Friday, March 05, 2021

I like a look of Agony

Content warning: food talk, implied digestive distress, diet-adjacent language, mostly just...boring.

My latent digestive issues have flared up over the course of...all this...because of course they have. It's all too tedious to describe, just to say that I had created a false memory of a low-FODMAP eating trial that had been inconclusive. In my mind, this happened years ago:  I tried cutting out FODMAPs and it was terrible, and I got no relief from my unmentionable symptoms. In reality, I apparently only researched such an eating style and found it too horrifying to contemplate. 

So, my symptoms have become not fun lately, and I decided to give it an actual shot.

If you're wondering what scared me off the first time around — me, a person who has been happily vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, for very long stretches of time, as well as easily gluten- and dairy-free for shorter lengths in my attempts to pin down what I've been eating that makes me feel bad.* I've given up coffee! Totally cut out sugar! I've avoided nightshades! Soy! I've done an elimination diet (sorry, was trying to avoid that word, one of my least favorites) — well, I'll tell you. 

The boring/sciency part: FODMAPs are fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, short-chain carbohydrates that include familiar sugars like lactose and fructose. So people who have trouble digesting these guys are basically intolerant, not just of lactose and milk products, but potentially a whole bunch more foods.** Eliminating foods that are high in FODMAPs is a short-term strategy to get symptoms under control, and then you add foods back in one at a time to figure out the things that are trying to kill you. 

So, it's 2-6 weeks of cutting almost all of them out, then a few months adding things back in. The appalling part is that this eating plan is like a devious torture created by an evil sociopathic registered dietician. Blueberries are fine, and so are strawberries and strawberry jam, but no blueberry jam. No peaches, apples, or pears. No garlic or onions (that's the part that made me cry the first time around). You can have leeks and green onions, but only the green part. Almonds, yes! But only 10 per serving. Walnuts, yes; cashews, no. Hard cheese is fine, eggs, meats, firm tofu (but no soft tofu or soy milk). NO BEANS. No beans. Like six broccoli florets at a time, no cauliflower or Brussels sprouts. Kale is okay, and spinach and lettuce. Maple syrup is a go, but no honey. No wheat. Oats are fine. Here's one that kills me: ripe bananas are high-FODMAP, but you can have a GREEN BANANA. 1/8 of an avocado.

You can see why I ran screaming from this before and pretended I'd given it a try.

So if I make my own everything (vegetable broth, chicken broth, granola, garlic-infused olive oil — it's okay to infuse a fat with garlic, as long as you throw the garlic away, but you can't cook garlic in water, like in a stock). I can more or less eat a more or less normal diet.

The timing couldn't be better, though! I have time to make my own stock and granola, we're only cooking for two around here. With my special bread and lactose-free milk products, I hardly even notice the difference (cue only very slightly hysterical laughter).

*all of this under the guidance of a gastroenterologist, and after ruling out terrible things and being tested for celiac disease, etc.

**a t-shirt that reads ASK ME ABOUT FODMAPS

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