So I had every intention to start blogging more and it just didn’t happen. I’ve still been working on getting settled into my new home and it turns out that I developed a bad cast of tendinitis in 3 places on my left arm which has kept me from being able to type much (yay one handed typing), knit, or do much of any kind of crafting. I’m doing physical therapy and I think it’s helping get things back in order, but in the mean time, things have been a little dull given it’s winter here and my arm is rather useless. I have, however, been able to feed my love of cooking during this time, since I don’t have to do much with my one arm and no repetitive motions that bother it (good thing I’m right handed!). ;)
I’ve also been dealing with a slew of stomach issues the last few months. I’ve been a long time sufferer of stomach (and related) issues, but recently it’s just become very bad with constant stomach issues seemingly no matter what I eat. For a while I was getting heavily into vegetarian cooking and Indian food. I had started the beginning of the year with cleaning up my diet by switching to a Vegan Before 6 (VB6), written about by Mark Bittmann. It made sense to me and I’m aware enough about the food industry in America to know that the Standard American Diet (SAD) isn’t doing much good for the vast majority of people, not to mention how it’s impacting the environment. Read it for yourself, though, as I won’t be getting on my soapbox over it here! I just found it would be something that would work for me, both from an ethical perspective and my diet needed to be cleared of all the junk I had been consuming between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
With all the stomach issues, though, I started to wonder if something I was eating wasn’t working for me. I mean… prior to the switch, my stomach had been relatively normal as far as I knew. At least normal for someone that had always had stomach issues, but sometime after ‘cleaning up’ my diet, I started to have a LOT of stomach aches and they only seemed to get worse, not better. I felt terrible much of the time and I was incredibly lethargic. Most people that move to a vegetarian or vegan diet see improvements with those things. My boyfriend, Drew, saw vast improvements in how he felt, while I didn’t even a little. So I started to look at other options. From completely vegan, to vegetarian, to Paleo, to doing a Whole 30. I was looking at and reading everything I could that discussed stomach issues and how diet can help. While reading the book It Starts With Food, I came across FODMAPs. I didn’t initially give it a ton of thought, but it definitely struck some chords with me. I thought I would do a Whole 30 and was debating trying to do it with or without meat (or maybe some mixture to keep with the VB6 idea) when a friend of mine mentioned a low-FODMAP diet to me.
I started reading a lot. MONASH University in Australia has pioneered research on FODMAPs. Essentially, it is a diet for people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This article from The Washington Post does a pretty good job of explaining it. So much of what I read made sense to me and I learned that some of what I thought was ‘normal’ are actually symptoms of IBS I never really associated before. Some new things I had introduced since changing my diet stood out as some possible problems: wheat, legumes, onions, garlic, broccoli, and cauliflower. All are high-FODMAP foods and cause issues for many that deal with IBS and these are foods I was eating quite regularly! Armed with information and The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet (which I got from my local library), I started a low-FODMAP diet. In the first week and half, I noticed improvement. I’ve also found that I’m sensitive to sugar and sensitive to wheat. I ate a few too many gluten-free cookies and found myself with a massive stomach ache and then some panko breading and a tiny peace of coffee cake sent my stomach into fits. And because I don’t learn, over the weekend I had two donuts after being free of stomach issues and suffered the effects for nearly 3 days after.
The most strict version of the low-FODMAP diet is to help heal your gut and then you reintroduce foods and find the ones that trigger you most and find out how what your limit is. For example, if I were sensitive to onions, a dish loaded with them would be a bad choice, but perhaps if it was just a 1/4 cup in a whole recipe for 4 people, that amount wouldn’t cause an issue. There could be certain groups of FODMAPs that don’t trigger you at all, too. For example, lactose may not cause you any issues. Or maybe fructans don’t bother you. (The groups are fructans, galacto-oilgosaccharides (GOS), lactose, fructose, and polyols.) So, I’m working on figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t. When I’m following a low-FODMAP diet closely, I have more energy, less stomach issues, heartburn, etc, and overall just feel better.
I won’t lie. There’s problems eating this way. It’s difficult and it’s especially difficult to eat out. I have to spend a lot of time figuring out meals and making them, largely completely from scratch (so many things have wheat, onion, or garlic – or some combination of those). I’ve been very light in using soy because I suspect I have a slight issue with those, so for now I’m keeping soy milk (most are made from soy beans anyway, which aren’t allowed) and anything with soy in it. I also have been trying to keep my dairy intake to a minimum.
In trying to find things to make, it started to feel like everything has to be modified, sometimes significantly! I kept thinking “why aren’t there more low-FODMAP recipes out there?” Even the ones that claimed low-FODMAP weren’t always and said things like “asses your own tolerance.” I do understand some of that, but man did I start getting bummed out over it. It felt like nothing was safe anymore. Since it’s a relatively new diet, there’s just not a lot out there. I imagine it was like that when people first started getting diagnosed with celiac and had to start avoiding gluten and now there’s tons of gluten-free products, recipes, books, blogs etc.
Since I like to cook and I am a collector of recipes, I thought “Well, why don’t I start blogging about low-FODMAP recipes? I have a blog and I can’t knit currently and even when I DO resume knitting, I can still post recipes, right?” So here I am. Explaining my story of how I got here and what I’m doing dietary-wise. I’ll be posting recipes that I’ve modified or that I’ve created myself. I’m sure the world doesn’t really need one more food/recipe blogger, but documenting my own work that might help some others that are struggling seems like a pretty good thing to me.
Are there any recipes readers want me to cover? I’m always open to trying new recipes and definitely fine with modifying. :)
I hope you all enjoy the food posts that will be heading your way! Til next time!