FODMAP Diet: A Blanket Update

I realize that I have not been keeping up to date with my journey through the FODMAP diet.  The reasons for my break from writing can be found in other articles, 5 Miles Today; I’m Back and Quarter Life Crisis.  A lot has changed since I last posted about this diet designed to help those with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).  The post I wrote, New FODMAP Diet, New Goals, explains the FODMAP diet in detail.  I also spoke a lot about eliminating sugars that are high in FODMAPs in this post.  I have used several high FODMAP sugars in recipes including coconut sugar, agave nectar and corn syrup and have had no negative side effects.  However, I typically put in far less sweetener than most baking recipes call for, so the amount of the high FODMAP sweetener in the recipe is not usually that great.  Also, I do not sweeten any of my drinks, either green tea or hot chocolate.  Tea I usually drink black and when I make hot chocolate, I just use a tablespoon of cocoa powder, enough hot water to fill the cup about 3/4 full and then top it off with almond milk.  It is super chocolatey and very low in calories.  1 tablespoon of cocoa powder is only 10 calories and the amount of unsweetened almond milk I use is probably less than 10 calories considering 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk is 30 calories.  One downside is that towards the end it gets a bit clumpy, so I usually skip the last sip or two.  If you do need it to be a bit sweeter, a teaspoon or two of powdered sugar works great because it provides sweetness and also helps dissolve the cocoa powder in the water since it contains corn starch.  However, each teaspoon will add 15 calories to the drink.  In addition, I also had given up dried apricots, but I went back to eating them on days that I run since they are higher in potassium than cantaloupes and can be bought in bulk at BJ’s and stored in the fridge for much longer than cantaloupes can.

In the post, FODMAP Diet: Weeks 2 & 3, I talked about giving up sugar free gum.  I eat sugar free gum now on a regular basis and apart from some very mild bloating on occasion, it does not have much of a negative effect on me.  I also continue to take the collagen supplement I wrote about in this post with no negative side effects.  Referring back to FODMAP Diet: Reintroducing Chocolate, I have several chocolate cake recipes that use mostly cocoa powder and little or no chocolate baking bars.  Using recipes that get the chocolate flavor from cocoa powder as opposed to baking chocolate seem to work much better for me.  I also stopped having the feelings of shakiness after I replaced any recipe that called for white rice flour with brown rice flour.

In these two posts, FODMAP Diet: Mindfulness and FODMAP Week 4: UGI, UGH, I talk about Mindfulness.  Although, I’m sure it’s helpful for some, I just don’t have the patience to sit down and close my eyes and think about thinking or whatever it requires.  I do my own form of mindfulness when I go for walks or drive somewhere by myself.  I like peace and quiet, so I think I unintentionally practice mindfulness, which is enough deep thought for me.  Also, the UGI results came back normal apart from the fact that my intestines are all coiled up on one side or something, I guess I forgot to take notes.  Whatever it was, I was told it is a bit uncommon, but does not have any negative side effects, so it has nothing to do with my IBS.  Just a fun fact that makes me unique I suppose.

My latest revelation with the diet is that I do not have sensitivity to all wheat products.  I got extremely frustrated with the diet recently and had a bowl of regular angel hair pasta.  I honestly could care less about pasta normally, but because I felt like I was breaking the rules, it was the most delicious bowl of pasta I have ever had.  Normally, if I eat something that I shouldn’t, I know almost instantly.  10 minutes went by, then 30 minutes, then a full hour and no side effects.  No bloating, no nausea, no running to the bathroom.  It was fantastic, I felt like I outsmarted the diet even though I know part of the diet is reintroducing certain foods to test for sensitivity.  I was so sure I had sensitivity to wheat products because before I was introduced to the FODMAP diet, I had been getting extreme stomach pains after eating meals like egg whites with rye bread or egg noodles in chicken broth.  However, looking back, I was able to eat waffles and bagels which were made of wheat without any problem.  So, I did some research and found out that rye may have a higher fructan content than other wheat products, which would explain the discomfort after the egg whites and rye toast.  I’m still not sure what may have caused the egg noodles in chicken broth discomfort, but one possibility is that the fructans in the noodles combined with the onion and garlic seasoning in the chicken broth caused the issue.  (By the way, if you are looking for chicken broth that does not contain onion or garlic seasoning, I have used these concentrated liquid flavoring packets found on Amazon –  Savory Choice Chicken Broth Concentrate.  I don’t seem to have an issue using the regular cartons of chicken broth that do contain onion and garlic seasoning now, but for those who are very sensitive to these seasonings, these really do the trick.)  Another possibility is that I was under a great deal of stress during this time.  I had an upcoming trip to Disney and was nervous about eating out and trying to figure out foods that I could both bring on the plane and bring into the park for lunch and a snack in case of emergency.  In addition, I was worried about a roofing issue at my house and afraid the contractor I hired would not be able to repair it in time before winter came.  It’s also possible that I had some kind of lingering bug at the time, who knows.  What I do know is that for over a week I have been eating regular pasta and regular bread and have had absolutely no negative side effects.  I even bought all-purpose flour for the first time in over a year.  I think I got a little too excited because I bought a 12 pound BJ’s bag of it.  Oh well, it will get used, trust me.  I also bought a loaf of bread that was not frozen for the first time in over a year.  I am so glad that I can just buy one flour now instead of at least 4 different kinds that I blended together to make my own gluten free flour.  It will save cabinet space and money, considering how expensive gluten free products are.  After going through a period of such restriction, I now have a whole new empathy for those who have celiac disease.  Being gluten free is extremely difficult.  It is hard to find certain ingredients, it is expensive and it is frustrating.  Sometimes you just want to buy a package of crackers or something simple and it’s impossible.

Now that I know some wheat products do not bother me, I think the next test will be whole wheat products.  I am glad I can wheat white bread and regular pasta, but I do like to eat foods that are a bit more nutrient dense, so we will see what happens with that attempt.  I’m also curious if I can start using ingredients like bread flour and whole wheat flour.  I’m not going to try too many things at once though, plus I’ll be plenty busy with those 12 pounds of all-purpose flour for a while.

On another note, I tried to eat Bolognese sauce, since tomatoes are supposedly low-FODMAP.  WORST MISTAKE EVER!  I was so nauseous, bloated and just uncomfortable for almost an entire day that I would be perfectly fine never looking at a tomato again.  Regardless of what the Low-FODMAP Diet says, I am almost certain that I cannot handle anything highly acidic, including tomatoes and oranges.  I also know that anything fried is off limits.  In addition, I also found that I can eat fruits that I thought were going to be totally off limits, but as long I am sure to only eat certain fruits every other day, I am OK.  For example, it would be a disaster if I ate either grapes or bananas two days in a row.  (Fair warning, this next sentence may be TMI for some.)  The two days of grapes would mean being in the bathroom more than I would like and the two days of bananas would be a prescription for an enema to be quite frank.  But, if I eat grapes one day and then eat a banana the next, the two problems seem to offset each other.  Figuring this out was fabulous, because I love bananas and had not eaten them in quite some time.  Now that I know this new strategy, I can have my favorite fruit back in my diet again!

In conclusion, I am sorry if I bored you with this long post about my diet restrictions and eating habits, but I hope that others struggling with many food sensitivities find at least some portion of this helpful.  IBS is no fun, but when you find a way to outsmart it, it feels amazing.


The Daily Post: Blanket





5 Miles Today; I’m Back!

I ran 5 miles today!  I can’t even remember the last time I hit that milestone; many, many months. For a long while, I haven’t had the motivation or energy to keep up with my usual running routine. A good week was a couple 3 mile runs and a bad week was absolutely no mileage.  As I describe in a previous article, the Quarter Life Crisis, I have been in a terrible slump, funk – whatever you want to call it.  I believe the main problem was my dissatisfaction with my job; I felt like my career was on a path of pure mediocrity. (For any SpongeBob fans – the thought of my career being comparable to Squidward’s clarinet playing was devastatingly unacceptable.)  To make matters worse, I was on medication for anxiety that I believe was increasing feelings of depression and I was feeling lonely living by myself and doing the same mundane routines every day.  I constantly felt angry and disgusted with myself that I was allowing myself to play a victim and feel sorry for myself all the time.  But, I felt even angrier that I had no idea how to fix it.  So, as the saying goes, drastic times call for drastic measures.  In a period of about 2 months, I had moved back home with my parents, rented my house to my brother and a friend, quit my job without any prospect of a future job and gradually weaned myself off of my anxiety prescription (with help of a doctor).

At each of these events, I wanted to instantly feel better.  When I moved back home I did feel good for the first few days, but I knew I was still not myself.  Although I was in the company of my parents and sometimes my nana, I still felt separated.  I worried I was  going to burden them with my lousy moods and negativity.  At the time, I was still working at the job that did not fulfill me in any way and I was still weaning myself off the anxiety medication.  It was not long after moving in with them that I decided to quit my job as well.  Because I was living with my parents and had a good amount of savings, I knew it was not totally irresponsible.  So, I gave my notice and felt instantly relieved. But, that didn’t last long.  I got cold feet and gave into the temptation of the possibility of a promotion.  I withdrew my resignation and stayed.  Within a few days, I deeply regretted it.  The feeling of a weight being lifted when I gave my notice disappeared and an even heavier weight fell upon me.  It was like I lifted Dorothy’s house off of me one day and the entire Emerald City fell on me the next.  This promotion would mean continuing to do the same work with the addition of managing other co-workers.  What was I thinking?  I felt extremely embarrassed to have to give my notice twice in just a matter of weeks, but I knew I had to.  Each day I stayed there, I felt more and more miserable.  I didn’t even have the strength to give a full two weeks’ notice this time.  I gave a little over a weeks’ notice and even that felt like an eternity, but I didn’t want to leave without cleaning up as much of my work as possible.  Even when my last day came, I felt like only a small amount of the weight, or a portion of the Emerald City, had been lifted from me.  I didn’t feel like a new person, I wasn’t a born-again optimist like I thought would magically happen the instant I walked out of my office for the last time.  I felt better, absolutely, but still not myself.

A couple weeks after my last day of work, I officially was off the anxiety medication and again wanted instant gratification.  To the contrary, I felt even worse, I even had a complete meltdown one night when I couldn’t find the olive oil I use to make homemade microwave popcorn.  (Again to all the SpongeBob fans – I felt like I was overreacting even more than Mr. Krabs when he lost his millionth dollar.)  I did some research and found that symptoms could be more pronounced for up to several weeks of going off the medication; lovely.  So, a few meltdowns later and I’m finally feeling more like myself than I have in a very long time.  That 5 miles I hit today wasn’t just a running milestone, it was a feeling of being back again.  I’m in control now.  I’m strong again and I’m going to use that strength to try to think more positively and not constantly put myself down.  I know I’m not magically going to be Miss Optimism, but with little steps in the right direction, I will definitely get rid of Wench Negativity!

back in saddle