I'm trying to do - Point out that we aren't all worthy of the hate.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: Gluten Intolerance

Although celiacs only number less than 1% of the population, approximately 25% of people report choosing gluten-free products.

That much larger chunk of people make things both easier and more difficult for celiacs. Because there is a larger audience for gluten-free food, there are more products. It's simply supply & demand. There are plenty of brands that are creating gluten-free food, and most stores now have gluten-free areas (perhaps whole aisles) simply because it is a more popular choice. Restaurants are also offering more and more gluten-free dishes, often offering a gluten-free menu as well.

At the same time, however, that portion of the population makes life more difficult for celiacs. Because gluten intolerance is not as severe, people who choose to eat gluten-free are often unconcerned about cross-contamination, which often gives servers and cooks the idea that all people who eat gluten-free do not have to be concerned.

I've overheard someone announce that they were "allergic to gluten" and then I watched them pick the croutons off of a salad. If I were to do that, I would be violently ill for a week. I've also had to explain to people preparing my food that I need them to change their gloves, use a new spatula, etc, and I've watched them roll their eyes at me.

It's hard, because I will not fault anyone for what they choose to eat. And I'm all for anyone eating gluten-free. However, I dearly wish that people who are not severe would not act as if they are. That's really all I ask. Unless you are allergic to gluten, or have Celiac Disease, please don't ever tell anyone that you have a gluten allergy.


Monday, 25 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: Skin Care

I made a small mistake yesterday. I'm glad I caught it in time, but it still made me very sad.

I went shopping at The Body Shop today, for some new facial skin care. I conveniantly ran out of fash wash and moisturizer at the same time, so I popped in to pick up some new stuff. I looked at all of their facial lines, and picked the one best for my skin. I read a little bit about on their signs, and then picked out four products: facial wash, toner, moisturizer, and a BB cream. They had a really good deal on, so I was pretty excited.

When I got home and was getting ready for bed, I started to wash my face. Just before opening the bottle, I thought, maybe, just maybe I should read the ingredients, mostly to check for parabens.

And there it was, staring me in the face, wheat germ oil. My heart sunk. I couldn't put that on my face, on such sensitive skin, and so close to my mouth, in good conscious.

Well, I thought that if it was just the face wash, I'd be okay. So I check the toner. Wheat germ oil. Then the moisturizer. It was the very first ingredient. My heart sinking, I morosely picked up the BB cream. Nope, it had it too. There was no way I could put all four of these on my face every day. No way.

So I'm taking the products back today. I talked to them, and I'll get my money back, but the big sale isn't on anymore, so I won't get new products for the same price.

It's so strange. I usually neurotically check the ingredients on everything. I read several other products, including the two other things I bought (a foot lotion and soothing leg cream). But the one time I didn't think to, I mess up.

I'm partly posting this to complain, and partly to remind people that celiacs do need to read the ingredients on body products. You never know where gluten could be hiding.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: Celiac and the Brain

When I tell people that I eat gluten-free, or that I have Celiac Disease, one thing that most people don't think of is cognitive decline. As this article finds, there is a link between untreated Celiac Disease and cognitive decline.

Every time I accidentally ingest gluten, I suffer from what I call brain fog, and I know I'm not alone in this.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month: Faces

Check out this page from Gluten Dude showing hundreds of people who have Celiac and what it means to them.

(Hint! Names are in alphabetical order, Recognize anyone?)