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FBF Blog (49)

Tuesday, 03 December 2019 12:13

This One Is For All Of The Ladies

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Every month at around the same do you find that your gut is super sensitive?  

As if your gut is flagging you down; putting up the red flag; and shouting:  "hello I am very unhappy!" 

You start to experience unexplained constipation, diarrhea, bloating or all of the above.  And, you wonder what the heck did I eat?  

You start back tracking 3 days; investigating your diet; initiating a formal inquiry into everything you ate; searching out the culprit.

This has been happening to me for the last 18 months.  Once a month I go into a tailspin.  I completely panic and think I am going to go back to how I felt 10 years ago; 10 years ago when I felt completely rundown and basically awful.  

Why?  Why does this happen?  I eat a clean diet, a diverse diet, a diet that should not cause any of the above mentioned symptoms.  

Well, 4 months ago I finally determined who was the culprit.  I now know where to point my finger, what to blame.  It was like Adele was sining to me: "HELLO, it's me....HELLO, can you hear me?"  

Ahhh, yes I can.  I know who you are.  

Have you guessed it?

It's my period, my menstruation cycle, my monthly visitor.  Oh why, oh why is my period now causing me gut unrest?  Oh period I deal with the zits, the swollen chest, the little edge to my personality.  I know you are coming.  Trust me, I do not need any other warnings.  My cravings for sugar that I arduously avoid are already so hard to manage.  Why do you test me to my breaking point?  I have worked so hard not to have gut unrest.

What is changing in me as I age?  Yes, I am aging.  I have transitioned out of a making baby body into a pre-menopause body.  Am I really that old?

This change makes me think of Diane Keaton and Steve Martin in Father of the Bride Part II.  In all honestly I had to just look up the title to one of my favorite movies.  And, no I am not ready to think about that memory lapse; let alone blog about my occasional need to use google when my own brain can not dig up the file I need.  Anyway, do you remember the seen when Diane Keaton is reading the book, "The Change", in bed; and Steve Martin is having one of his infamous panic attacks?  This is how I feel!  Thank you Diane and Steve for adding some comedy to my monthly cycle.

 

So, what is causing this monthly gut unrest?

My good friend and dietitian explained it to me.  As I type this I am wondering why I didn't turn to her 18 months ago; why did I wait so long?  Am I honestly still nervous to talk about poop and gas?  Seriously, I shouldn't be-I have put it all out there on this website for you to read.  There are not any secrets left for me. :)

 

Here is the basic answer:  Hormones.

Your hormonal cycle can cause both constipation and diarrhea.

During the second half of your period your body is producing more progesterone.  Progesterone is responsible for the thickening of your uterus.  The progesterone is working to slow down your uterus and it can do the same to your colon-slow it down-cause constipation.

Well, what about the diarrhea?

As your actual menstruation begins to start another culprit, prostaglandins, increase in your system.  Prostaglandins tell the uterus to relax and allow the shedding of the uterus (the blood) to occur.  Again, your colon thinks it should be doing the same thing, shedding.  Your colon relaxes and wants to empty at a very fast rate.

Well, that makes senses.  Hormones.  Another reason to blame our hormones.

 

Why?  Why now is my body more sensitive?  

My body is more sensitive to these hormone changes because my body and hormones are changing.  My body is transitioning out of it's ability to make a baby.  This is part of its natural cycle.

 

What can I do about it?

Give my gut grace.  Stop playing the blame game.  Stop evaluating my diverse, clean diet that the other 26 days of the month makes me feel amazing.

I need to acknowledge that these symptoms are going to happen regardless and definitely not dependent upon what I eat.  

I need to stop eliminating food that gave me gut unrest right before I get my period.  It is not a forbidden food.  It is a hormonal response.  Again, it is not the food choice!

I need to remind myself I am healthy.  Throwing myself into panic attack is only going to increase the stress hormones in my body and cause more negative responses in my gut.  

I need to chill out!  This is normal.  My body is normal.

 

What do you buy for the teenager living with Fructose Malabsorption?

A typical teen's gift list most likely includes a new phone, a new computer, fancy headphones and a gaming system.  Basically all 21st century teenagers want tech presents with a hot logo and a recognizable brand name; and have no concept that a $500 phone is a big ask!

When I was a teenager in the 90's I am sure my parents felt the same way and lamented my annual holiday list.  I can remember being desperate for a Coach purse, Doc Martin boots and a Champion sweatshirt.  By the way, did you know Champion sweatshirts are cool again; especially vintage sweatshirts?  Both of my teenagers desire hooded Champion sweatshirts with the small "c" on the cuff.  Too bad I am the opposite of a hoarder and didn't save all of mine.

Clearly teenagers have their hearts set on gadgets and brand name items.  I have a few ideas for you that are popular at our house.  

I am sure you are asking yourself what do tech gadgets and trademarked presents have to do with Fructose Malabsorption?  I am actually asking myself how I made this connection.  Sometimes I wake up dreaming about Fructose Malabsorption; and fantasize how I can make life better for my daughter.  These early morning musings sometimes turn into my best FBF blog ideas.  What works for my daughter living with Fructose Malabsorption most likely might help you make your teenagers holiday a bit more magical. When I go to bed at night I think about what do I want most for my daughter as she navigates Fructose Malabsorption.  How can I nurture her?  I want my daughter to:

to love her life

own her food intolerance

feel that she is in control of what she eats and doesn't eat

and most importantly that life is still fun when you have Fructose Malabsorption.

 

So, how do I make this happen?  How do I make my 13 year old holiday wishes come true without taking out a loan?  I buy tech items, gadgets, things that need to be plugged in, and soft goods and hard goods with brand name appeal.  I seek out items that help her own her Fructose Malabsorption; give her a sense of control and maturity that she is so desiring; and hopefully (fingers crossed) find something that is worth a social media post.  Score one for me, the coolest mom of a teenager!  Most likely not cool, but at least appreciated.  :)

 

Holiday Gift Guide For Teenagers Living With Fructose Malabsorption:

(disclaimer:  I do not have any affiliate program)

1.  Soda Stream Machine:

When you have Fructose Malabsorption you are limited to 15 grams of fructose a day.  At our house our goal is to consume 95% of daily allowed fructose in safe fruits and vegetables.  This doesn't leave room on our fructose scale for popular sugary drinks like soda, juice, and energy beverages.  This is tough when you are teen!  You want to sit around with your girlfriends, watch a movie and enjoy a fun drink.  You can't do this with Fructose Malabsorption.  Most commercially produced beverages marketed to teens are a Fructose Volcano waiting to happen.  I watched my daughter go through this last year.  We had a post hockey game gathering at one of her teammate's houses.  All of the other girls were drinking soda and other fructose landmines disguised as healthy options, and my daughter was stuck with water.  Yes, water is good for her and she needs to drink a lot of it (see item #2).  However, she also craves bright and shiny packages, flavored drinks and beverages that bubble when you open them.  She wants to blend in with her teammates, feel like she is part of the group and not an outsider.

Last year my son purchased a Soda Stream Machine for my daughter for her birthday.  I had no idea how this would transform her life.  

It is bright turquoise; contains a carbon dioxide canister; makes bubbly, fizzy water in seconds; and you can get creative and customize your own flavors.  Our Soda Stream Machine is so cool it has actually been featured in many social media posts.  Most evenings my daughter makes her own flavored bubble water with our Soda Stream Machine.  Currently, her favorite is cranberry.  She has also experimented with lemon, lime and orange bubble water.   It only takes a splash of fresh juice.  It is 100% natural.  Yes, actually it comes from nature not from "natural flavors".  It is incredibly low in fructose and that is a win at our house!

 

2.  Hydroflask:

Have you heard of VSCO?  No, not a typo.  Not disco, but VSCO.  VSCO is one of the hottest social media trends for young teens.  Originally a photo-editing app, VSCO has become the "hippie" or "grunge" style of the 21st century Gen Z millennials.  The VSCO girl aesthetic is driven by specific brand names:  Lululemon, Birkenstocks, Fjallraven backpacks, Apple AirPods, and Hydroflasks.  VSCO girl social media posts are all about product placement!  Picture a group of teenage girls taking selfies with scrunchies and friendship bracelets lining their wrists; Lululemon black leggings; oversize college sweatshirts (why didn't I save my old Champion sweatshirts?); bright white ankle socks pulled up over the leggings; original brown Birkenstocks; a tiny Fjallraven backpack causally draped over one shoulder; and a Hydroflask in one hand and an iced coffee in the other hand.  That is VSCO!  I am all in for my daughter expressing herself and embracing trends.  When I was her age I was obsessed with Guess Jeans, Benetton rugby shirts, and Jansport backpacks.  I just didn't have the ability to get together with my girlfriends for a spontaneous photo shoot.  Thank goodness some of my looks are only memories and not memorialized forever in the cloud.  

What strikes me the most about the latest millennial trend is Birkenstocks.  Truly, Birkenstock has an amazing marketing team.  Somehow Birkenstocks were cool in the 70's when my parents participated in peace rallys wearing bell bottom jeans and both of them had hair longer than mine.  Where is the photo cloud for these moments?  Flash forward to the 90's when I was in high school and it was all about Seattle grunge rock.  Most days I would wear my dad's x-large flannels to school with baggie jeans and Birkenstocks.  No, I didn't have AirPods; but, I had a bright yellow "Walkman" with mixed tapes featuring my favorite songs from Reality Bites.  Birkentstock, where will you take us next when my young nieces are in their teens?

Back to the Hydroflask.  The Hydroflask is a water bottle that keeps drinks cold for 24 hours.  Last December when my daughter asked for a Hydroflask I was all in.  Yes, it costs a considerable amount more than most water bottles.  But, if it gets her to drink water it is priceless. When you have Fructose Malabsorption digesting access fructose can cause an osmotic load in your body.  In layman’s terms this basically means that your body is working really hard to get rid of excess fructose and pulls a lot of water out of other cells in your body to eliminate the fructose.  When you have Fructose Malabsorption it is essential to drink a lot of water.  I try to drink 72 ounces of water each day and want my daughter to, too.

At our house we are embracing VSCO:  the brandnames, the creative expression, the photo shoots and the Hydroflask.

 

3.  A Blender:

Yes, I am recommending a blender.  No, this isn't a wedding registry item-it is for your teenager.  A blender is a gadget.  It can be techie, quite expensive, have all sorts of buttons and customizable options, and is a great gift for a teen with Fructose Malabsorption.

For the last few years I have intuitively known that protein is my gut's friend.  Protein makes my unique gut happy and run like a train that is on schedule.  How do I know this?

Since my diagnosis 10+ years ago I have been conducting a scientific experiment of my own gut.  I have been trying to determine what makes my unique gut happy and what makes it angry.  And, looking for answers/conclusions/rock solid evidence on what I can and can not eat.  I want a set of rules for my gut.  I don't want guess work.  Yes, accidental overdoses and fructose volcanoes have happened in the past 10 years.  But, for the most part my scientific experiment has helped me find a diet that works for me.  All of my logging in daily food journals, reading label after label, and experimenting with different combinations of fresh whole food has worked.  For the most part I know what I can and can not eat and how much of a "safe" food is actually safe.

I am a quantitative person.  I want results that can be measured and numbers that I can live by.  And, I want researchers/scientists/gastroenterologists to help me find this quantitative data. For example, I do best when I eat less that 15 grams of fructose per day, eat more glucose than fructose, and eat protein with every meal.

My scientific study has helped me determine that protein is my friend.  If I want to eat vegetables or fruit that are higher in fructose eating a protein source with it helps.  Why is this?  What's the deal with protein?  Is there a link with protein consumption and fructose malabsorption?

I never knew scientifically why this worked, but I intuitively knew why.  Protein makes my gut happy. 

Recently, one of my new Fructose Malabsorption friends shared an article from the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition that proves my theory.  Amino acids, found in proteins, have been scientifically proven to aid in fructose absorption.

It is amazing how intuitive your gut can be.  It sometimes knows whats best for you more than your brain.  My brain wants cookies, but my gut wants protein.  Listen to your second brain:  your gut.  :)

I was thrilled to read this study.  Some unknown chemist spent countless hours in a lab and quantitatively determined for me what I already knew:  protein (or more specifically amino acids found in protein) help digest/absorb fructose.  Wow!  My theory has been validated!

I eat protein with every meal, but my daughter who also has Fructose Malabsorption doesn't enjoy protein as much as I do.  She also has a hard time eating a large enough protein proportion because her tummy gets full.  And, sometimes I am not craving fish, steak or chicken.  And, when you live with Fructose Malabsorption you need protein each day.

We recently found a solution: organic, 3rd party tested protein powder.  

For the last six months I have been drinking a glass of water each evening with a scoop of protein powder.

How do I feel?

Amazing!

What is different?

My gut's train schedule is never delayed and it definitely isn't speeding up if you know what I mean.  My bowel output is the best it has been in years.

Any other changes?

Yes, the rest of me feels better!  I am not experiencing mid-afternoon nap desires.  I can actually function at 3:30 each afternoon.  

And, my hair and skin look and feel fantastic!  I even notice new eyebrows growing in.  Please don't ask me about my over plucking eyebrow situation from my late 20's.

I am definitely not claiming that protein powder is a miracle supplement for everyone.  However, for me it is!  My unique gut was clearly missing some important amino acids.

4 months I ago I asked my daughter to try protein powder.  

Here is where the blender comes in.  I knew she wouldn't want to just drink straight up protein powder.  If she was going to embrace this experiment it needed to be an experience.  Over the course of the last 120 days we have had a lot of fun perfecting a protein powder smoothie.  Her favorite recipe calls for 9 ice cubes (her favorite number is 9), 1 cup of organic milk, 1 scoop of protein powder, and a little cocoa powder.

My daughter is also finding positive results.  She is actually choosing to make herself a protein powder smoothie before her hockey games.  

I love that the protein powder has taken away the protein push in my house.  It's ok if she doesn't want cooked chicken at lunch and is full after a grilled cheese and cucumbers.  She is getting those needed amino acids in a different form.

 

 

For the last few years I have really wanted to start taking vitamin and mineral supplements.  Why haven't I started?  What is holding me back?

Anxiety is preventing me from taking this step.  I have extreme apprehension about adding anything to my gut and honestly an outright fear of a negative gut response.  

Will the supplements change my gut flora that I have worked so hard to rebuild?  Can supplements cause Fructose Volcanoes?  I definitely do not want to take anything that will challenge my unique gut and set it off in a downward spiral.  I have worked so hard to find gut balance, and am so proud of my happy, healthy insides.

Two years ago I experimented with supplements and started using Vitamin D drops in the winter knowing that most Minnesotans lack Vitamin D.  Why? Because we live in a tundra and the only sun we see for 6 months is when we run like a penguin between our car and the grocery store and work.  A few weeks into the supplements I stopped taking them because I didn't feel any different and my gut unrest anxiety was at an all time high.  

My Fructose Malabsorption is definitely under control compared to 10 years ago.  The original symptoms that caused me to find a diagnosis have mostly disappeared.

Since changing my diet:

my gut is no longer irritable everyday;

my joints do not ache (unless I play too much basketball with my teenage son);

I do not feel like my brain is living in Seattle like fog;

and I don't constantly look pregnant due to excessive bloating.

But, I hold on to this foreboding fear that my FM is going to smack me in my face and rear up again.  Yes, I feel healthy, but I fret and get flustered evaluating how I feel each and every day.

I intuitively know I need to take supplements because I still struggle with fatigue. Yes, I can get though the day for the most part without yawning, but at night I am just plain tired, even exhausted some evenings.  

My family jokes that I have narcolepsy. Truly, I actually feel that way. I can fall asleep anywhere without warning if it is after 8:00 pm. Just last Saturday I feel asleep in an Uber talking to a good friend. One moment I am laughing and the next moment out cold. My friend is totally used to this. I have fallen asleep on her couch, my couch, and on countless couches on family vacations.

Why am I still so tired?  What am I missing?  How can I find out for me quantitatively what my body is missing?  How can I take the guesswork out of this mystery?  If I scientifically, on a cellular level knew what I was missing I think I would be less scared to take the supplements.

I have actually never walked into a vitamin shop and avoid the supplement isle at the grocery store.  It's like a sneaky dragon is living in the isle luring me, nudging me to sample, badgering me to face my fear.  Clearly, I have a few issues.

Recently, I reached out to my dietitian because I was ready to face my supplement fear head on.  It's time for action.  

My dietitian came to my rescue, like a "knightess" in shining armor wielding the information I needed.  

There is actually a quantitative, scientific test that uses my own blood and white blood cells to check for missing micronutrients.  In my world this means I have unlocked the secret door to less anxiety and a better understanding of me and my unique gut.  My dietitian calmed my fears, is on my team and had a solution.  I can with scientific help determine what my unique gut needs.  I can remove the guesswork, the fear of the unknown and fuel my body.  Hallelujah!

Last week I received my results.

I am deficient in B12 and Chromium.

I am borderline deficient in Zinc, Selenium, D3, Folate and something called Pantothenic.  

To be honest, I am not sure what it all means.  

Are there any connections to Fructose Malabsorption and these deficiencies?

What's the chicken and what's the egg?  Am I deficient in B12 because my body was made that way and that deficiency messes with sugar digestion process?  Or, did my days of gut unrest change my ability to absorb and use B12.

I do not have the answers.  HOWEVER, I have someone on my team who is going to help me figure this out.  3 CHEERS to my dietitian!!!  She truly is a "knightess" riding in on her horse here to help me and my unique gut.

Yes, I have a lot more questions than answers.  But, I am not scored, nor anxious, nor nervous.  I have more knowledge now about me.  This is just another layer in the Fructose Malabsorption journey.

As my dietitian and I unravel all of these connections I will keep you posted.  

Stay tuned.  There is a lot more to share about my Fructose Malabsorption story.

 

18 months ago we launched Families Balancing Fructose.

18 months ago we created the following Welcome page on our website:

 

"We are a family living with fructose malabsorption, but that doesn’t stop us from loving life, eating out, traveling, socializing and thriving. We live each day with balance and an intentional pursuit of joy and happiness.  We choose to eat products that are made from whole real food ingredients and demand transparency on food labels.  

We hope this website brings you guidance, support and inspiration to live a balanced life.  A life spent with friends and family gathered around your table laughing, sharing and eating real food.

On the Families Balancing Fructose website you will find information about Fructose Malabsorption; recipes that are fructose balanced and not made with man-made sweeteners; recipes that are healthy, easy to make and kid approved; a spotlight on safe products and restaurants that are committed to using real food; and blog posts about my family’s journey of living with Fructose Malabsorption and how we can all benefit from eating real food.

Subscribe to my blog to learn more about Fructose Malabsorption resources, new recipes, featured products, articles about FODMAPS, blog posts about our food industry, and tips on how to support loved ones living with Fructose Malabsorption."

 

Let's check-in with each other.  Pretend we are sitting outside at our favorite coffee house, enjoying the last few rays of warm sunshine before winter arrives with a bang, and we are casually chatting about Families Balancing Fructose.

What we have learned?  

What has been the biggest surprise?  

What does my diet look like now 18 months later?

And, would we change our welcome statement given our new knowledge and experience?

Lessons Learned:

1.  I am truly shocked with how much we have learned in the last 18 months.  2 years ago I thought I knew everything about Fructose Malabsorption.  Wow, I was so wrong!!!  My Fructose Malabsorption Facebook community has taught me so many lessons, encouraged me to dive into new research, and experiment with new diet changes.

 

2.  When I was diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption 10+ years ago a low FODMAP diet didn’t have the notoriety of today.  Low FODMAP recipe books did not exist. Apps dedicated to tracking a low FODMAP diet were not readily available. A low FODMAP diet was not the standard protocol, and patients didn’t have access to the technology we do today with misleading information.  I can honestly tell you that when I started this website I honestly had no idea that so MANY Fructose Malabsorption patients used a low FODMAP diet.  FODMAP was not an acronym I used and I didn't even know it existed.  

When I started my website adventure, I didn’t realize how different my journey to gut health would be compared to people who are diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption today.  When I was diagnosed only two books were available at my local bookstore about Fructose Malabsorption and neither mentioned the low FODMAP diet. When I originally googled Fructose Malabsorption, hardly any websites were dedicated to Fructose Malabsorption and suggested diets.  The only websites I could find were rare medical journals. I didn’t even own a phone and had no idea what an app was.

Honestly, I feel lucky.  My only sources of information were my dietitian and my doctor.  I knew my body couldn’t process high amounts of fructose and I knew how to simply eliminate that from my diet.  I didn’t have incessant food product marketing, fad diets and debunked health claims clouding my understanding of how to treat myself.

So here I am trying to help people with Fructose Malabsorption, trying to connect with others who have children like I do who live with Fructose Malabsorption.  And, I am faced with this new reality: access to information on our phones and computers trumps visiting a medical professional.

Given this new reality, I want to understand what it is like to get diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption today.  What are the hot topics? Where do people look for help? What diet is most suggested?

A low FODMAP diet appears to be the most suggested diet when diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption.  There are 100+ books on store shelves about FODMAP diets. Google FODMAP and you could spend a lifetime looking at all of the websites.  And, let’s be honest-we all look to the internet for health advice.

So, what did I learn about FODMAPS?  And, do I think this approach is helpful. Link here to find out my biggest Fructose Malabsorption lesson.

6 months into our website journey I had spent so much time learning about FODMAPS that I posted a second blog article: Is It Safe To Assume That All Low FODMAP Foods Are Safe for FM?

 

3.  It's ok to sometimes be a little gassy!  

Why do we panic when we feel a little gassy?

Why does a little bowel wind send us into a tailspin where we start evaluating everything we have consumed in the last 3 days making us feel like we have done something wrong, indulged in the forbidden fructose fruit?

Why?  Because we know what it is like to live in a state of constant bowel unrest.  

In the last 18 months I have learned a lot about gas, what gas can teach us, what causes gas, that all gas is not bad gas, and a few funny terms to use beside the word gas.

 

4. Who Knew?  Balsamic vinegar has 7.4 grams of fructose.  That is a lot of sugar.

I have always wondered why balsamic vinegar gives me a tummy ache?  And, why has it taken me 10 years to find the answer?

Balsamic Vinaigrette used to be my go to order out at a restaurant and consequently my go to way of leaving the restaurant feeling yucky.  My thought was vinaigrettes are healthier than dressings like ranch or caesar, dressings with more fat and; therefore, a better option.  Why then was I feeling bloated and why was my gut yelling at me when I was choosing balsamic vinaigrette?  

I had no idea what was in balsamic vinegar and to be honest didn't realize I needed to know.  It hadn't occurred to me that my healthy choice was not healthy for me.  I didn't know that balsamic vinegar could contain anything other than vinegar.  And, I assumed it was a healthy choice because it was low in fat and I was putting it on a salad.  I realized I was still stuck in the 1990's way of thinking about food.  

It has been really hard for me to rid myself of the food rules I learned in college.  Food rules like fat is bad, carbs are good; and all salads are healthy.  I assumed any salad I ordered with balsamic vinaigrette was healthy because it was low in fat and was called a salad.  I had no idea how much sugar and man-made sweeteners were added to those supposedly healthy salads.

Where else is sugar hiding in my supposedly healthy diet?  And, what can I substitute for balsamic vinegar in recipes? Link here to learn more about balsamic vinegar and how to make a low sugar caprese salad.

 

My Biggest Surprise Lesson, And The Scariest Lesson We Learned:

Last spring we learned the biggest lesson in our family:

How A Food Intolerance Can Lead To Undiagnosed Appendicitis and Emergency Surgery

 

New Diet Changes In The Last 18 Months:

1.  For the last few years I have intuitively known that protein is my gut's friend.  Protein makes my unique gut happy and run like a train that is on schedule.

How do I know this?

Since my diagnosis 10+ years ago I have been conducting a scientific experiment of my own gut.  I have been trying to determine what makes my unique gut happy and what makes it angry.  And, looking for answers/conclusions/rock solid evidence on what I can and can not eat.  I want a set of rules for my gut.  I don't want guess work.  Yes, accidental overdoses and fructose volcanoes have happened in the past 10 years.  But, for the most part my scientific experiment has helped me find a diet that works for me.  All of my logging in daily food journals, reading label after label, and experimenting with different combinations of fresh whole food has worked.  For the most part I know what I can and can not eat and how much of a "safe" food is actually safe.

Read my blog article to learn more about missing amino acids in our diet and why protein powder can be a game changer.

5 months into my protein powder experiment and I am feeling better than ever.  Not to get too personal, but you kind of have to when you have Fructose Malabsorption....I'll just say that my bowel habits are textbook normal.  This is a sentence I never thought I would type in my life or a sentence that would accurately describe me.  Yes, my bowel habits are textbook normal.

2.. Not all gluten and flour are created equally!

Since writing my blog article about gluten and wheat I have adopted a new food rule:  I only eat organic flour.  Yes, this is a really hard rule to follow.  It basically means that the only gluten I eat comes from my favorite local bakery that uses only organic flour.  The only other gluten I eat is homemade bread or other organic wheat products made from scratch by me.  Yes, I am only eating gluten products from our local bakery and my kitchen.

This new food rule has helped my gut a lot!!!  It has helped me to make better choices when we go out to eat.  I used to go to a "nicer" restaurant and just assume that the chef's used good flour.  Why?  Because I like to pretend sometimes that I don't have a food intolerance and I can eat like everyone else.  This misconception led to a lot of fructose volcanoes.  

I adopted my new philosophy July 1st and am loving it.  I have never had a gluten issue.  I think I had an issue with all of the other things that were added to that supposedly safe gluten.  Why would I want ever want to eat chemicals like glyphosate, ATI's or transglutaminase (common chemicals/preservatives/additives added to commercial gluten products)?  If I limit my gluten intake to an organic fresh baguette or ciabatta from my home I am eliminating a lot of crap!  That is a good food rule to live by!!!

 

18 Months In And How Would I Change My Welcome?:

1.  I added a statement to all recipes and my welcome page:

Everyone with Fructose Malabsorption tolerates different levels of fructose and has their own unique gut and gut voice. It is best to make a list of what feels good and what doesn’t, listen to your gut voice, and remember it is all about the daily balance. 

We, Fructose Malabsorption patients, need to understand that we all have a unique gut, like a second set of fingerprints.  A recipe that works for me may not work for you.  And, your favorite recipe might cause my gut to scream back at me.  But, let's still share recipes.  We can learn from each other; we can listen to our gut and modify the recipe to work for us; and the more we learn about our guts the better we all feel.

 

2.  I would change my hardline stance on man-made sweeteners.  In the last 18 months I have learned that my daughter, who also has Fructose Malabsorption and is a teenager, wants bright and shiny packages.  She craves packaged food.  She craves normalcy.  My job is to NOT make her feel bad about this, but to help her find safe choices.  I am now purchasing granola bars made with brown rice syrup.  Yes, my daughter is eating a man-made sweetener and she feels great-both inside and out. Read more about the biggest lesson my daughter taught me.

Brown Rice Syrup, Is It Good Or Bad?  Should We, Fructose Malabsorption Patients, Ingest Brown Rice Syrup?  How About A Granola Bar Made With Brown Rice Syrup?

Since my diagnosis with Fructose Malabsorption and my daughter's subsequent diagnosis with Fructose Malabsorption we have strictly avoided all man-made sugars other than pure can sugar and glucose syrup.  

Man-made sugar scares me!  The sugar industry is highly unregulated; food companies can change sugars in products and not label it correctly; and food scientists are constantly inventing new sugars.  

I know what it is like to live in a constant state of gut unrest, overall inflammation, and daily Fructose Volcano episodes.  I do not want to eat something that is supposedly a "safe sugar" and have it cause another eruption!

 

For 10+ years our #1 rule is:  mostly all man-made sugars are BAD and should undoubtedly be avoided!!!

 

Recently one of my Facebook Fructose Malabsorption Friends posed the simple question:  "Has anyone found a safe granola bar?".  Before I even read the responses I wanted to respond, "No, there are NOT any safe granola bars on the market".  "Trust me, I have honestly spent 300 hours scouring granola bar labels at the grocery store and online and have NOT found any safe options."  

 

A few years ago I gave up my quest for commercially made granola bars and started experimenting with making my own.  Wow, granola bars are tough to make!  It takes a lot of experimenting to find the perfect recipe that gives a granola bar a nice crunch, but not too crunchy so that it breaks your teeth.  And, a granola bar where the ingredients stick together, but are not so sticky that they are impossible to chew and swallow.  We have made a lot of disgusting granola bars!  I would say that a few of them have not been edible.

We have sampled at least two dozen recipes over the last few years trying to perfect the perfect granola bar recipe.  It finally occurred to me after a lot of missteps that I needed to create a simple syrup with sugar and water to replicate the quality of honey, molasses or a high fructose syrup; an ingredient that would help the granola bar ingredients stick together, and stay crunchy at the same time.

Here is a link to our best recipe and a recipe my daughter enjoys:  

Chocolate Peanut Butter Gooey Goodness Granola Bars

Currently, these are the ONLY granola bars we eat at our house.  Why?

When I make granola bars at home I can control the ingredients.  

I know they are made with safe cane organic sugar.  

When my daughter eats them in moderation combined with other whole real foods her gut and body are happy.  That is my goal:  I want my daughter to feel happy, healthy; and ready to tackle school, sports and social media.  I do not want Grace to feel run down nor anxious.

So why did I just purchase two new brands of granola bars?  Why am I willing to experiment with her gut?

Because two of my Facebook friends suggested granola bars made with brown rice syrup.

Wait, didn't I just state that our rule was, "mostly all man-made sugars are BAD and should undoubtedly be avoided"!  Yes, I did.

So, what is brown rice syrup?  

Is it a safe option?  

Brown Rice Syrup comes from fermented brown rice and is mostly glucose.  And, we know that glucose is like a spaceship helping to transport fructose into our cells; therefore, preventing the dreaded Fructose Volcano.

Is there finally a product out there that I could purchase and not have to make?

And, wouldn't that be fantastic?  

My daughter is desperate to have a packaged item in her lunch!  She wants to feel "normal".  She desires bright, shiny packages.  I am willing to give it a try based on my research.  Part of her happiness as a preteen is feeling "normal".

Yes, brown rice syrup is commercially made.  And, yes food from the earth is best!  However, when you are 12 years old and live in an environment where bright shiny packages of food are available and served everywhere---at school, gas stations, after hockey practices, at friend's houses and at the local coffee shop----it feels good to have an occasional packaged product.  

I stress the word occasional.  I am not going to pack these new granola bars in her lunch everyday.  And, I am not going to go hog wild and give her the entire granola bar the first time we try them.  We are going to take it slow.  We will try a few bites of one type of granola bar, evaluate our symptoms for the next 3 days, avoid all other "scary" foods, write down all evidence of symptoms, and then try a few more bites.  If we find success, meaning my daughter still feels happy and healthy then we will try 1/2 of a granola bar and start the process all over again.  

It is really important when trying a new food to keep a food journal.  At Families Balancing Fructose we created a food journal and a recording system that works well at our house.  Here is a link to our food journal: FBF Food Journal.

I will let you know if these granola bars work for my daughter.  I will let you know if she prefers bright and shiny, or homemade.  

 

Granola Bars We Purchased:

MacroBars

Happy Bars

 

 

For the last few years I have intuitively known that protein is my gut's friend.  Protein makes my unique gut happy and run like a train that is on schedule.  How do I know this?

Since my diagnosis 10+ years ago I have been conducting a scientific experiment of my own gut.  I have been trying to determine what makes my unique gut happy and what makes it angry.  And, looking for answers/conclusions/rock solid evidence on what I can and can not eat.  I want a set of rules for my gut.  I don't want guess work.  Yes, accidental overdoses and fructose volcanoes have happened in the past 10 years.  But, for the most part my scientific experiment has helped me find a diet that works for me.  All of my logging in daily food journals, reading label after label, and experimenting with different combinations of fresh whole food has worked.  For the most part I know what I can and can not eat and how much of a "safe" food is actually safe.

I am a quantitative person.  I want results that can be measured and numbers that I can live by.  And, I want researchers/scientists/gastroenterologists to help me find this quantitative data. For example, I do best when I eat less that 15 grams of fructose per day, eat more glucose than fructose, and eat protein with every meal.

My scientific study has helped me determine that protein is my friend.  If I want to eat vegetables or fruit that are higher in fructose eating a protein source with it helps.  Why is this?  What's the deal with protein?  Is there a link with protein consumption and fructose malabsorption?

I never knew scientifically why this worked, but I intuitively knew why.  Protein makes my gut happy. 

Recently, one of my new Fructose Malabsorption friends shared an article from the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition that proves my theory.  Amino acids, found in proteins, have been scientifically proven to aid in fructose absorption.

It is amazing how intuitive your gut can be.  It sometimes knows whats best for you more than your brain.  My brain wants cookies, but my gut wants protein.  Listen to your second brain:  your gut.  :)

I was thrilled to read this study.  Some unknown chemist spent countless hours in a lab and quantitatively determined for me what I already knew:  protein (or more specifically amino acids found in protein) help digest/absorb fructose.  Wow!  My theory has been validated!

I eat protein with every meal, but my daughter who also has Fructose Malabsorption doesn't enjoy protein as much as I do.  She also has a hard time eating a large enough protein proportion because her tummy gets full.  And, sometimes I am not craving fish, steak or chicken.  And, when you live with Fructose Malabsorption should you have more amino acids/protein than someone who doesn't have Fructose Malabsorption?

Would a protein powder be a good idea?  How would it feel in my gut?  Would I have a negative reaction?  

I have wanted to try a protein powder for the last year, but have been really nervous.  There are so many options available.  And, how do I know what is safe and not safe?  Which ones contain artificial ingredients, sweeteners and/or chemicals?  I do not want any of that in my protein powder.

Last week someone posed the following question on one of my Facebook Fructose Malabsorption groups:  "What protein powder do you all eat?".  I was so excited to see this post.  I knew my Facebook community would have the answer for me.  I should have turned to them earlier.

After reviewing all of the Facebook opinions I embarked on a little research of my own.  I found a 3rd party, the Clean Label Project.  The Clean Label Project is a, "nonprofit focused on health and transparency in consumer product labeling."  "In 2018 the Clean Label Project completed a study of 134 protein powder products from 52 brands. Products were screened for over 130 toxins including heavy metals, BPA, pesticides, and other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions."  Their conclusions included many safe powders and many unsafe powders.  

I chose Amy Meyers MD protein powder because both my daughter and I can digest grass fed beef and other protein sources don't work well for us.  Pea protein can have natural fructose in it and rice protein tends to ferment in your gut.  And, neither of us definitely do not need extra fermentation.  Have you ever heard of a Fructose Volcano?

For the last 90 days I have been drinking a glass of water each evening with a scoop of protein powder.

How do I feel?

Amazing!

What is different?

My gut's train schedule is never delayed and it definitely isn't speeding up if you know what I mean.  My bowel output is the best it  has been in years.

Any other changes?

Yes, the rest of me feels better!  I am not experiencing mid-afternoon nap desires.  I can actually function at 3:30 each afternoon.  

And, my hair and skin look and feel fantastic!  I even notice new eyebrows growing in.  Please don't ask me about my over plucking eyebrow situation from my late 20's.

I am definitely not claiming that protein powder is a miracle supplement for everyone.  However, for me it is!  My unique gut was clearly missing some important amino acids.

45 days I ago I asked my daughter to try a 60 day trial of protein powder.  She, too, is finding positive results.  I won't get into details because I don't want to embarrass her.  My daughter, too, feels great inside and out!

I love that the protein powder has taken away the protein push in my house.  It's ok if she doesn't want cooked chicken at lunch and is full after a grilled cheese and cucumbers.  She is getting those needed amino acids in a different form.

Share With Me, let me know what your thoughts on protein powder.

 

 

Sources:

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Article About The Facilitating Effects of Amino Acids

Recently one of my "Facebook Fructose Malabsorption Friends" posed a simple question:

"Is it safe to assume that all low FODMAP foods are safe for FM?"

 

Let me back up for a second.  This question in fact is not a simple question; it is a loaded question. 

If you search Fructose Malabsorption on Google 75% of the entries will include the acronym FODMAP.  And if you visit a bookstore or search for Fructose Malabsorption books on the internet you will find 100+ FODMAP "diet" cookbooks.  You could spend a lifetime looking at all of the suggested websites and recipes.

So, what is a FODMAP?  

Is it a diet?

Is it a type of food?  

FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols- that is a mouthful!   Basically, FODMAPS are foods that aren’t well absorbed in the small intestine, pass into the colon and undergo fermentation by bacteria.

Let's stop and understand this is a natural process. This is something that happens in our gut each and every day and is essential to a happy, healthy gut.  Fermentation by bacteria should happen in your colon and is good for you.

Everyone should eat FODMAP foods (maybe not all FODMAP foods....I will get to this later).  

FODMAP foods are high in fiber, contain vital nutrients and feed the natural bacteria living in our guts. We know now that bacteria lives in our gut for a reason and is important to having a healthy gut.  We need bacteria in our gut to function.  

Have you heard all of the hype about "your gut biome" (your gut bacteria)?  When you visit the refrigerated dairy section at your local supermarket do you see numerous yogurts, kefirs and cottage cheese products advertising added "BENEFICIAL BACTERIA"?  Or, when you visit the vitamin isle do you see plenty of probiotics packaged in pills?  How about the rise in advertised fermented foods like sauerkraut?  Let me say it again; we need bacteria in our gut to function.  In the last few years doctors have discovered, accepted and promoted a healthy gut biome and healthy bacteria.  And, consequently so have Madison Avenue marketing companies.

Back to FODMAP.  Why is FODMAP associated with Fructose Malabsorption?  Who invented FODMAP?

A team at Monash University in Australia led by Dr Peter Gibson and Dr Sue Shepherd developed the low FODMAP diet.  Dr Gibson, Dr Shepherd and their partners knew that FODMAP foods caused fermentation in the gut. Their theory was that if a patient reduced FODMAP foods, then consequently they would have less fermentation and less symptoms.  Their original patients felt better and had less symptoms. The low FODMAP diet was born! This is where social media, food product marketing and debunked medical claims found on the internet took a great idea and altered it.  What was a tool used to help identify which FODMAP containing foods caused you to have an irritable gut was turned into a diet- a diet where all FODMAP foods are severely limited or eliminated all together.  The FODMAP program was invented as a program, not a diet.  It is a 6 week elimination program that helps you determine what is safe for you and your unique gut.  It is not a way of living or a one size fits all diet.

Why not stay on a low FODMAP diet for ever?  What are the consequences?  If cookbook authors are doing it why shouldn't we?

If you eliminate FODMAPS you are eliminating many real whole foods that are beneficial to our health.  FODMAPS are needed to maintain a healthy bacterial population in our colons. They promote healthy bowel movements, decrease the risk of colorectal cancer, and reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In addition researchers at Monash University (where the FODMAP concept was born) recommend, “that a low FODMAP diet be followed strictly for just two to six weeks...and not be followed as a permanent diet for life” (www.fodmapguru.com).  The originators of the FODMAP concept do NOT suggest a long term low FODMAP diet.

What is the Google connection between Fructose Malabsorption and FODMAP?  Why did my Facebook friend pose her simple question?

A symptom of Fructose Malabsorption is gas.  Not just occasional gas, but gas that tells you based on smell and frequency that your gut biome is really off.  Something you are eating is disrupting your unique gut biome, altering the symbiotic relationship.  You can see why the Fructose Malabsorption and FODMAP connection happened.  FM causes gas, low FODMAP foods reduce gas; therefore, low FODMAP is good for FM.  Wrong!

Monash University developed the FODMAP program as a tool to help IBS patients determine what foods are safe and what foods are not safe for your unique gut.  The FODMAP program was NOT developed for Fructose Malabsorption patients specifically.  It was developed for Irritable Bowel patients.  It was developed for patients who haven't yet been given a Fructose Malabsorption diagnosis.  It is a tool to help you and your health care professional determine what is disrupting your gut.

Monash University has also put out a statement regarding your gut biome, natural bacteria and the production of bowel wind (gas).  Gas can be good, too-it is a sign of a healthy gut.

Here is a quote from the Monash University website regarding food reintroduction and FODMAPS: 

"When you experience symptoms, it is vital that you are tuned in to the severity. Pain and significant discomfort are not OK and you can discuss these outcomes with your treating dietitian who can advise further on future challenges and food trials you may better tolerate. But for many people, the reintroduction of FODMAPs, or FODMAP ingestion when eating, results in gas production and a little bloating. The initial thought is that there has been a reaction and the food should again be removed from the diet, but we ask you to think about it in a different light.

Fermentation and gas production after eating high FODMAP foods is beneficial to the gut. If you experience some gas related symptoms that are tolerable and perhaps just include some mild bloating and flatus, this could be a good sign that you are providing fuel that encourages good bacteria in your gut. Everyone experiences some bloating and flatus and it is important not to immediately consider these as ‘symptoms’ of IBS, rather they should be considered a normal part of healthy digestion (as long as there is no significant discomfort or pain!).

So remember, a little gas is a good thing."

But, wait, are all FODMAP foods bad for people with Fructose Malabsorption?  And, are low FODMAP foods safe for Fructose Malabsorption?  

The simple answer is NO.

Everyone has a unique gut and unique gut biome.  What works for me, may not work for you.  

And, NO, not all FODMAP foods are bad for people with Fructose Malabsorption.

For example:  I do not have an issue with feta cheese or mushrooms.  Both of these foods are listed on the Monash University High and Low FODMAP food list.

In addition, pineapple is listed as a safe, low FODMAP food on this list.  And, we know pineapple is not necessarily a safe food for patients with Fructose Malabsorption.  Yes, I can occasionally (once a month or so and based on what I ate the rest of the day) eat a few bites of pineapple.  But, if I sat down and ate a full serving of pineapple I would cause a Fructose Volcano in my gut.  

What's a Fructose Volcano?  If you have Fructose Malabsorption your body has a difficult time absorbing digested fructose.  The majority of the fructose you eat is not absorbed into your bloodstream; and sits in your gut resulting in all sorts of issues. It’s like a volcano waiting to erupt causing gas that makes you feel bloated, producing bowel wind, changing your bowel output (diarrhea and/or constipation), and causing a major inflammatory response.  

Back to the original question:

"Is it safe to assume that all low FODMAP foods are safe for FM?"

No, all low FODMAP foods are not safe for Fructose Malabsorption.  

There is not a one size fits all diet for everyone who has Fructose Malabsorption.  We each need to determine what works for us and our unique gut.

This is what makes Fructose Malabsorption so hard.  Why can't there be a one size fits all diet?  Life would be so much easier.

We, Fructose Malabsorption patients, have a few things in common (I explore this topic on my FBF blog):

1.  We know that high levels of fructose sugar cause a Fructose Volcano in our gut- a volcano waiting to erupt causing gas that makes you feel bloated, producing bowel wind, and changing your bowel output.  A volcano that causes chronic inflammation and can affect all aspects of our health.  But, we have an answer!  We know what the culprit is-FRUCTOSE!  

2.  We know that glucose is like a spaceship transporting fructose across the gut barrier into our bloodstream thus preventing the fructose volcano.  By paying attention to the fructose and glucose loads in food you can alleviate your symptoms, stop feeling like a volcano is about to erupt from your gut, and start living a healthy lifestyle again.

 

3.  Eating protein sources with essential amino acids also aids in the digestion of fructose.  For the last few years I have intuitively known that protein is my gut's friend.  I have even figured out that if I want to eat vegetables or fruit that are higher in fructose eating a protein source with it helps.  I never knew scientifically why this worked, but I intuitively knew why.  Recently one of my new Fructose Malabsorption friends shared an article from the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition that proves my theory.  Amino acids, found in proteins, have been scientifically proven to aid in fructose absorption.

 

4.  Yes, we all have a unique gut voice and need to find this voice and listen to it.  Because of our malabsorption we become intuitive eaters.  We learn what works and what doesn't work.  We know how to feed our guts, how to make healthy choices and how to find joy in safe eating habits.  It's as if each of our guts has it's own one of a kind fingerprint.  

 

 

5.  Fructose Malabsorption is a roller coaster.  Sometimes you feel like you are on top of the world feeling 100% healthy, and sometimes you are plummeting to the ground towards a Fructose Volcano.  We are not alone.  We have Fructose Malabsorption in common.  We can be in community together, support each other and teach each other.  

 

As a Fructose Malabsorption Community how can we support each other and share recipes if each of us is unique?  

I have learned a lot about this question since starting this website 1 year ago.  What works for me, may not work for you.  In fact I recently added a disclaimer to all of my recipes:

Everyone with Fructose Malabsorption tolerates different levels of fructose and has their own unique gut and gut voice. It is best to make a list of what feels good and what doesn’t, listen to your gut voice, and remember it is all about the daily balance. 

When I originally started the Families Balancing Fructose website I thought it would include a lot of recipes, a spotlight of products, FM resources and a few blog articles.  Over the last year I have shifted my focus.  Yes, I still have recipes and favorite products listed; but, I have focused more on blog articles in the last six months.  As Fructose Malabsorption patients we need to learn how to advocate for ourselves, understand what is happening inside our guts, and determine what makes our unique gut happy.  We need to find foods and recipes that work for us individually.  Let's share with each other, but also remember everyone is unique.

 

More Blog Articles By Families Balancing Fructose That Will Help You Learn About You and Your Unique Gut:

Cliff Notes on Sugar Digestion

Fructose Malabsorption and Chronic Inflammation, Symptoms Beyond Irritable Bowel

FODMAP:  A Closer Look

Fructose Malabsorption Action Steps

Grace's First Article

What Millennials Can Teach Us About Intuitive Eating

 

Sources:

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Article About The Facilitating Effects of Amino Acids

"Monash University:  The 3 phases of the low FODMAP diet"

"Kismet health:  Why this is not a long-term solution to your digestive issues"

"Fodmap Guru:  Should You Stay on a low FODMAP diet permanently?"

"A FODMAP Diet Update:  Craze or Credible?"

"The Dietary Fibers-FODMAPs Controversy"

"All About SIBO:  Small Intestinal Overgrowth"

Andrea Hardy RD explains why a low FODMAP diet can harm your gut.

 

Thursday, 14 March 2019 03:40

My Sugar Experiment

Written by

About a month ago I started a science experiment; a sugar science experiment to be exact.

In one of my former lives I was a science teacher.  I spent my days teaching 7th and 8th students about chemistry, biology, geology, how not to start a fire in the science lab, and the scientific method.  

I have a few funny stories from my days spent with 135 13 and 14 year olds.  Like the time one of my students attempted to hurdle his lab bench, but didn't take into account his low hanging pants and his lack of an NBA like vertical jump.  I think he thought he was the next Michael Jordan.  You could see it in his eyes before he launched himself into the air.  That confidence only lasted for a millisecond, crashing to the ground as he did like a tumbleweed with his pants caught in the lab bench.  It still makes me laugh out loud every time I think about it.  I wonder what he is doing 23 years later?  Is he a basketball star?  

Do you all remember the scientific method from junior high?  Do you even remember the name of your science teacher?  I hope my students remember me, but doubt that they do.  

I will give you few clues about the scientific method:  it has 5 steps, includes a hypothesis, and is the basic tenet of how to conduct an experiment.

Just in case you are old like me and can not remember what you learned 30 years ago, here is a review.

The Scientific Method:

  1. Make an observation.
  2. Ask a question.
  3. Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
  4. Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
  5. Test the prediction.
  6. Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

As I was contemplating my family's sugar habits after a very indulgent holiday season I asked myself a few questions:

Why is their so much sugar in breakfast breads, cookies, and cakes?

Do all of these recipes need that much sugar?

Wouldn't it be great if I could reduce the sugar by 50% in our favorite recipes?

Would my kids notice a difference?

 

I also made a few predictions:

If I could successfully remove 50% of the sugar from our favorite recipes then my daughter and I (who both have Fructose Malabsorption) could enjoy these treats more often.

I also had my doubts.  I predicted my science experiment would be a total flop.  The banana bread and chocolate chip cookies that are staples in our house would have a horrible taste and the texture would be different....meaning the kids would notice I had made a recipe change.

 

Let's apply the scientific method to my sugar experiment.

  1. Make an observation:  My kids, let's be honest me, too, adore baked goods!  We love baking together.  It is one of the ways I can get my preteen and teenage children to interact me.  It truly is like I am dangling the golden carrot in front of their face.  But, it's actually a cookie, brownie or breakfast bread.  "Kids, if you come and bake with me we can have a special afternoon treat."  This addiction is hard when you have Fructose Malabsorption and are limited to 15 grams of fructose per day.  We know that 1 tablespoon of sugar has 12 grams of sugar in it.  That means there are 6 grams of fructose in each tablespoon of sugar.   That is a lot of fructose when a chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for 1.5 cups of sugar.  The odds are stacked against me here.  I love to indulge in baked treats, but I need to be so careful.  
  2. Ask a question:  Could I the reduce the amount of sugar in our favorite beloved recipes and still like them and will my kids notice?
  3. Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation:  If I remove 1/2 of the sugar in our favorite recipes like:  banana bread, homemade ice cream, chocolate cake, pumpkin bread and cookies will my family notice the missing sugar?  Well, this was certainly a reason to start baking, and luring my kids into the kitchen to bake with me.  Are you curious how I duped them?  I actually altered the recipe card before we baked together...so sneaky of me.  wink
  4. Make a prediction based on the hypothesis:  They will totally notice the difference!  They will be able to taste the lack of sugar.
  5. Test the prediction:  First sugar experiment:  bake banana bread.  Result:  no comment.  Second sugar experiment:  make homemade chocolate chip ice cream.  Result:  no comment.  Third sugar experiment:  bake chocolate chip cookies.  Result:  no comment.   You get the idea..no comment, yes no one even mentioned a difference in taste or texture.  They loved it all and devoured it all!  
  6. Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions:  My kids have truly no idea that their favorite treats are actually healthier and missing 50% of the sugar.  WOW!

My new hypotheses or predictions based on my very scientific sugar experiment include:

What if I remove most of the sugar in stir fry recipes or our favorite crock pot meals?  I am predicting my children will have no clue their is a change based on my qualitative and quantitative data (their lack of comments).

Why didn't I think of this sooner?

And, what should I bake next?  

Share with me your favorite recipes.  Let's all dive into this sugar experiment concept.  

Any professional bakers out there?  

Can you tell me why recipes call for so much sugar?  

Is it our American taste buds?  

Are we all addicted to overly sweet, sugar soaked treats?

 

On our Families Balancing Fructose website I have a few of our favorite treat recipes listed.  In these recipes I have not reduced the sugar amount.  If you choose to try them, try using 1/2 of the recommended sugar and let me know if you taste a difference.

Zucchini Bread 

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Candy Cookies

On the Families Balancing Fructose blog I explore a few other sugar topics:

All About Sugar:  a collection of blog articles exploring sugar in all its natural and man-made forms

Coconut Sugar:  should we believe all of the hype and is it a safe choice for Fructose Malabsorption?

Cliff Notes® on Sugar Digestion

How A Food Intolerance Led To Undiagnosed Appendicitis and Emergency Surgery:

 

Last week my daughter, who has Fructose Malabsorption, started vomiting at 6:00 on a Monday evening and continued to vomit until late Tuesday morning.  My husband and I just assumed she had a bad case of the stomach flu or secretly ate something with a lot of fructose and was suffering the consequences.

Like all assumed stomach flu incidents I go into DEFCON 5 cleaning mode.  It is like I can see the egregious flu intruder floating around our house.  I strip beds, wipe down mattresses, bleach bathrooms, clean out the fridge...basically I become slightly neurotic.  My goal is to prevent the spread of the invader to other members of my family.  

When the flu hits I also start to "mother from a far".  I take care of my children, but I don't like to get too close.  My lack of human touch isn't based on detachment or a lack of concern.  I am honestly afraid of getting sick and then not being able to take care of my family.

So back to my story.  Here we are Tuesday afternoon and I force my daughter to leave her bed so I can change her sheets and open her windows (assuming that the freezing MN winter temperatures will assist me in my full onslaught flu attack).  It takes my daughter about 3 minutes to walk out to our family room.  She is moaning and groaning and I am thinking, "ok here comes the drama".  "This girl just needs a little food, the flu has definitely left her body, and we will be back to normal in no time."

WOW, was I so wrong!  Within 30 minutes of laying down in our family room my daughter started screaming in pain and clutching her lower right abdomen.  I went from mothering from a far to picking her up and assisting her into my car without a care about germs.  I knew my daughter needed emergent care and was really sick.

24 hours later we had visited two emergency rooms, taken a ride in an ambulance, spent 8 hours controlling pain with IV drugs, and paced the floors of our local Children's Hospital waiting for our daughter to wake up from surgery.  No, my daughter did not have the stomach flu nor ate too much fructose.  She had appendicitis and was very sick.  Her appendix was 5 times as big as it should be and green, and all of her intestines were angry and inflamed.

How did this happen?

How did I not know sooner what was happening to her? 

Were there any signs prior to the onset of vomiting?

Where was my mother's intuition?

Now that our daughter is back at home and on the road to recovery I can think about these questions and find answers.

3 months ago, December 2nd to be exact, my daughter started complaining about low belly pain.  She would text me from school and friends' houses complaining of tummy pain; sending me puking emojis with exclamation marks. Honestly, I thought she is 12, probably eating extra holiday candy and treats, testing her Fructose Malabsorption, and learning that her body definitely can not have a lot fructose.  I assumed her lack of energy was because she is a pre-teen and her body is growing and needs rest.  I can tell you that it never occurred to me that something might be wrong with my daughter.

In January my daughter continued to complain about her tummy pain.  At one point she gave up peanut butter for the week because she thought she had developed a peanut intolerance.  Hello, red flag!  

Why did I not put more stock into her gut voice? 

My daughter has an ardent and well cultivated gut voice.  She has been diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption for 7 years, knows how to listen to this voice, and is an intuitive eater.  95% of the time she listens to her gut, makes safe food choices and has learned how to successfully balance her daily fructose loads.  Yes, occasionally she eats too much fructose when she is with girlfriends.  But, we don't make her feel bad about that.  This is part of the process.  We want her to take ownership of her food intolerance and learn how to live with it.  

Why then?  Why as she was complaining about an upset tummy did I not listen?

Because when you have a food intolerance you learn to live with a certain amount of stomach distress.  When you have a food intolerance you do not have an iron gullet that is always content and happy.  My son likes to say that he has a hollow leg and an iron gullet.  He can eat anything he wants, any amount he wants and never feels any ill effect.  That is not my daughter.  Her tummy is sometimes irritable.  She can not eat whatever she wants.  If she goes to a movie she packs safe snacks.  If she goes to a friend's house for dinner she typically eats mostly protein because she knows most commercial sauces and products don't work for her gut.  She is constantly thinking about what she is going to eat for future meals and how those choices affect what she is currently eating.  My daughter knows her gut and knows how to keep it happy.

My heart breaks for my daughter.  Watching her in the hospital in intense pain was awful.  I felt like a terrible mother.  

Why hadn't I listened to her?  

Why did I let Fructose Malabsorption blind me from other potential problems?  

Does this happen to everyone who has a food intolerance and/or an irritable gut?  

How do you determine what is your normal and what is more serious?

How can we learn to advocate for ourselves and our guts?

How can we tell the difference between a little irritability; and when our gut is attempting to get our attention, sending up a red flag that something more serious is going on?

I searched "abdominal pain" on the Mayo Clinic website and found a very extensive list of potential causes.  I had no idea so many acute issues can mask themselves as simple abdominal pain. 

I have learned two important lessons from this experience.

1.  Go to the doctor, seek medical help if you have ongoing abdominal pain.  All gut unrest is not always related to your food intolerance.

2.  My daughter is a tough cookie.  Her hockey team sent her a get well present that included a card with the definition of a tough cookie:

"1.  Someone with the just the right mix of sweetness and strength.  

2.  One who doesn't crumble under pressure.  

3.  A fighter who's too busy kicking butt to sit down and cry, but know it's okay to do both.

 4.  A person who doesn't always ask for support, but has lots of friends who

would do anything to help."

Thursday, 07 February 2019 01:04

It's Ok To Sometimes Be A Little Gassy

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Why do we panic when we feel a little gassy?

Why does a little bowel wind send us into a tailspin where we start evaluating everything we have consumed in the last 3 days making us feel like we have done something wrong, indulged in the forbidden fructose fruit?

Why?  Because we know what it is like to live in a state of constant bowel unrest.  

Before I was diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption each and every evening I looked 3 months pregnant.  My gut was so bloated that my pants wouldn't fit.  Do you all sympathize with me?  Have you felt this way before?  If you have Fructose Malabsorption I assume you know this feeling all too well.

Where does all this air go that is living in your distended gut?  It just doesn't magically disappear.  It tends to come out your back side.  

Can I just say I don't like the word fart?  I prefer more sophisticated terms like flatulance, or funnier phrases like booty cough or rectal turbulence.  "Fart" makes me feel embarrassed.  "A little gassy" seems more medical to me, like there is a medical reason why my body is tooting.  

This "medical disturbance" in my body used to happen so often that I coined the phrase:  "Fructose Volcano".   What is a Fructose Volcano?  If you have Fructose Malabsorption your body has a difficult time absorbing digested fructose.  The majority of the fructose you eat is not absorbed into your bloodstream; and sits in your gut resulting in all sorts of issues.  It’s like a volcano waiting to erupt causing gas that makes you feel bloated, producing bowel wind, and changing your bowel output (diarrhea and/or constipation).  

As soon as I was diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption and started eating a clean, low fructose diet my gut and gut output made a radical change.  I could start to see my abdominal muscles.  I didn't need to loosen my belt in the evening or even worse change into my house sweatpants; you know those sweatpants that you would never leave the house in, those sweatpants that are so incredibly comfortable and incredibly unflattering at the same time.  You know what I am talking about.  Everyone has house sweatpants.  

I also started to notice a change in my gas levels.  Before diagnosis they were in the red zone, the gauge was teetering on the brink of self-destruction.  Now, after diagnosis I live in the green zone.

So, then why do I still get occasionally gassy?  Should this gas scare me?  Is it always fructose related?

According to the Mayo Clinic website:  "everyone passes gas several times daily" and "intestinal gas rarely indicates a serious condition. It can cause discomfort and embarrassment, but it's usually just a sign of a normally functioning digestive system."

If the Mayo Clinic tells me that everyone passes gas and does so multiple times a day; then why do I always evaluate everything I eat when I feel a little gassy?

I think it is because I am honestly incredibly scared to feel the way I felt before I was diagnosed.  In addition to my irritable gut I felt downright awful.  My joints ached, my nose leaked all year long, and my brain was in a constant state of fog.  For some reason for me gas equals warning sign, red flag, the fructose volcano is about to erupt.

Last week I went out to lunch with one of my good friends who happens to be a dietitian.  Our conversation was mostly about gas.  Yes, it is a funny conversation to have over lunch!  My friend confirmed what the Mayo states:  most gas is not bad, gas happens, gas is a sign that your body is digesting food.  No, I do not need to panic every time I pass wind.  

 

My friend also taught me two important digestive lessons.

1.  Certain foods produce more gas.  Foods like soybeans, bananas, whole wheat and oats are in a food category called Prebiotics.  

Probiotics and Prebiotics what is the difference?

Probiotics are foods with active live cultures like yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, pickles and kefir.  

Prebiotics can stimulate the growth and balance of healthy bacteria in the colon.  Prebiotics are potentially protective against colon cancer and other diseases, help to absorb calcium, and may reduce the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the colon.  

Prebiotic foods may produce occasional gas and that is ok.  The gas is a sign that your colon is producing healthy bacteria.

2.  If you have been on a restricted diet for an extended period of time, or are in a challenge phase of an elimination diet protocol who do you know if the gas is good or bad?  That is a good question.  My dietitian friend told me that gas will most likely happen as you introduce new whole real foods into your diet.  

For example; if you eat something new like oats and have a little gas that is ok.  Your body is doing the right thing, those good oat Prebiotic bacteria are doing their job.

However, if you eat oats and your gut starts really yelling at you or your bowel output makes a huge shift in output or it causes very smelly gas then that food like oats is probably not a good choice for you.  

 

What about the FODMAP protocol? It is recommended by many dietitians as a tool to help determine what your unique gut likes and doesn't like.  Here is a quote from the Monash University website regarding food reintroduction and FODMAPS: 

"When you experience symptoms, it is vital that you are tuned in to the severity. Pain and significant discomfort are not OK and you can discuss these outcomes with your treating dietitian who can advise further on future challenges and food trials you may better tolerate. But for many people, the reintroduction of FODMAPs, or FODMAP ingestion when eating, results in gas production and a little bloating. The initial thought is that there has been a reaction and the food should again be removed from the diet, but we ask you to think about it in a different light.

Fermentation and gas production after eating high FODMAP foods is beneficial to the gut. If you experience some gas related symptoms that are tolerable and perhaps just include some mild bloating and flatus, this could be a good sign that you are providing fuel that encourages good bacteria in your gut. Everyone experiences some bloating and flatus and it is important not to immediately consider these as ‘symptoms’ of IBS, rather they should be considered a normal part of healthy digestion (as long as there is no significant discomfort or pain!).

So remember, a little gas is a good thing."

 

What have I learned about gas and my gut?

1.  A little gas is ok.  It is actually a sign that my body is going through a healthy process.

2.  I need to eat those foods that give me a little gas because my body needs those Prebiotic bacteria.

3.  I do not need to freak out every time I have a little gas.  Not all gas leads to the dreaded Fructose Volcano.

4.  If I do eat something and my gas and other symptoms are more severe then that food is not a good choice for my unique gut.

 

Additional FBF Blogs:

Cliff Notes On Sugar Digestion:  more details regarding Fructose Volcanoes and Glucose Spaceships

A Closer Look at FODMAPS

Fructose Malabsorption and Chronic Inflammation

Daily Fructose Malabsorption Journal 

 

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