Eating out with IBS

I’ve got a dinner invitation that I’m not sure I can refuse… it’s a family thing, and everyone thinks they are being kind to me – so I don’t have to cook.  It’s hard to tell family that eating out with IBS and food intolerances is a LOT of work.

However, I am determined to rejoin the greater world, despite having IBS, AND, I’m feeling much more confident after our road trip experience this summer.  So I’m going to do my best to make this dinner out work for me.

My first step is to go online and check out the websites of a few restaurants.  I went with larger chain restaurants, because they seem to be much more aware of food allergies, and will sometimes be so organized they provide nutrition and ingredient listings online.  I checked out three:  Joey’s, Moxie’s, and Earl’s.

I discovered that Earl’s didn’t seem to have a printable allergy/nutrition listing online (that I could find).  Moxie’s has a guide available and it very clearly lists out many of the common allergen ingredients in their food (including the common FODMAP foods).  Almost everything on the menu has either dairy, gluten, onions and garlic, though.  Joey’s didn’t have any of this information on line, but they did have the option of emailing the restaurant with a special request.

I have decided to go with Moxie’s because their on-line information is the most comprehensive (although, you do have to do some digging).  Their website shows the phone number of each restaurant, so my second step is to call them.  I managed to get the manager and he was terrific to chat with.  He assured me that they take food allergies special requests very seriously, and I found this to be comforting.

Moxie's on line allergen information is well laid-out.
Moxie’s on line allergen information is well laid-out.

We’ve booked the restaurant, and now I just need to make sure I eat gently in the days leading up to the outing.  I want my stomach to be calm, and I want my nerves to be collected when we walk into that restaurant!  I think I’ve messed myself up in the past by letting my anxiety get to me, so I’ll work to trust in my plan. (step 3!).

My fourth and final step for preparation will be to print off my chef’s card to bring along with me. I’ll make sure to speak up confidently (but cheerfully!) to our waiter and ask for their help.

I plan on giving this to my server each time we go out to a restaurant!
I plan on giving this to my server each time we go out to a restaurant!

I’ll prepare The Husband by letting him know that he might be on tasting duty if I have any suspicions about what gets served to me.  I will also repeat my usual 30-minute wait request:  I like to sit about 30 minutes after a meal (that I haven’t prepared myself) to see if I have an immediate reaction.  My reaction to dairy is this fast, and I don’t want to be I the car when a case of diarrhea hits.

As for the egg and other FODMAP unfriendly ingredients, I’ll just have to wit to the following day to see if I had success in eating out with IBS at this particular restaurant.  Wish me luck!

 

Road Trip Preparations AKA: Kitchen on the Road

Road Trip Preparations AKA: Kitchen on the Road

As anyone with IBS knows, the thought of going on a road trip doesn’t fill oneself with carefree thoughts of the open road.  There is fear, anxiety and a general feeling of helplessness.  That’s why I thought that making a lot (a LOT) of road trip preparations would really, really be important.

Our road trip this summer is to take us through the American mid-west with a goal of visiting family and doing some touristy things.  The Son and The Husband are eager for new sights and are really looking forward to the journey.  We will be on the road for 10 days, staying in 4 different hotels.  The Husband has been so very supportive, and has booked us hotels with fridges and microwave ovens in the room.

road trip

I am preparing on two fronts:  for Day-to Day meals and for Emergencies.  Here’s my plan for day to day meals…

Road Trip Preparation AKA Kitchen on the Road

My road trip preparations for regular meals means that I am going to be travelling with a small kitchen in a cooler (good thing we have a big car!)  Here are my plans for each meal:

Breakfast

To start my day I need two things to function:  a hot cup of tea with milk (dairy free) and sugar, and something with protein to keep me full.  The tea should be easy, I’ve found small tetra-packs of almond milk that I can bring.  Best of all, they don’t need to be refrigerated if they are unopened!  On the downside, once the container is opened, it can’t be sealed shut again.  Ill either drink a lot of tea each day (to use up the container), bring tape to try and seal it shut, or throw the remaining contents out.  I hate wasting food, so well see how this goes.  For the protein, I’ve decided to bring plain rice cakes and organic peanut butter.  I can eat this in the room with a minimal of fuss – maybe add a banana for flair.  The organic peanut butter needs to be refrigerated, and I figure I can manage this with the in room fridges and our cooler.  I’ll need to bring cutlery, and some sort of container that I can fill with hotel ice each night, as I doubt the hotel fridge will be able to refreeze a freezer pack.

Lunch

This will often be eaten at small road-side diners and I don’t want the hassle of checking with the waitress about ingredients, cross-contamination, and that sort of thing. My plan is to bring along a FODMAP friendly granola bar (heavy on the nuts for protein), or a small Tupperware container of nuts, a small baggie of carrots or an orange.  I’ll need a lunch kit that I can fill up each morning and then have accessible for when we stop.

Dinner

Dining out is usually one of the joys of travel, but I’d rather be safe and healthy than adventurous and sick.  So, my plan is to try and find a restaurant where I can get plain rice, baked potato, or fries that are uncoated and cooked in a dedicated fryer (no cross-contamination).  Also, I think it’s pretty easy to ask for steamed carrots or broccoli, so that will take care of my dietary need for veggies.  For protein, I hope I can get a plain grilled chicken breast, but ‘Ive got a back up plan.  I’ve discovered pull-tab single serving sized tins of tuna – easy to pop into my purse and have in an emergency!

Snacks

For snacks, I’ve discovered that salt and vinegar chips are fairly safe (still read the label as some brands list dairy on the ingredient list – what’s up with that?)  I know this won’t wash with the health food advocates out there, but I’m on vacation and have enough food denial in my life.

Everything but the kitchen sink!
Everything but the kitchen sink!

So, Ill take some stuff, buy some stuff on the road.  Hopefully my road trip preparations will take some of the adventure out of travelling with IBS!

I’m still working on what Ièll bring for emergencies… stay tuned for my next blog….

My 3 Meds

My 3 Meds

Well, I’ve made yet another adjustment to my diet!!  It seems that just following a FODMAP diet isn’t enough for me to have regular bowel functions.  A bit of logic and investigation has led me to discover my new best friends – My 3 Meds.

My 3 Meds

In my posts earlier this month, I wrote that my symptoms seemed to be getting worse.  A lot of loose stools, a lot of gurgly tummys after meals.  I hate living like that so I went looking for yet another ‘tweak’ to my diet.

I sat down and took a look through the IBS Self Help and Support Group Forum (www.ibsgroup.org/forum/).  This is an awesome on-line resource for people suffering from IBS and related diseases – It’s a great place to see what others are trying and what new research is coming out.  Because there are so many causes for intestinal trouble, there are just as many possible solutions to try!  If you haven’t checked out the site yet, take some time to go through it.  If anything, it helps to not feel so alone.

Under one of the discussion forums I discovered something called Linda’s Calcium Info.  This intrigued me even though I am highly sceptical of anyone telling me to take stuff.  However, there were lots of people who seemed to be helped by it, and I already had calcium pills in medicine cabinet so I thought I’d give it a try… here is her suggestion:

With each meal, take a half calcium tablet.  Avoid calcium tablets with magnesium and avoid eating lettuce.

That’s it.  Weird, huh?

I figured that I already needed to take calcium (because dairy is on my ‘no eat’ list), and I had the calcium tablets without magnesium on hand, so…. what the heck – let’s give it a try.

Can you believe it – it worked!  I noticed right away that my stomach was less burbly, and within a couple of days I almost stopped having bowel movements.  This scared me a little, so I only started taking the half-calcium tablet with dinner.  I don’t know what the magic is, but I’m going with it.

Now, just a word of warning – according to the forum, this doesn’t work for everyone.  Some people find that it causes a gas problem.  As I said, everyone is different.  All I know, is that it worked for me.

I didn’t want to pin all my hopes on a miracle cure because of all the summer road trips we have planned – I’m just not keen about being on the road with diarrhea.  So I also began two other ‘treatments’:

  1. I figured that my stool might be soft because my diet is pretty light on fiber.  So I picked up a container of Metamucil and stared taking a spoonful with a glass of water each morning.
  2. My physician, naturopath, and dietitian all recommended that I take a probiotic every day, so I found a good quality one (that doesn’t contain FOS or other non-friendly FODMAP ingredient).

With the combination of the half-calcium tablet, the fiber, and the probiotic I almost feel normal lately.  Regular bowel movements that are of good colour and form, no burbly tummy and no bloating.

It does seem to be important that I take all three, and I will be experimenting to see if it’s critical that I take all three every day.  I’ll also experiment with the lettuce ban.  I have enough banned foods to deal with, I don’t want to add more.

I feel funny calling them  My 3 Meds, as no prescription was needed.  But I feel safe In taking them, and I’m feeling much more confident about the road trips coming up.  Stay tuned to hear how things go…

 

Gutsy Broad’s Coconut Fish

This recipe for Gutsy Broad’s Coconut Fish is a bit of work in progress.  I had wanted to develop something that had a bit of a different flavour (with a limited variety of ingredients, I didn’t want all my food tasting the same!), was easy to make, and was very, very gentle on my tummy.  When I have an IBS flare up this is one of my go-to recipes – I put it together after learning about the FODMAP diet this spring.

Yummy and gentle on the Tummy.
Yummy and gentle on the Tummy.

I had read that coconut and ginger are both good for the digestion system, so I wanted to incorporate both.  You can change this up a bit, to suit yourself.  I did find that I needed more salt than I was used to adding to food.  I think I’ve discovered just how much salt is in prepared foods now that I am making everything from scratch!  My taste-buds miss salt, so I’m slowly trying to wean myself off it (that being said, when I’m feeling icky, I crave salty foods!).

At the time I put this recipe together, I was mourning the loss of Indian curry dishes from my diet.  Too much butter, garlic and onions!  I found that pre-packaged curry spice mixes often have garlic and onion in them, so I experimented with just using the Tumeric, wich has a mild flavour but gives the dish a very curry yellow colour.

This FODMAP friendly recipe serves 2 to 4 people, depending on how big your serving sizes are.  It takes about 25-30 minutes to prepare.  The Son is suspicious of curry sauce, so I pan-fry the fish in a separate pan and add to the sauce at the end.  You could easily modify the reicipe and cook it all in one skillet.

Gutsy Broad’s Coconut Fish

  • 4 fillets of fish, chopped into large chunks. (I use whatever I have on hand – salmon, basa, cod, even shrimp (though shrimp takes a shorter time to cook))
  • Olive oil
  • 5-6 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Tumeric (more or less to taste)
  • 1 Tsp paprika and or chili powder (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1-2 handfuls of washed and chopped spinach (optional)
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • dash of lime juice (optional)

In skillet, sauté the fish in olive oil until cooked and a bit crispy.  It will get very crumbly, but this is ok.

In another skillet, start with sautéing the tomatoes, ginger, and spices in olive oil.  It will get very liquidy, but keep boiling until all the moisture has been steamed off (otherwise this dish is too watery).  Add the pepper and spinach if desired and sauté for a minute or two.  Add the coconut milk and cooked fish and then heat through.  Sprinkle with lime juice if desired.

I serve this with rice or quinoa, and have a side of broccoli or carrots.

If you have a picky eater (ha!  That’s coming from someone who’s following a FODMAP diet!) like The Son, I reserve some coconut milk and heat it with some pan-fried fish, salt and pepper.  Served over rice with a side of veggies, it’s pretty good.  Once his taste buds mature, I’ll be able to do this all in one pan, which will make the washing up easier.

Next post I hope to update you on my ongoing efforts to keep my symptoms in check.  We’ll see what I’m trying and how I’m doing…

 

Prepping for Travel with IBS

It’s been a while since I’ve chatted about how my health is… since going on the FODMAP diet a few months ago I’ve had an amazing stretch of good general health and predictable bowel movements (to us with IBS this is VERY important).

Recently, though, it feels like my symptoms are returning.  Not alarmingly, but still enough to cause me concern.  At this point in following the FODMAP diet I should be challenging my gut with various foods to see what my tolerance levels are.  But…. without even doing this, I seem to be having a few more trips to the bathroom that I’d like. I figure that I’m either not following the FODMAP diet closely enough (allowing hidden ingredients to slip in), or my physical system is changing yet again.  Oh joy.

This is particularly troubling because I have a big road trip planned this summer.  A loooong family road trip across the prairies.  The thought of travelling really makes me nervous and if my gut is unpredictable before we start out… I can only imagine the adventures we’ll have!

I suppose this means I need to get busy and do some big prepping for travel with my IBS.  I’ll look into what might be causing my gut it’s current annoyance, and figure out what I need to do for this trip.  What food do I/can I bring?  What can I buy on the road?  How will I handle restaurants?  It’s obvious I need to be incredibly prepared for this trip.

The Husband has already been very supportive and has tried to make sure that all the hotels we will be staying in will have an in-room fridge and microwave.  Now I just need to do a bit of meal planning, making sure I get the nutrition I need while we are on the road.  We’ve already decided to bring a cooler along, and stock it with my groceries.  I’ve done a little shopping for travel-sized safe foods (dairy and egg free, and FODMAP friendly), and found small tetra packs of almond milk.

 almond milk tetra

This should at least get me through breakfast – a cup of tea with almond milk, a rice cake with peanut butter and a banana.  Nutritious and easy!

It’s the other meals that will require some bigger prepping for travel.  Planning and creativity!

The old saying is ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’, so I suppose I should prepare for the very real possibility that I will eat something that disagrees with my gut.  If it decides to rebel, I’m sure it will do so on a day we are on the highway, with no restroom in sight.

I definitely need a plan for this!  Stay tuned to hear how I do my prepping for travel with IBS….

 

Product Review: Italian Seasoning Blend

One of the things I miss about my old way of cooking is how easy it used to be.  I could use anything that came off the shelf!  Once I discovered that most pre-prepared foods and ingredients in the grocery store contain some sort of item that’s on the FODMAP danger list, my frustration grew as my food stayed boring.  I wanted flavour!!

 One of my biggest frustrations was with cooking savoury dishes.  I used to always reach for our handy ‘italian seasoning blend’ when I was cooking meats and sauces – a practice that had to stop when I discovered it had  onions and garlic added in. 

 I’ve done a little checking and discovered that not all ‘Italian Seasoning Blends’ are created equal.  Not in taste, and certainly not in price!

 To do a small comparison at home, I challenged The Husband, The Son and Myself to a taste test of 4 Italian blends:

 1) Clubhouse italiano ($5.76 for 125 g).  This was our ‘go to’ Italian spice seasoning in the past.  Its ingredient list is: Salt, dehydrated vegetables (red and green pepper, onion, garlic), sugar, spices and herbs (including oregano, basil), modified cornstarch, yeast extract, high oleic sunflower oil.

2) McCormick’s Italian seasoning ( $5.49 for 18 grams). The ingredient list is: Marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savoury, sage, oregano, basil.

3) McCormick’s Italian seasoning (organic) ($6.65 for 15 grams).  The ingredient list is the same as the regular McCormick’s Italian seasoning.

4) Homemade blend of equal parts of :Marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savoury, sage, oregano, basil.  Most of these have been sitting in my spice drawer for a while, so I wasn’t sure if their flavour would still be potent.  I’m calling this blend ‘free’, because I didn’t have to buy anything.

italian spice

 I prepared rice pasta and tossed equal amounts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of spice mix.  Results of the taste test:

 The Husband and The Son both preferred the Clubhouse blend.  I think if I had added salt to the other dishes, and maybe the olive oil was infused with garlic that the comparison would have been closer.

I myself didn’t like the Clubhouse blend.  I haven’t eaten garlic or onions in 5 months and found the flavour too overpowering.  Among the other blends, I couldn’t tell a difference!

 So, I think in the future, once I have used up my purchased bottles of Italian seasoning, I might start just adding a pinch of each of the listed herbs to my Italian flavoured dishes.  Once I get lazy, I’ll probably purchase the McCormicks regular blend –  I’m not really hung up on the organic aspect of the product – I know from experience growing these herbs in my garden that most of the herbs listed in the blend don’t have huge problems with pests, so I’m guessing (hoping?) that they wouldn’t have a lot of pesticides sprayed on them in the first place.  The exception would probably be basil – my home grown basil always looks like I’ve been sharing it with something else.

 Once again I have discovered how important it is to read labels…. A year ago I wouldn’t have guessed that the ingredient list in the Clubhouse blend would be so different from the McCormick blend.  And the labels can tell you a lot about how much you are paying or overpaying for something.  I was surprised that the 2 matching bottles of McCormick’s contained different amounts of product!  At about 5 cents/g, the Clubhouse brand is the cheapest – but that’s probably because of all the ‘filler’, with the McCormick’s organic coming in at the most expensive at 44 cents/gram.

 Next update, I’m hoping to write next about some upcoming road trips we are planning to take as a family.  Travelling with IBS isn’t for the faint of heart, or the unprepared….

TOP 10 INGREDIENTS (That I always have in my fridge)

Now seems like a good time as any to set out what the staple ingredients in my fridge are.  These items always seem to be on my grocery list and most of them I can use in many different ways. 

I’m starting to feel more comfortable grocery shopping – I know what I can get at my ‘big chain’ supermarket and what I have to pick up at a specialty store.  Yes, some of these specialty things are more expensive, but my stomach thanks me by behaving itself.

 Top 10 Ingredients that I always have in my fridge:

  1.      Almond Milk.  Both the Unsweetened and the Regular.  I use the unsweetened to have a glass with dinner, and I use the sweetened for my tea or baking.
  2.       Goat Cheese and or goat yogurt.  When I found out that I couldn’t have bovine dairy any more I was really crushed.  Goat cheese has let me down gently.  I don’t have it that often, but it really adds a creaminess to sauces.  Goat cheese can be made into feta, brie and may other types of cheese, in addition to the traditional chevre.  Goat yogurt is awesome with fresh raspberries and some FODMAP friendly granola.
  3.      Leftovers!  Because there is no such thing as ‘Safe Fast Food’ for me, I always make more than I can eat, and stash the leftovers away.  Leftovers from dinner make easy lunches the next day.  I make sure I use glass (pyrex) storage containers, for safe reheating in the microwave.
  4.       Tamari Sauce.  I had no idea what this ingredient was until I started researching alternative recipes.  Like Soy Sauce, but without wheat or garlic, so it’s great for an IBS friendly stir fry.  Mixed with wine and some herbs it makes an awesome marinade for a pork roast. 
  5.       Carrots.  Must have your veggies!  I am starting to buy these at a farmers market as the taste sooo much better than what is usually found on the supermarket shelves.  After steaming or boiling, I toss them in olive oil and dill.  Once I had them in a restaurant and they were roasted – soooo good and I will definitely be trying this at home.
  6.       Broccoli.  Must have different coloured veggies!  Broccoli is on the ‘be cautious’ list for people on the FODMAP diet, but it’s safe for me (although I don’t eat it by the potful, it is a great side dish).   I’ve learned to cook it without it getting brown and mushy – a key learning moment!  I toss it in some olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt.
  7.       Gluten Free Bread.  I don’t have celiac disease, but I do like to limit the amount of gluten I consume.  I’ve found an awesome bread that is gluten free, egg free and dairy free.  Prepared by the Glutenull Bakery, the quinoa bread is AWESOME, but needs refridgeration to keep fresh. 
  8.       Earth Balance Vegan baking sticks.  This is my alternative to butter or margarine (which often has hidden dairy in it).  I use it for baking and haven’t noticed a taste difference.
  9.       Organic Peanut butter.  I prefer my peanut butter to be as unprocessed as possible and this means preservatives aren’t added.  Because of this, this product needs to stay in the fridge once it’s opened.
  10.  Orange Juice.  Besides being good on it’s own, I will use this as an ingredient in marinades, sauces and salad dressings. 

I could have added a 11th item called: something I bought and am waiting to throw out.  These things are in my fridge because either I bought them thinking that I’d like to try them on a ‘challenge’ to my stomach, but I have since chickened out and won’t risk upsetting my stomach.  Or, I didn’t check the ingredient list carefully enough in the store, and once I got home discovered that a non-FODMAP friendly ingredient is in there.  Currently I have a nice wedge of (expensive) goat cheese gouda in my fridge – can you believe that egg whites are on the ingredient list?  Weird.  I will let it go bad (or try to fob it off on The Husband) and then throw it out.  A shame.

What sorts of staples do you have guaranteed to be in your fridge?  Love to hear from you!

Looking forward, I’m hoping my next blog will be a product review on Italian Spice mix.  I’ve been thinking about my last Top 10 list (ingredients in my pantry), and how boring the list was.  Time to spice it up!

 top 10 fridge

 

GUTSY BROAD’S BOOK REVIEW: ALLERGIC GIRL

 

I first picked up this book a couple of years ago when I was at a desperate point with my IBS and figured that if someone could handle life with severe life threatening food allergies, they could help me handle life with multiple food intolerances.  It had such a strong, positive impact on my outlook that it was the first book I wanted to review… and I have to say, I got even more out of the book on my second read through.

 

The author is Sloane Miller, who has multiple severe allergies.  She’s also a blogger, advocate, consultant and authority on food allergies.  According to the inside of the cover, she “shows how a food-allergic person can live a life not constrained by what she or he can’t eat.”. She does this by using real-life examples (personal and from her practice) to show strategies in dealing with dietary restrictions in everyday life.

 

The book is divided into 3 parts:  You, Relationships and In and Of the World.

 

Part one is where we get to meet Sloane and find out more about her allergies.  She introduces the first one of her excellent strategies called “Team You”.  This strategy, about building a personalized medical team focussed on your needs was terribly empowering.  She follows this up with many other tips and tricks, including how to handle personal feelings of anxiety and shame.

 

Part 3 is about Relationships and she does an excellent job in outlining the various reactions that family members and others can have when you disclose your dietary needs, and how to handle these reactions with grace and strength.

 

She covers a lot of territory, from college room-mates, to first dates to family and work events.  All of her suggestions are practical, doable and empowering (even though some require a bit of practice, I find).

 

I very much appreciated her chapter on finding new ways of looking at food.  “Food is not the enemy”, gave me an Ah-Ha! moment and freed me from continuously waging war with dairy, when there was no way I could win.

 

Part 3 is called “In and Of the World” and provides an endless supply of ideas, tips and tricks and suggestions for surviving parties, celebrations, restaurant invitations and travel.

 

This book is a real primer on how to live with dietary restrictions.  Sloane writes with humour, but you know that she’s had some scary experiences.  Though her style is informal, she still shows how she is confidently certain that dietary challenges are totally compatible with living well. 

 

Resources listed in the back are comprehensive, mostly American but with some Canadian resources thrown in for good measure.

 

This book totally enthused me.  It gave me the confidence to try the techniques she recommends for managing her allergies.  This should be required reading for everyone with dietary allergies and intolerances.  Check out her blog and website (allergicgirl.com)  too!

 

Details:

Allergic Girl By Sloane Miller

Published 2011 by John Wiley and Sons Inc.

About 250 pages

ISBN 978-0-470-63000-9

TOP 10 Ingredients in My Pantry

 

My Top 10 Ingredients (that I always have in my pantry)

 

When I started out trying to follow the FODMAP diet I had already identified a few foods that I needed to replace or learn to live without.  However, as I started to get better at reading labels I was totally blown away by how many processed products have hidden ingredients.   I love cooking, but I hate the hassle of always having to read labels and always having to prepare something from scratch. 

 

These items represent the safest of my safe list.  I almost always have them in my pantry cupboard – if you are starting out on a FODMAP diet, take the time to find these items in a store, clear a shelf and start your ‘safe shelf’:

 

Top 10 Ingredients that I always have in my pantry:

 

1:  Olive oil

2:  Salt and Pepper

3:  Aylmer Accents Fire Roasted diced tomatoes (no garlic!)

4:  Rice pasta

5:  Egg Replacer

6:  Quinoa

7:  Canned Tuna

8:  Rice

9:  GF cake mix

10:  Dairy free chocolate chips

 Chocolate Chips  Alymers tomatoes

 

You will note that there aren’t any items that would be kept in the fridge or in the fruit bowl.  That’s for another list.   I probably will get some flack for putting in the Gluten Free cake mix and chocolate chips, but I gotta have something sweet from time to time.  I’ve found some dairy free chocolate chips and can make myself some respectable chocolate chip cookies  using the cake mix – having these in the freezer really saves me when I’ve got a chocolate craving !

 

Looking through this list I think: Good heavens… this really is the most boring ingredient list in the history of ingredient lists…!  Obviously I need to break out of my shell and try a few new products….

 

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.