Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oatmeal and Agave Saga

At one point, in this blog's history, I said that "it took me 6 years before I wasn't getting sick on accident".  Well unfortunately, due to what I am about to tell you, I have to change that statement to say..."Even after 10 years on the gluten-free diet, I am STILL getting sick on accident".  What I'm about to tell you has been the worst contamination of gluten I've had, and the longest period of time that I've been sick since I stopped eating Gluten in 2000.

So the story begins in the market place.  I estimate the time frame is about 1.5-2 (one and a half to two) years ago.  I am in the part of the store where they have the grains and cereals.  I remember reaching toward the shelf with the oatmeal on it - Bob's Red Mill brand.  My first thoughts were something like..."oh good, they carry Bob's Red Mill...they have a dedicated gluten-free processing plant and dedicated gluten-free growing fields..I remembered reading that once on their packing".  I'm a very visual learner and so I could picture in my mind exactly where I'd read that before.  I was positive Bob's Red Mill carried gluten-free oats. I then took the package and turned it over and over trying to find where it talked about it being gluten-free.  There was nothing written on the package to indicate it was indeed gluten free - nor did it mention the gluten free fields and plant processing.  My thoughts continued... "If they invested so much into gluten-free oat fields, and a gluten-free facility, surely these are gluten free....I'm positive that I've seen gluten-free on their packaging before"....  then came that little voice inside me, that I WISH I would have LISTENED MORE CAREFULLY TO, that made me question if the oats were ok.  I remember taking a moment debating the choice I was about to make and then hurridly decided to buy 3 packages of the Bob's Red Mill rolled oats "regular" and  3 packages of the "thick" rolled oats.  I put them all in my shopping cart, it was purchased, it was put in my refrigerator that I keep specially for my seeds, nuts, grains etc....and it was consumed- probably 2-3 times a week.
So, last week, (probably over a year and a half from the time of the original purchase), Shane brings home a package of Bob's Red Mill GLUTEN-FREE OATS.  I stare at the package and then compare it to the package in my pantry. "Ah ha", I yelled..."the big mystery is solved!"  I sat down and pondered all of the weeks in the past two years that I'd been sick.  We had about 1 cup left of the oatmeal I had purchased so many months prior.  I played back my involvement with the church, with my friends, family, had been a struggle many times each week just to take care of myself and my kids...I felt so fatigued so many days out of the week and couldn't find out what was making me sick that I joked with Shane about two things...

1-  I joked about the water that came to our house must run through a wheat grainery before coming to our house...and out the faucet.

2- I felt healthy every time I went to Fillmore (to another home we own) and dreaded returning to Eagle Mountain, because there was obviously SOMETHING that was making me sick.  I couldn't figure out if it was in my makeup, the lotions, the shampoo, if it was an emotional trigger that sometimes causes the same symptoms of getting gluten, if it was a cross-contaminated condiment, the pans were contaminated, perhaps the cutting boards needed to be replaced...I wondered and searched for answers, and unfortunately this went on far too long - the answer was in the bag of oatmeal sitting in my pantry.  I had been telling Shane, for my health's sake, we needed to move to Fillmore.

I knew that I felt weak after eating oatmeal, but always thought it was because of the carbs and sweeteners in the cereal and so fortunately for me I would always have a very small serving of it.  Little did I know it was contaminated with Gluten.

So, here I am pregnant at 24 weeks.  For the first time in a couple years, I am beginning to feel my strength returning.  Most importantly my mental strength.  Church attendance, for me, was beginning to suffer and my husband joked with me that I was his "inactive" wife.  When Shane would leave for church I would lay in bed, tears streaming down my face, as I knew deep down who "Steff Schutz" really is...even if noone understood, I needed to have faith that the Lord knew who I really was and knew that there was a reason for my "inactivity".

The one thing that has sustained me through my trials is that knowledge of who I really am - of that girl so many years ago - that loved life so much that she tried to squeeze every possible activity into her schedule so that she wouldn't miss out on a single thing.  This knowledge keeps me seeking for answers every time I've had a health issue to face.

Now about the Agave Saga...

I recently discovered that Agave is NOT produced in the way that Native Mexican Farmers have extracted it for thousands of years.  The liquid we've been buying is a poor excuse for Agave.  I'm saddened by the "Evil intent of men in the last days" (from the Word of Wisdom) and yet at the same time I feel empowered to do something about it.  If not for anyone else - atleast for my family.  I grew up with a half acre garden, my Mom had practically every berry bush, fruit tree, nut tree, fruit, and vegetable growing in our yard that our climate permitted.  We raised rabbits, chickens, pigs... I remember Mom killing the chickens and I remember plucking them with her.  We raised bees (thanks to my Step Dad), and I loved eating the yummy delicious.

So much of growing up, and the good memories associated with it, were because of our big yard, walking barefoot through the freshly plowed soil, helping to weed and water the garden and relishing as I could go from row to row picking fresh peas, fresh cherry tomatoes, and then I could wander through the berry bushes (that were as tall as I was) eating until my belly was full.

Our underground food storage had rows and rows of canned fruit, vegetables, pie filling, soups, meats, beans, pickles etc.  Now that I am a full-time Mom again, I'm happy to carry on this tradition. 

Unfortunately for me, I cannot enjoy a nice warm piece of home made wheat bread, rolls, or pasta, but I've learned to deal with the intollerance to gluten God has given to me and see it as a blessing.

I'm grateful for all that I've learned and am grateful for the knowledge that has been gained from my struggles.  The last struggle learned was a HUGE lesson that I need to listen to those little promptings from the Lord.  Before buying the gluten contaminated oats I had those doubts. While rewriting my thoughts I was amazed that I actually went through and purchased the product, knowing that I'd seen gluten-free labeling on them before. 

If there's one thing I've learned from the above situation, it is this...

When in NOT buy... and...

If it tastes too must NOT be gluten-free!  =) 

Good luck navigating through this gluten-filled world!



No comments: