Granola for Breakfast

Granola BreakfastOn the days I don’t have toast, I usually have granola for breakfast.  I love the crunchy, nutty flavour, and bursts of berries!  When I first discovered that I reacted badly to dairy I thought I’d have to give up my habit, but I was soooo grateful to discover that my system tolerates yogurt made from goat’s milk.  It definitely was an ‘hallelujah’ day for me…

 

I have found an off-the-shelf product that is FODMAP friendly – I found many granola mixes on the market have ingredients that are off-limits for those of us on a low-FODMAP diet.  Honey, apples, dried fruit, almonds… you name it.  My go-to product is Nature’s Path Coconut Chia Granola.

Store bought granola

 

 

 

 

 

For variety, I also make my own granola.  A recipe that I’ve been using for a couple of years now is:

Gutsy Broad’s Home-made Granola

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups of any combination of nuts, seeds, coconut
  • 1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg

Mix well.

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Heat the liquids in a small saucepan until warm (not hot).  Pour over the dry mixture and stir to combine.  Spread over a parchment lined pan, bake at 325 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes.  Cool and store.

I can’t remember who authored the base for this recipe – I found it in our local newspaper the Herald a long while back.

For breakfast, I’ll use a small scoop of yogurt, about half a cup of granola and then a handful of washed berries.

granola extrasHaving granola for breakfast is one of my ‘I don’t have to think about it’ meals – which I find important on busy mornings.  Granola keeps well in the cupboard and is easy to have around, or transport.

 

Meal Planning for Breakfast

I’ve been doing some thinking on how far I’ve come from when I first figured out I had IBS and discovered the FODMAP diet.  Besides the constant threat of diarrhea and the pain associated with it, what I remember clearly is the panic I felt around the question ‘what can I eat today?’. I didn’t start out consciously meal planning for breakfast, but I do have a small list of go-to menu items that make it easy for me to start my day AND to grocery shop for.

I can readily admit that I’m not a health nut.  I try to eat balanced, nutritious meals, but I don’t calorie count.  Maybe I’ll get there, but for now, I’m mostly just concerned about the basics about feeding myself.  I love eating for pleasure (having candles on the table makes food taste better, somehow), and can’t see myself gulping down a kale smoothie just ‘because it’s good for me’.  Maybe someday, but not today.

If anyone reads this and is starting out on their FODMAP journey, I hope you can get some inspiration from this post.  I shop at two stores: Safeway and Planet Organic.  Hopefully the ideas will make life just a teeny bit easier for you…. I’ll include recipes in later posts…

Granola Breakfast

toast

 

 

 

 

Breakfast – Weekdays

I tend to alternate between two menus during the week.  Easier to buy groceries for, easy to prepare on mornings when I need to eat before I’m fully woken up.

  • allergen free (gluten, egg, dairy, FODMAP free) bread, toasted, spread with organic crunchy peanut butter and topped with slices of bananas.
  • a dollop of goats-milk yogurt (for some reason my body can handle milk from goats but not a cow), granola (either a low-FODMAP kind from the store or home-made), and fresh berries sprinkled on top (I alternate between raspberries and blueberries, and have discovered that I can tolerate a small amount of blackberries (high on Polyols on the Monash FODMAP app).

scones baked

Breakfast – Weekends

If I’m lazy, I stick to the above.  But I do enjoy baking, and preparing foods with my family so will have one of the following for a special breakfast on a weekend.

Pancakes

  • Oat scones topped with marmalade.
  • Allergen free pancakes, with fruit salad (made with whatever I have on hand that’s got a green light from the Monash FODMAP app), and bacon. Served with pure maple syrup.

Breakfast – on the road

  • Travelling can be a real challenge for someone with IBS.  If I’m staying in a hotel, I make sure I have my rice cakes and organic peanut butter with me.  I’ve found that as long as I’m at a table of people who are ordering off the menu, my bringing food doesn’t cause much of a stir (I do try to be a little discreet, though). If I get an odd look, I’ll order a side of bacon off the menu and that seems to make everything OK.  On the bonus side, crispy bacon on a peanut butter slathered rice cake is incredibly yummy.

And those are about it.  I’ve experimented with other options, but these seem to be my go-to menu items.  At first, deciding what to eat can be daunting, but I’ve discovered that meal planning for breakfast doesn’t have to be a mind-bending, expensive or earth shifting experience.  Good luck to your own breakfast plans!

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 1

So where did my IBS adventure start?   

 I started developing symptoms about 2 years ago (it seems much, much longer than that).  At first I thought I had a stomach flu that just wouldn’t go away!!  I was truly miserable.  I soiled my pants.  Running to the bathroom became an awful sporting event.  As you probably know from your own experiences, feelings of anger, sadness and desperation all take turns in your head. 

Then it tweaked on me that dairy might be the problem.  I made this discovery while I was on vacation –  I don’t eat very well on vacation: wine instead of milk, a snack of fries instead of yogurt, you get the gist… 

Once I discovered what was giving me trouble, I had to decide what to do next.  I had many, many worries.  What if there is something really wrong with me?  How can yogurt possibly be bad for me?  How can I live the rest of my life without dairy?  Is that even possible? 

My biggest fear was wondering what could be causing this.  Peoples stomachs just don’t suddenly start disliking certain foods, do they? 

I met with my Doctor, and she assured me that yes, stomachs sometimes suddenly do just that.  She thought it would be a good idea for me to have a couple of tests to make sure there wasn’t something structurally wrong with me, and so a stool sample as well as a colonoscopy with biopsies were arranged.   

Let me be the first to tell you, these are very, very fun tests to take.  If you have any sense of pride and modesty, just take a deep breath and learn to love your wild side. 

 On the bright side, everything came back clean.  I was healthy!!  (insert maniacal laughter here). 

So, all that was left for me to do, was to remove dairy completely from my diet.  This was a pretty big change for me,  and besides being irrationally irritated at the thought of life without cheese I also had a worry about long-term consequences.  My mother has osteoporosis, so cutting dairy out of my diet probably wouldn’t be good for me, right?  

I was feeling pretty low at this point.  It seemed that my life was turning into a life of denial.  Not that I was a big glutton before, but it’s always unpleasant to have options taken away from you.  

My next stop was to a Registered Dietitian.  This was a really positive experience, partly because of a lucky coincidence – she was also lactose intolerant.  She was able to give me lots of pointers:  how to ensure I’m getting enough calcium, how dairy can be disguised on a food label  (who knew there were so many code words for ‘milk’?), and even what sorts of dairy alternatives exist in the grocery store.   

 She wanted me to test for my tolerance for dairy – and I discovered in a rather unpleasant way that just a spoonful of yogurt has nasty consequences for me. 

My Dietitian did suggest trying goats milk cheese –  the protein in goats milk is structurally slightly different than in cows milk.  By now I was terrified of anything dairy, and was reluctant to just give it a try.  I quizzed the folks at my local cheese boutique as well as the cheese stall at my local farmers market.  Once convinced that the two dairy products are in fact quite different I summoned up the courage to try chevre (the word for cheese made from goats milk).  I was thrilled to learn that goats milk is an option for me! 

So, from my Physician I learned I was healthy (ha ha) and from my Registered Dietitian, I learned how to ensure I would get my daily calcium needs met… as well as finding out that my life could go on. 

Once I got dairy out of my diet, I was thrilled to discover side benefits – no more running to the toilet, and (bonus round) no more of those weird  headaches I had been getting for years.

 Yay!

 It was a “cure” (I understood that it wasn’t really a cure) like many others – a cure with a price.  I was pretty angry that I had to give up dairy, and all the foods it hid in.  Chocolate bars will be forever off limits to me.   Here’s my embarrassing confession:  every time I’d see that commercial with happy women saying that my bowel problems would go away if I just ate more yogurt I would go and buy some.  Talk about the power of marketing!!  I’d be too scared to eat it, and always end up throwing it away.  What a terrible waste…

 Yup, a cure with a price.    But I’d take it.