FOODS THAT MAKE MY GUT ANGRY

 

I was thinking that I would share with you what foods I’m currently avoiding because they give my digestive system a hassle.  I’m technically on the challenge phase of the FODMAP diet, but I’m finding life so enjoyable without IBS symptoms that I’ve been reluctant to risk getting sick again – it’s easier (for me) to avoid everything and feel good!

 

Food Intolerances:

 

DAIRY:  My system cannot tolerate any amount of bovine dairy, in any form.  It’s more than just a fermentable issue with me – the smallest amount of even the ‘safe’ dairy (american cheese, parmesan, yogurt) will send me running to the washroom with watery diarrhea within a half hour (usually sooner).  I’m lucky that I can tolerate goats milk and related products (different protein makeup), so this has taken the sting out of loosing this food group.

 

EGGS:  My IgE blood panel tells me that it’s just the egg whites that my system reacts to.  However, this reaction is so strong (intense headache, fatigue, bowel discomfort) that I have written off all egg products. 

 

BEEF:  Eating a steak will result in me staying awake all night as I suffer through every groan, cramp, twinge and strain of my gut trying to break this meat down.  I can have a bite of steak (my husband is pretty good about sharing), but I haven’t chanced much more than that.

 

STRAWBERRIES:  Eating a few of these has me running to the bathroom with diarrhea and cramping within a few hours.

 

And FODMAPS.  FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols – the carbohydrates that are malabsorbed in my intestine.  I get very confused as to what an Oligo vs Fructan vs Fructose are, so bear with me…

OLIGOSACCHARIDES:  My excellent FODMAP App from Monash University tells me that fructans and galactos are in this group (FOS and GOS for short).  Vegetables like garlic, legumes and onions are listed.  Fruit like nectarines, peaches, apples and watermelon are included.  Grains like barley, rye, wheat are included.  Nuts like cashews and pistachios are included too.  This carbohydrate is also disguised as inulin on ingredient listings. 

I definitely have trouble with garlic and onion.  Apples are out for me.  I haven’t really challenged the rest.  The Monash FODMAP app helpfully lists some foods that have moderate Oligos-fructan/FOS and or GOS  – I’ve been avoiding these so maybe it’s time to try and start my food challenge with these items.  I know a serving of broccoli (listed on the app as having ‘moderate Oligos -fructan/FOS and or GOS’), at dinner doesn’t upset me too much.

DISACCHARIDES: lactose (dairy).  I stay away from all dairy, not sure if it’s an intensive reaction to the carbohydrate or the protein (casein).  Dairy causes my most immediate, intense reaction.

MONOSACCHARIDES:  one molecule sugars.  Glucose, fructose and galactose (lactose) are here. Honey, high fructose corn syrup, and fruits like apples and mangos are included.  I know honey and apples mess me up, so I’ve been avoiding these too.

POLYOLS: Polyols are sugar alcohols.  Sorbitol and mannitol (found in some fruits and vegetables and often found as artificial sweeteners) are some of these.  Cauliflower, mushrooms, snowpeas, peaches, watermelon are listed as having high mannitol levels, and I have been avoiding them. I know that giving up gum was one of the things that helped alleviate my symptoms so the artificial sweeteners are obviously a problem for me.

So, in a nutshell, most food makes my tummy grouchy.  This leaves me with limited options as far as cooking goes – most helpful ‘low FODMAP’ recipes are out for me (or need a lot of adjusting) because they will include eggs or dairy of some kind.

Watch for my next posting, where I list the Top 10 ingredients that I keep in my pantry. 

My Journey, Part 2

To manage my IBS symptoms, I had about 6 or 7 months living (begrudgingly) happily without milk,  but then the symptoms returned.  Terrible headaches (deep in my eye-sockets) and unpredictable diarrhea.   Bloating, cramping, exhaustion.   

A trip to my Doctor was of not much help.  After I described my symptoms and my test results were reviewed, (remember, the tests show that I am ‘healthy’), the Doctor looked at me sadly and said “unfortunately, we are seeing a lot of this sort of thing.  It’s very common”.   

And that was it!!  Not much of a plan of action, is it? 

I was pretty desperate for some help, and now not really enthused about the medical community (I know: one doctor a whole community does not make). Needless to say I was pretty frantic.  I knew that I couldn’t keep on living with the cramping and the hours of sitting on the toilet, never mind the accidents which were embarrassing and kept me trapped more and more often at home. 

 A good friend of mine had had some success with similar issues after she had seen her naturopath.  I was very reluctant to take this path, as I really didn’t know what naturopaths did. 

I envisioned an ancient and wizened practitioner who tried to sell me a variety of ill-smelling and expensive powders and potions. 

I was very wrong.  My naturopath has had extensive medical training, is young and has really never tried to sell me any ‘potions’.  We both believe that we should get our nutrition from food and not additives. 

What she did do, though, is spend an entire hour going over my history, symptoms, a diary of food that I had been eating along with tracking symptoms, and my medical test results.  It felt so good to be finally heard and taken seriously!   

On her recommendation, I took a basic food panel blood test.  It shows the antibodies (IgE and IgG4) that your body creates when it is struggling to accept various foods.  The way I understand it,  higher antibody levels indicate that your body is REALLY not happy with what it’s dealing with. 

I was floored by the test results.  Dairy, Beef, Green Beans, Kidney Beans and Eggs all scored in the ‘not safe’ zone. 

This took me a while to process.  Firstly, I had thought I had already eliminated dairy from my diet – in which case my body shouldn’t still be fighting it.  My naturopath suggested that I need to be more vigilant in reading ingredient labels.  She was right – I had been missing hidden dairy in a lot of products.   

Beef, I had started to suspect that something was a problem here.  After eating a lovely barbequed steak one evening, I spent the wee hours of the morning curled up in agony on the couch – I could almost feel my gut having difficulty processing the meat. 

Green Beans?  What is up with THAT?  Green beans are  supposed to be GOOD for you. 

Kidney beans?  Never was a fan.  Easy to give these up. 

Eggs?  Well, now.  I may have been willing to eliminate dairy from my diet, but eliminating eggs would be another thing altogether.  I like to bake.  I love fried egg sandwiches.  My go-to fat free dessert is angel food cake.  No, not eggs too. 

As if to prove a point I made an angel food cake that evening.  Enjoyed it tremendously.  And spent the next day in bed.  Yes, yes eggs too. 

My Naturopath also suggested that I take a high quality pro-biotic as well as a fiber supplement, and to diligently track what I eat.   

I was happy I had a plan of action.  And I got results almost immediately –  once I removed the offending foods from my diet I quickly felt better physically (no diarrhea, no headaches).   

Mentally was a different story.  The feeling of loss was pretty strong.  I wanted to talk to someone about this, but I doubted there was a ‘mourning the loss of your favorite foods’ support group out there. 

So I ploughed on, looking for help with books I picked up from the library and searching for information on the internet.  I was pleased and amazed to know that I wasn’t alone.  I still don’t understand how there can be such a large group of unwell people out there, and the medical community or marketplace seems to ignore us entirely.   

Armed with my new sources of information, I was determined to get back to enjoying life again. I was done with being ill! 

Ha!