Project Elimination: Week 2 – I make a mistake!

On Sunday I went through to Edinburgh with my wife and we had a lovely day out, but I must confess that I made a big mistake when it came to lunch. Hunger got the better of me and we went to a Pizza Express that was nearby. I made a good choice by going for the gluten-free pizza base, but they’re not nearly as tasty as their standard bases and it certainly paled in comparison with the fantastic gluten-free pizza bases you can make with the Grass Roots gluten-free pizza base mix you can buy online from FODMarket.

Anyway, I ordered my pizza and when it came I made short work of it. I didn’t suffer any ill-effects immediately, but later that evening after dinner I started having painful intestinal spasms and bloating. After giving it some thought I realised that, for all that I’d chosen the gluten-free pizza base and vegan toppings, such as dairy-free cheese and low FODMAP vegetables, there was a high chance that the pizza sauce contained garlic and possibly even minced onion.

I think that’s where being prepared on the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet comes in because I made a mistake by allowing myself to get too hungry which led to me making an impulsive decision about what I would eat. Sadly, I know that if I’d been at home I would have been able to prepare myself a suitably low FODMAP meal, but because I was outside I just went with whatever was handy nearby.

This experience has made me realise that I think this has wider implications for people who follow the low FODMAP diet, regardless of whether they’re on elimination, reintroduction or maintaining, and that is the cold hard fact that it is hard to eat out on the low FODMAP diet.

One thing I omitted from last week’s blog post was that I’d decided against visiting my step-daughter and her family overnight last Wednesday because I knew that I would have to bring my own food and prepare my own meals because they eat a largely vegetarian diet and it would most likely be very high FODMAP.

And do you know what? Aside from the hassle factor of cooking meals for myself (never mind the cost aspect too), the main reason I decided against going to visit was because I felt embarrassed. I was embarrassed and self-conscious that I was following an eating regime which set me apart from the family and meant that I had to eat differently from them. I was embarrassed that I would have to bring low FODMAP ingredients with me to make meals specific to my own requirements.

And that makes me sad.

It makes me sad to realise this because my family would never judge me for taking care of my own health and eating whichever way is best for me.

However, it’s sad that I should feel self-conscious about taking care of myself and eating the right foods during the elimination process in order to identify what doesn’t agree with my gut.

It’s Monday now and my gut is steadily quietening down thanks to a combination of medication and eating healthy low FODMAP food, but I have to say that I am glad I had my experience yesterday because it really brought home to me the importance of making the right food choices for myself.

I’ve enjoyed being fairly symptom free on the days I’ve eaten sensibly low FODMAP and I didn’t enjoy having them return after yesterday’s mistake. It’s made me even more determined to continue seeing through the elimination phase and, once that’s completed, start identifying the higher FODMAP foods I can successfully tolerate and the ones I can’t.

I think that the low FODMAP diet is still in its infancy, but I eagerly anticipate the day when our shops, supermarkets, cafes and restaurants are all FODMAP educated and there’s a plethora of low FODMAP foods available to us in the same way that we now have a much wider awareness of coeliac disease nowadays and the importance of coeliacs eating a gluten-free diet.

This post has been somewhat rambling and I apologise for that, but I hope the honesty of my words makes it clear to anyone else out there who struggles with IBS or is in elimination and makes a mistake or feels self-conscious about making food choices as a result of their own dietary needs, that it’s okay.

You can make whatever requests you need to make food suitable for you when eating out.

You can bring your own low FODMAP food with you to places if you need to.

And ultimately, you’re entitled to take care of your body in whichever way is best for it because it’s where you live and you deserve the very best.

With love,

Jane (The Fat Foodie) xxx

Lesley Reid, King’s College Professional FODMAP Qualified Dietitian

Here are the details for Lesley, the FODMAP Trained Dietitian, who is taking me through elimination:

Telephone: 07777640035

Email: info@lesleyreiddietitian.co.uk

Project Elimination: Week 1 in Elimination Phase

Today is Friday the 15th and I’ve been on the elimination phase for six days. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a bit taxing at points, but it has been worth it. I’ve definitely noticed a decrease in bloating and overall gut discomfort.

I’ve been tracking everything (and I really do mean everything!) religiously on the free version of the MySymptoms app that my dietitian, Lesley, suggested and it definitely makes you more aware of what you’re eating and how much you’re having.

The main thing I’ve noticed about going into the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet is the importance of planning your shopping list for the meals you’ll eat in the week or weeks ahead. I’ll give you a rundown of my week’s meals further on, but at the very start of this process I used the Monash app to make myself a list of low FODMAP foods and the exact quantities I could have in order to remain within the low FODMAP limit for them. This might seem pedantic, but it made things much easier when it came to planning what I was going to eat.

It makes the elimination phase a lot easier when you have the peace of mind to know that there are a few meals you’ve got on standby that you can reach for when necessary instead of mindlessly staring at the contents of the fridge or cupboards trying to figure out what meal you can make that’s going to be suitable.

When I was preparing my list of low FODMAP foods I was struck by the fact that the majority of the foods were traditional foods that we would have eaten in the past, such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, cabbage, kale, spinach, common tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, radishes, green leek tips, pickled beetroot, rhubarb, raspberries, oats, maize, rice, and vinegars.

These are all foods which would have made up the staple diet of our ancestors because they would have been grown on our own shores, so isn’t it interesting that they’re the foods which are least likely to cause us digestive discomfort? Perhaps it’s just the historian in me that’s making these correlations, but I find it a very interesting link. It makes me wonder if the wide ranging diet we’ve become so accustomed to due to the availability of a plethora of worldwide foods in our supermarkets (and the easy availability of junk food) has had a negative effect on our guts. It’s just a thought, but I’d welcome anyone’s thoughts on the subject.

Another thing I’d like to mention is the importance of having suitably low FODMAP ingredients in your cupboards before you start the elimination phase. One thing I’d forgotten to pick up was Massell 7s stock cubes and on the first day of elimination when I made soup for lunch I sorely regretted it. Needless to say, I bought some online later that day and had them delivered promptly! Trust me, they make such a difference when you’re cooking from scratch.

On the subject of cooking from scratch, I think that if you want to successfully go through the elimination phase without accidentally eating high FODMAPs, making your own food is the way to go, with the exception of things like gluten-free bread. If you make your own food you can control what’s going into it and, subsequently, your body.

I have to say, I’ve eaten well this week and with the exception of finding myself without a sweet treat to satiate my sweet tooth during the week (which I swiftly corrected by baking some low FODMAP cookies) I haven’t really missed anything.

As I said in a previous post, I’m going to write another cookbook which will include all of the recipes I’ve created during the elimination phase, but here’s a list of my meals this week. I hope you enjoy the thought of them as much as I enjoyed eating them!

Sunday

Breakfast: Gluten-free Crumpets with Fried Eggs

Lunch: Carrot, Ginger and Turmeric Soup with a gluten-free tuna sandwich

Snack: A banana and a mandarin

Dinner: Pork Loin in a Spinach and Sage Sauce with new potatoes and carrots

Monday

Breakfast: A gluten-free herb scone with devilled eggs.

Lunch: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with a gluten-free sandwich

Dinner: Pork Loin Chop with Rocket and Red Pepper Salad

Tuesday

Breakfast: Overnight Oats with Blueberries and Raspberries

Snack: Fruit Salad

Lunch: Sardines on toast

Dinner: Meatball Pasta Bake

Dessert: Gluten-free Chocolate Cookies

Wednesday

Breakfast: Quinoa Porridge

Snack: Banana

Lunch: Leftover Meatball Pasta Bake

Dinner: Pork Burger with Smoky Potato Wedges

Thursday

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with a Herb Scone

Lunch: Carrot and Tomato Soup with a gluten-free sandwich

Dinner: Yakitori Chicken Kebabs with Kale Egg-Fried Rice

Dessert: A slice of Chocolate Orange Salami Traybake

Friday

Breakfast: Raspberry Buckwheat Muffins and a banana

Lunch: A baked potato with tuna

Dinner: Jerk Pork Loin Steaks

So, all in all, a very tasty week with decreasing digestive discomfort! Roll on week 2!

Lesley Reid, King’s College Professional FODMAP Qualified Dietitian

Lesley’s details are:

Telephone: 07777640035

Email: info@lesleyreiddietitian.co.uk

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Cucumber and Mint Salad (serves 4)

Cucumber and Mint Salad by The Fat Foodie

I’d say it’s fairly well known that I prefer my salads to be on the robust, substantial side, so it’ll not come as a surprise to you that this Cucumber and Mint Salad can be eaten either as a side dish to accompany a piece of grilled fish or chicken or on its own as a fresh lunch.

This Cucumber and Mint Salad in itself is very simple, comprising of just cucumber wedges, sliced bell pepper and cubes of salty feta cheese, but it’s elevated to something quite wonderful by the minty vinegarette it’s dressed in.

The standard vinegarette ingredients of white wine vinegar and olive oil are enhanced by the addition of dried mint and lime juice, creating a salad dressing which is tart, but herby at the same time. I’m not a big fan of salad dressings with a strong vinegar flavour, so I tend to make my vinegarette on the conservative side, but feel free to add more white wine vinegar or dried mint to yours, if you wish.

I make this Cucumber and Mint Salad a great deal because it’s perfect on the side of a piece of grilled salmon or chicken breast, but it also satisfies my appetite as a packed lunch at work. It’s just a great all-rounder salad choice.

Ingredients for the Salad Base:

1 cucumber (diced)

160g feta cheese (or non-dairy cheese)

1 red or yellow bell pepper

Ingredients for the Salad Dressing:

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp dried mint

The juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Prepare the salad ingredients as directed and then place them in a large bowl.

Mix all of the salad dressing ingredients together and then toss it through the salad and serve.

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Project FODMAP Elimination Blog 1

Jane Cessford – The Fat Foodie

What the project is:

Last weekend I visited the Allergy and FreeFrom Show in Glasgow and I had the pleasure of meeting Lesley Reid, a registered dietitian who specializes in FODMAPs. Lesley was giving a talk at the show on recent developments in the FODMAP world and I’d arranged to have a chat with her afterwards.

Lesley’s talk was a brilliant whistle-stop tour through the basics of the FODMAP diet and I saw a lot of people taking photos of her slides and writing down notes of what foods were low/high FODMAP. However, another thing I noticed which made my heart sink was that when Lesley asked how many people were on or had tried the FODMAP diet and then asked how many had successfully gone through the reintroduction phase (I’m paraphrasing a little bit here, but it’s hard to remember the exact words), there were significantly fewer hands up for those who had reintroduced.

Now, this mirrors a concern I’ve had for quite some time now, that far too many people are going into the exclusion phase of the low FODMAP diet, feeling the benefits of cutting out high FODMAP foods, but aren’t going through the reintroduction phase to identify their own FODMAP tolerance levels.

As a blogger, I’m in a huge number of groups and channels on social media and I’ve noticed that a huge amount of people won’t try the reintroduction phase because they’re frightened that their IBS symptoms will come back.

I can sympathize with this, I really can, but the problem with staying in the exclusion phase is that it diminishes the number of foods people will eat which, as a result, has a detrimental effect on their gut bacteria and can lead to nutritional deficiencies in the long-term.

When I met Lesley I approached her with an idea I’d had for a while – that she, as a FODMAP trained dietitian, guide me through the elimination and reintroduction phases so that I can identify my new FODMAP tolerance levels while under the assistance of a trained dietitian, all the while documenting my experience of the whole project on my blog. Thankfully, Lesley empathizes with and understands my concerns about the number of people who won’t reintroduce and happily agreed to the project.

Why I’m doing it:

It’s been a couple of years since I put myself through the elimination and reintroduction phases and I’m noticing that foods I’d previously thought safe to eat are now sometimes causing me discomfort. Equally, there are foods I’d previously excluded from my diet in the belief that they were a FODMAP group I couldn’t tolerate, which I’m now able to eat. As a result, I think my gut microbiome has changed over time and I strongly believe that doing the elimination phase again, however difficult it might be, is the best way forward. Trust me, I’m not doing this lightly!

The other reason I’m doing this project is that when I first started the low FODMAP diet I did not consult a dietitian. This was for a number of reasons:

1.) I couldn’t afford to see a private dietitian.

2.) The waiting list to see a dietitian on the NHS is long and it would have taken a long time to get an appointment.

3.) I wanted to start ASAP because I was in so much discomfort.

4.) I’m a qualified researcher, so I knew I could educate myself in how the FODMAP diet in all of its phases worked before I began the diet.

The main reason I want to go through the elimination diet a second time under the tutelage of a FODMAP trained dietitian, such as Lesley, is so that I can live the experience and communicate to others the importance of going through the elimination and reintroduction phases.

Why I chose to do the elimination and reintroduction phases with Lesley:

Lesley Reid, King’s College Professional FODMAP Qualified Dietitian

I asked Lesley Reid if she would be open to doing the project with me because she trained in the Low FODMAP diet at King’s College London, so she’s entirely qualified as a dietitian to take someone through the intricacies of the FODMAP diet.

She’s also very passionate about the importance of the reintroduction phase of the low FODMAP diet and shares my concern about the number of people living in the exclusion phase.

She’s also local (I live in Stirling and she’s got two office locations in Glasgow), so it made sense to use someone close by.

What I aim to achieve:

I want to emphasise to everyone who follows the low FODMAP diet the importance of properly going through the elimination and reintroduction phases, so that a proper understanding of our own FODMAP tolerance levels can be understood with the long-term aim of being able to incorporate higher FODMAP foods within our diets to encourage good bacteria growth in the gut microbiome.

What’s happened so far:

This morning Lesley said that she’d be sending me documents to fill out, so that our project can proceed just like it usually would for any of her professional consultations and we’ll have our first telephone consultation on Friday.

I have to say, she’s so friendly and approachable that I already feel reassured that she’s going to be the dietitian taking me through this process.

The elimination phase is restrictive, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about going back through it, but I know that it’ll benefit me in the long run by informing me of my new tolerance levels and improving my gut health.

I’ll keep you posted!

Lesley’s details are:

Telephone: 07777640035

Email: info@lesleyreiddietitian.co.uk

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