Getting off FODMAPS

Soooooooooooo.

I saw my nutritionist again this week, and we concluded that if the FODMAPs diet was going to work, it would have worked by now, but alas, no relief. Which means, woohoo! NO MORE FODMAPs FOR ME.

It’s worth mentioning how many people have contacted me saying that the FODMAPs was their miracle cure, how they felt a million times better immediately, and how it changed their entire lives. Don’t take my experience as the be all and end all. It does work for a lot of people.

In saying that, my first day off FODMAPs has been AMAZING. I had tomato and avocado on TOAST, I had rye crisp bread, I had my favourite coconut nice cream. Heaven! And I feel exactly the same as I did before, maybe even a touch better. So what more could you ask for?

We don’t have a diagnosis for what’s causing the chronic pain. Tomorrow I see my doctor and we will discuss the results of a few more tests, and then decide on a course of action. I am pretty keen to not have another set of endoscopies to test for Crohn’s, to be honest. Both my doctor and my nutritionist have suggested that a parasite could be a cause of the problem, despite the fact that “the parasite test” came back clean. It could be a parasite that they can’t test for. The treatment for that would be a long term, broad spectrum antibiotic, which would essentially wipe out everything in my gut and allow the good stuff to repopulate.

In the mean time, I’ve been to a hot yoga class, and tomorrow I’m going to another one as well as seeing my acupuncture doctor and my doctor doctor! So take that, chronic pain!

Thanks for the support from my family and friends I’m actually getting through this. I just cry all the time and watch Netflix, but I’m still here.

Cheers for reading,

M x

Advertisements

Yoga!

I am a yoga no0b, but I felt pretty good about these poses today! Yoga really helps my stomach, maybe not for a long time, but I definitely notice that when I’m practicing I’m almost pain free. Makes me want to literally do yoga all day every day!

While practicing, through trying to allow the mind to quieten, I discovered some positive thoughts which were hiding: Even though the low FODMAP diet hasn’t really been working for me, I have stuck to it day in and day out, through chronic stomach pains and the worst headache I’ve had for a very long time. Okay, so, I had a couple of pieces of toast when I was really down, but overall it’s been a solid effort on my part. I am proud of myself for that.

I stuck to this god-awful diet for three weeks and now I feel like I can do anything. So, while practicing, I made the decision that the next thing I’m going to try is going refined sugar free, and couple this with more yoga classes. I have a good feeling about it helping!

Namaste

M x

Low FODMAP Blueberry Muffins

This is an Annabel Langbein recipe with adjustments!

Ingrediets:

  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Starch
  • 1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1/2 cup Coconut flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup rice milk, warmed
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 1tsp lemon zest

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Sift the flours.
  3. Mix flours, cinnamon and brown sugar together with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps of sugar left. Add the blueberries, being gentle, and stir them in. Mix the egg, milk, butter and lemon zest together (the milk ought to be warm enough that the butter does not solidify when they are combined).
  4. Combine the two mixtures, and fold together with a spatula until there are no dry ingredient pockets left. Be very gentle: overmixing will yield rubbery muffins!
  5. Pour the mixture into greased muffin tins, filling right to the top. Sprinkle each muffin with raw sugar.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Delish!

Acupuncture and Other New Thoughts

Three quarters of the way through! It’s been a bizarre few weeks and I can safely say I have not had any success with this diet (yet). No miracle cures for me, apparently! I’m now unsure if I should stay on it for an extra week or so to see if it just needs time to settle. At the same time, I am craving avocado on toast SO BAD. With margarine and salt and pepper. Get in me. #drool.

A few people have mentioned to me how much change they’ve noticed with their digestive systems since eliminating sugar from their diet, and while I don’t know how I would cope without processed peanut butter, I am contemplating giving this a go, maybe once I’ve recovered from this!

I am also considering going on a yoga binge, and maybe taking it up at Flow Hot Yoga here in my home town. 6.15am hot yoga classes every day for a week or two? Might give my stomach a kick up the butt that it needs!

In terms of a biomedicine diagnosis, my most recent tests for parasites in my gut came back clean. I am waiting on more test results this week, this time bloods to check my liver and kidneys, and another calprotectin test which will tell me if there is inflammation in my gut, which would be indicative of Crohn’s. That would probably lead on to a colonoscopy etc to determine if my symptoms fit more closely with Crohn’s, as it’s been a year since I was tested for it. Obviously, I’m not too keen on going down that road! So unless my calprotectin levels are considerably higher than last time, I think I’ll be leaving that one!

This week I also hit up acupuncture for the first time. I went to the doctor that my brother regularly sees and my bro came with me too, to give me some support. It was so scary, so bizarre, and ultimately helpful in a subtle but noticeable way – not a miracle cure, but I’ve felt some changes in the way my stomach feels after eating, and it’s also been gurgling which it hasn’t done for a long time! I’m really looking forward to going again and observing the changes as they happen. I had four pins: three in my feet, and one in my wrist. The wrist one was extremely painful, I was sure I’d lost the ability to use my hand! But my stomach started gurgling away while I was lying there (screaming and crying) and I’ve been in just a little bit less pain since then. Amazing!

It can be such a frustrating illness because I don’t know what’s causing all the pain, I really don’t think it’s what I eat and that thought has been backed up now that I’ve been on FODMAPs for three weeks and I’m in the same amount of pain/trouble that I was in beforehand. It’s frustrating because it’s fickle and unpredictable and hard to explain to people because they’re likely to tell me what they think I should or shouldn’t be eating, and good on them, I’d probably do the same! And it’s frustrating because it’s looking more and more likely that I’m not really nearing the end of this, that this is just the start of my journey towards a pain free life, and that is just so hard to accept.  I don’t want to spend my 20s in pain all day every day and end up missing out on fun stuff because of the pain and the inconvenience. Thinking about that is scary! And sad! And lots of other things.

So here’s to trying to remain positive in the face of adversity.

Cheers for reading,

M x

“Take care of yourself!” and other confusing instructions

I had a break-down last night. Full on hysterical crying, pounding headache, stomach pains the worst I’ve had in weeks, and associated digestive problems. Lay on the couch with a cold cloth on my head, crying, for about an hour.

I reacted badly to the bread recipe I put up on here. I don’t recommend it anymore! The good thing about making it though was that my reaction to it was severe enough for me to contact my nutritionist, who said she didn’t think eating gluten was a good idea right now anyway, and also my doctor’s office. They’ve said they will run some more tests for me next week, specifically looking for parasites.

Once I cheered up a bit last night I managed to get to a dinner with some friends from the department at Uni. Obviously I couldn’t eat any of the food there, but I’m so glad I went. They’re such great people, and nearly all of them said to me “Take care of yourself, okay?”

It’s such a lovely thing for people to say but today I didn’t really know what that meant. Taking care of myself, to me, is always associated with things like exercising, eating well, getting my assignments done on time, and so forth. But last night and this morning, with a bad headache and stomach cramps, any uni work I would do would be worthless, and I don’t want to do it anyway!

So, what does taking care of myself mean today?

Staying in bed late. Eating two-ingredient pancakes. Watching Netflix. Using my favourite body-wash in the shower. Doing some yoga. Texting my boyfriend. Giving myself a break from study and refusing to feel guilty about that. Watching YouTube. Trying to convince myself that this diet, my internship, my masters, and my life in general isn’t going to fall apart completely.

Although my stomach is still sore, my headache is mostly gone and I’m feeling much happier now. This diet is a million times harder than I thought it would be.

Onwards and upwards,

M x

Low FODMAP bread!

Don’t make the same mistake as me, and line the pan…!!

Here’s the initial recipe. I made a few adjustments for fun and because I seriously did not understand the second half of the recipe. #noob.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 12teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg

Method:

  1. Add yeast and sugar to warm water; set aside.
  2. Sift the four flours and vital wheat gluten into a bowl. Add salt and mix
  3. Beat egg in a small bowl; add vegetable oil and vinegar.
  4. Add water/yeast and egg mixture to flour mix. Mix well. Dough will be very wet and sticky – too wet to knead. (The sorghum flour is more absorbent than the other flours so if you need more water, make sure to pop some more oil in there too.)
  5. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise for about 2 hours. Extra for experts: use a reusable cover like a dinner plate!
  6. About ½ hour before the dough is finished rising, preheat the oven to 200°C.
  7. When the dough is risen, it will be quite wet, but full of air pockets. Transfer the dough to a lined bread tin and cover with tinfoil.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the middle of the oven. Then remove the cover and bake for 10 minutes more. And then keep baking until a stick comes out clean. Ish.

Delish when it’s still warm with golden syrup 🙂

YUM.

Cheers,

M x

How has it only been four days?????

Sorry this blog is a bit of a downer! I’m trying to remain grateful and positive.

So we’re four days into a fully exclusive low FODMAP diet.

The biggest struggle at the moment is hunger at 4ish in the afternoon. Lunches are the hardest meal, as I pack them because I’m at uni all day, and I just don’t seem to be able to get enough food! I have been eating more protein, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Last week I made a giant quiche and froze portions of it (before I was “officially” on the diet!). This week I’ve been making salads and chucking in some chicken – I have a beef mince patty with a salad for tomorrow. And my low FODMAP blueberry muffins are a lifesaver for my sweet tooth!

As of yet I haven’t had any resolve from my symptoms. Still living with a pretty consistent stomach ache, which is especially prevalent in the morning. Still living with irregular bowel movements, and I think my concentration is affected slightly. On the upside, I think I’m less bloated than before, and I haven’t had any disruption to my sleep – which can happen, I’ve heard. If my symptoms are still consistent by the weekend I’m going to get in contact with my nutritionist and talk about what other foods could be a potential problem.

I am starting to doubt that there really is going to be an end to this, and that is scary and upsetting. The pain is manageable, sure, and I know there are people out there who are suffering so much worse than I am, and I feel for them. But I am tired of having chronic pain, and of not knowing what the cause is. I realised today I don’t actually remember what it means to not have a stomach-ache, so I don’t even know if I’ll recognise it should it happen. What if it isn’t actually sore right now, and I just think it is? What if none of this is actually real and I am just imagining that I have this problem? I could drive myself mad. The joys of an invisible illness.

I want to be completely honest on here, because I want to share my true experiences with my future self and with anyone else who’s battling this stupid syndrome. I’m scared. I’m in pain, and I don’t completely trust that this is going to work.

In saying that, I’m grateful for the support of my friends and family – my step dad made a special dinner just for me tonight that was very carefully low-FODMAP! And so many people constantly saying encouraging things and sharing their experiences. Hell, it’s only been four days! What am I even moaning about? She’ll be right!

I go to yoga once a week and my yoga teacher often slips this into class; it helps me get through the day.

Look forward. Breathe. 

One day at a time.

Thanks for reading 🙂

M x

Low FODMAP Flour

It’s the starch in wheat which causes the problems for a low fodmap diet. Taking the gluten free option, which obviously doesn’t have wheat, can be a solution – except that the binding agent used in a lot of GF food is vegetable gum 412, or guar gum. Guar gum is high fodmap! So all the gluten free breads in my local supermarket, plus my favourite coconut nice cream, as well as the gluten free flour I bought (!!!!!!)… they’ve all got guar gum in them. Therefore, they’re off for at least the next four weeks. Damnit.

I found this article written by a pastry chef about low fodmap flours (it’s worth a read!) and adjusted it for what I could find. I also put some gluten flour in to help it bind. I bought mine from Piko Wholefoods for about $32 all up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup White Rice Flour
  • 1 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 1 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1 + 1/2 tablespoon Gluten Flour

Instructions:

  1. Sift each of the flours into an airtight container
  2. Put the lid on.
  3. Shakey shakey shake shake
  4. Go crazy!

So far I have made blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes (I’m on a blueberry buzz obviously) and both were delicious. Just don’t expect it to taste like normal flour! Also I’m pretty sure it’s more absorbent than normal flour so recipes might take a bit of extra liquid.

I’ll keep you posted with what else I put it in and maybe I’ll remember to take photos of my food before just nomming it away!

M x

Nutritionist Appointment

My first one! It was a weird combination of a counselling appointment and a doctor’s appointment. I went to Bek Parry at Positively Nourished, and seriously recommend her.

We talked about the symptoms from which I’ve been suffering for the last 15 months, and she told me it’s likely my villi, which are tiny tiny projections of the wall of the intestine that increase surface area and help absorb nutrients, are severely damaged. This makes so much sense! Malabsorption of micro-nutrients could be compounding the problems I have with digestion. It’s also likely I could have had a parasite initially which would have explained why I had food poisoning for such a long time. That is both fascinating and gross!

We talked about how I respond to stress, and I said I’ve been much less stressed since leaving drama school even though my masters degree is a lot more work, the stress is a different type of stress, and it’s one I seem to be able to handle a little better. How I was feeling overall came up too: I’d not really thought about how the gut can affect all parts of the body and mind, right from a sore tummy, to headaches, to eczema, to anxiety or a depression.  It’s an amazing organ and one that needs our respect and love.

In order to help my gut heal, she has suggested some supplements to take which will give the villi some strength. I will also be officially taking on a complete, exclusive FODMAP diet for four weeks.

I’ll be using the Monash University FODMAP app as a guide. I’m eliminating broccoli for a week, as broccoli can be a trigger food for some people! I’ll be upping my meat intake, which is a bit dah because I was eating a pretty vegetarian dominated diet. The FODMAP diet excludes legumes, which is a high source of protein for a vegetarian. Protein also includes amino acids which help heal the gut. I’m really just trying to make this as easy as possible for myself and that means adding some more meat and eggs to my diet. Gut comes first.

I’m feeling pretty good about diving into this. I don’t know how much more inconvenient this diet will be than having a permanent stomach ache! My stomach has been a bit sore over the last two days so hopefully it fades away over the next week, and then fingers crossed I can start getting some more understanding about what is actually up with my body. I’ve also noticed just over the last week since cutting out a few high FODMAP foods like onion, garlic and wheat, that emotionally I feel a bit richer. It’s exciting to think about how much of an affect this could have on my being. Analysing how I’m feeling and really listening to my body will encourage a more present and conscious mindset. But, it does mean I can’t keep feeding my chocolate addiction (presumably that’s actually a good thing!).

I’m excited!

M x

Beef and Vegetable Stirfry

IMG_20150718_121316~2I found this recipe here, but I have adjusted some of the amounts!
Author: Sue Daoulas
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time:  20 mins
Cook time:  9 mins
Total time:  29 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 500g lean beef, cut into thin strips approximately 2 inches long
  • 1 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, cleaned & trimmed, cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 6 Brussel sprouts, halved
  • 1 Capsicum, sliced
  • 1 Courgette, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Gluten free, reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
  • 4-8 Chinese chili peppers (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cut the meat and vegetables and set aside.
  2. Grate the ginger and chop the chives and set aside.
  3. Heat sesame oil in wok on high heat.
  4. Add ginger and chives to hot oil. Stir quickly and constantly for 1 minute.
  5. Add beef and pepper and continue to stir quickly and constantly until cooked (approximately 5 minutes).
  6. Remove beef from pan. Try to keep most of the ginger and chives (and chilies if using) in the pan.
  7. Add vegetables to hot pan and stir for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Pour soy sauce and vinegar over vegetables and mix well.
  9. Cover the vegetables, reduce heat to medium, and steam for 8-10 minutes (longer if you want softer vegetables).
  10. Remove lid and return beef to pan, sprinkle with sesame seeds if using, stirring constantly until meat is warm.
  11. Serve immediately over rice, or without rice if you’ve gone overboard on the veges like I did!