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.