Happy Friday everyone! I am starting a new tradition on the blog: FODMAP Friday. I have recently discovered that I have a sensitivity to FODMAPs and started a low FODMAP diet. Let’s stop right now and talk about FODMAPS because I had never heard of them two months ago.
What are FODMAPS?
FODMAPS are complex carbohydrates that some people have trouble digesting. There are five categories: lactose, fructose, fructans, galactans, and polyols. If you have been following me for awhile, you know that I am lactose intolerant and that I also avoid gluten. I’m not celiac but I have found I have trouble when I eat a lot of wheat (warning sign! warning sign!). I have had digestive issue for a good 10 years (and probably more). We don’t have to go into graphic detail but the times I have been mistaken for being pregnant way too many times and nights where I have had such bad cramping I couldn’t stand up straight. Let’s just leave it there.
So to give you an idea of what foods are in these categories….
LACTOSE: milk, custard, ice cream, yogurt, milk powder, ricotta cheese
(EXCESS) FRUCTOSE: Apples, figs, mango, watermelon, asparagus, artichoke, sugar snap peas, honey, agave
FRUCTANS: Dried fruit, garlic, onion, wheat, barley, rye, green peas, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, beets
GALACTANS: legumes (beans, peas, peanuts), pistachios, cashews
POLYOLS: apples, avocado, blackberries, peach, pear, cauliflower, mushrooms
As you can see, these are all very healthy foods, and if you know me, you may know these are some of my favorite foods.
What is a low FODMAP diet?
What I have learned in the last few days is that eating any one of these foods in a small amount won’t hurt you (except lactose for me), but when you start combining them in meals, over the course of a day, or even the course of a few days, it can add up and lead to trouble. If you imagine your digestive system is a bucket, you can put only so many of these foods in the bucket before you start having trouble. Essentially the FODMAPs pull water into the intestine like a water balloon and then you have bacteria feeding on them, and essentially you have a big, hot mess in your tummy. I want to reiterate, this is not the case for everyone. Just people who have this sensitivity. I seem to have this sensitivity.
Generally, the goal is to begin with an elimination of ALL of these foods for 2-3 weeks to reset your system. Then you go through a 3-day challenge for each group to see what you can tolerate. So you need a solid 6 weeks to go through this. The problem for me? We are going on vacation to Mexico in 4 weeks. And aside from the fact that I don’t want to be dealing with this on vacation, I also won’t have complete control over my food and how it’s prepared. Not a huge deal until you realize onions and garlic are in one of the categories AND I suspect that group is a problem for me. So I need to wait till we are home before embarking on the elimination and challenge.
Until then, I am tracking my FODMAPS and keeping it low all around. I have be hyper aware of all that I am eating and how my day shapes up in the eyes of FODMAPs. For example, I can have peanut butter but only 2 TB for the whole day (this probably shows my nut butter addiction). Or I can have fruit, but only half cup servings. Or if I am going out to eat, I need to be super strict all day because I can’t be totally sure how the food is prepared and what may be added that I can’t see.
My first week going low FODMAP
There is definitely a learning curve. I bought three cookbooks and read all articles I could find. To be honest, that was probably a mistake. Sometimes too much information is too much information. I have to admit I started the week pretty pissed off and frustrated. I went shopping super early Monday morning so I could shop alone and read labels. The consensus? Onions and garlic are in EVERYTHING. Do you know hard it was to find a hot sauce??? Hard. There are a lot of hot sauce and only one that does not have onion or garlic powder.
Luckily, I have a little experience making my own sauces, dressings, and spice blends. I spent Monday in kitchen making salad dressings, a strawberry jam, some fun lemon poppyseed muffins, and of course, dinner that night. I was still feeling lost and not sure what I was doing so I was happy that I could schedule a meeting with a dietician mid-week.
My meeting with the dietician was crucial. I was, of course, still doing some things wrong. Apparently, you can only have almonds in small doses. I found this out after bragging about my breakfast of almond milk yogurt with blueberries and sliced almonds. And you know what my go-to on-the-go snack is? Almonds. Oh, and remember those awesome muffins? Almond flour. I’m an almond beast. Not anymore….
She was able to explain things to me in ways I could understand and all in all, just make me feel better about taking on this diet. I was questioning whether I really needed to be on it or if it was the answer for my problems. The answer was a resounding YES! And I have to admit, 5 days in and I already feel a ton better.
Challenges and Wins
The biggest challenges I faced this week was essentially trying to learn a whole new way of cooking. So many recipes just don’t work on a basic level when dealing with FODMAPS. For example, I thought I pulled out some good pulled pork recipes only to find out when I was trying to get it into the slow cooker that the recipes required ingredients with garlic or ingredients that I didn’t have. I had to improvise on the spot. It turned out great. Unfortunately, I am not totally sure what I did because I was frazzled and not interested in recording it.
I have had some major fails, like this overnight French toast.
I was so excited to come home from Burn bootcamp to make this and it totally fell apart! Luckily, I was able to whip up a regular version.
I would have never topped my French toast with sliced almonds and bananas had I not read that particular recipe. It was delicious and I felt like I was eating at a restaurant. The bananas add a sweetness with the crunch of almond, pair that with salted ghee and a little drizzle of maple syrup- heaven!! And by the way, that was pretty much my allotment of almonds for the day so I really enjoyed them!
I also made a point to plan out my lunches this week as I have a tendency to graze on high FODMAP foods at lunch. Because I had to really think about lunches, I ate some really good ones including these turkey lettuce wraps with mayo, mustard, peppers, and cucumbers served with homemade hummus (no garlic), plantain chips, and more veggies.
Despite the challenges, I felt that it was a successful week and I am very excited about the possibilities that await in recipe development. And as I move forward, I will try to do a better job at recording my recipes so you can enjoy the dishes as well.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone. If you have a question about FODMAPS or want some more information, let me know.