Displaying items by tag: fructose malabsorption

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.

Published in FBF Blog

Daily Fructose Malabsorption Journal:



 

Item and Serving Size:

Gut Voice/Health Score:

Fructose and Glucose Amount:

Protein Amount:

Water Amount:

FM Phase:

Breakfast:





 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch:







           

Dinner:







           

Snacks:




           




Why should we use a daily food journal?:

    

A daily food journal is a must when you have a food intolerance.  If you use it consistently it can show you trends in your diet and health.  It will help you understand why you have valleys, mountains and even roller coasters in your gut health.  If you have Fructose Malabsorption it will teach you what food, amount of food, or collections of food caused the dreaded Fructose Volcano

When I was first diagnosed with FM I used a daily food journal for the first few years.  It taught me many lessons.  I now know that sugar alcohols, like sorbitol, are not my friend and definitely something I try to completely eliminate from my diet.  

And, my food journal showed me that, yes, I can eat green beans and black beans, but only a few times a month.  So even though I occasionally have left over black beans I should not feel guilty and eat them.  My gut prefers if I eat them sporadically.  

Occasionally, my gut feels off.  Yes, even after 10 plus years of living with Fructose Malabsorption I still have not so great days.  When this happens I always go back to recording everything I eat in my food journal.  It truly helps me understand negative patterns in my diet.

 

Tips on using this daily journal:

 

    *each tip corresponds to the columns in this journal

1.  Write down everything you eat including serving size.  This can be difficult when you eat processed foods.  When I was fist diagnosed with FM I would staple the labels/packages to each daily journal.  After a few months I really started to limit processed foods because it is so hard to determine what is safe and what isn't safe.  In fact, I came up with a list of questions you should ask yourself every time you look at a food label.

2.  I like to use 5 emojis or symbols to help me quickly evaluate how I am feeling each day.  For example: a smiling emoji smile would describe a day where my gut is not yelling at me, I have a lot of energy, my joints do not ache and I feel healthy.  

Fructose Malabsorption can cause chronic inflammation and affect you in a negative way in addition to an irritable gut.  Pay attention to other symptoms in your body.  I explore this topic in my FBF blog.

Another symbol you could use is a Fructose Volcano.  

This would be the opposite of the smiling emoji. A Fructose Volcano occurs when 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).

3.  You can use the USDA food chart to find the fructose and glucose amount in food.  Why is this important?  When you have Fructose Malabsorption you are limited to around 15 grams of fructose each day (some people can have more and some people can have less).  Glucose is your friend.  It helps your body absorb the extra fructose that is floating around in your gut.  It is like a spaceship.  

                                                                          

 

And, remember table sugar has equal amounts of fructose and glucose.  For example 5 grams of sugar equals 2.5 grams of fructose and 2.5 grams of glucose. Yes, we can eat table sugar because it contains equal amounts of fructose and glucose.  However, we have to limit our table sugar consumption.  For example, a typical chocolate chip cookie has 8 grams of table sugar:  4 grams of fructose and 4 grams of glucose.  In my article Cliff Notes® on Sugar Digestion I explore this topic more.

4.  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 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.  My goal is to eat protein with every meal.

5.  Eating 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 our 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.

6.  There are many Fructose Malabsorption Phases in your life after you get diagnosed and adopt a new diet.

     Recently Diagnosed (RD):  You have just learned you have FM; and after seeing your dietitian you are working on eliminating foods that do not work for you and your unique gut.  Typically, your dietitian will put you on a 6 week elimination diet that is very strict. The goal of this diet is to help you settle your gut and have a fresh start.  You are working on the basics and will later fine tune your diet.  On the Families Balancing Fructose Website there are two blog articles that will help you understand what is going on in your body:  Fructose Malabsorption Action Steps and Cliff Notes® on Sugar Digestion.

     Limited Diet, But Ready To Test New Foods (LD):  You have completed the elimination phase of your new diet and are ready to test new foods.  Consider you, your gut and your body as a giant science experiment. With your dietitian’s help you will slowly start trying new foods in small amounts.  Typically, you will try one new food every 3 days. When you have Fructose Malabsorption fructose can have a cumulative effect over a 3 day period. For example; what you eat on Monday may affect you on Wednesday.  Your goal each day is to limit your fructose load to 15 grams per day.  If you eat 20 grams on a Monday you need to eat less on Tuesday and Wednesday. Your body is like a scientific scale. Everyday you have to think about how much fructose and glucose you consume.  

                                                                           

     Hold Steady, Good Balance (HS):  You and your gut are in a happy place.  You are eating a variety of foods and 90% of the time you feel healthy.

     Back to Basics (BB):  Sometimes when I travel or go out to eat too much my gut starts talking back to me.  I do my best to eat clean and healthy, but traveling and going out to eat poses problems.  We can lose control regarding ingredients and fructose amounts.  Our family does travel and we have found success by doing a lot of research in advance.  I wrote a blog about traveling with Fructose Malabsorption after our family visited Boston and Maine.  My Fructose Malabsorption friends have also taught me how to explain Fructose Malabsorption to waiters, chefs and friends.  When I do have a setback I somewhat revert back to the first phase, the recently diagnosed phase, and give my body a reset. My family has a few reset dinners that help us get back on track.




 

Published in Fructose Resources
Monday, 26 November 2018 22:11

How do you explain Fructose Malabsorption?

Has this happened to you?

You walk into a new restaurant, sit down and peruse the menu?  There appears to be a few safe options, but you are not in the mood to test your fructose intolerance and definitely not in the mood for a fructose volcano?  So you decide to advocate for yourself.  The waiter comes over to take your drink orders and tell you about the daily specials.  You take this opportunity to tell him that you have Fructose Malabsorption.  Here is where the blank stare begins.  You can tell that the waiter is already thinking about how he needs to bus dishes at table 9 and take drink refill orders at table 11.  He is definitely not cued in to you and your intolerance.  But, you solider on and say something like, "Fructose Malabsorption is a food intolerance".  "I am missing the enzyme to digest fructose."  "When I eat foods high in fructose my entire body reacts."  At the end of your lengthy description you assert your self and declare I have a fructose allergy.  Let's be honest the waiter was lost in translation when you mentioned the word fructose and never heard the word allergy.

It is not the waiter's fault.  Fructose Malabsorption is a hard intolerance to explain for adults, let alone for young kids.  It is complicated.  It is definitely not a one size fits all kind of intolerance.  It is as unique as your own fingerprint.

Let's try another scenario common in our world.

You are invited to a co-workers for dinner or better yet your office plans a holiday potluck.  At lunch time you walk into the conference room.  The 20 foot table is laden with homemade dips; crockpots of chili; store purchased bars, pies and cookies; and salads with dressings that most likely contain honey, high fructose corn syrup or some other man made sugar.  To you you don't see a table of amazing comfort foods you see red fructose flags.  So many fructose flags that you already feel a fructose volcano growing inside your gut.  It's like your body is absorbing the fructose just by looking and smelling it.  Your first instinct is to run out of the conference room.  But, then you see your boss standing over her crockpot of homemade chili and you freeze, sweat starts to pour down your back and your mouth goes dry.  What are you going to say?  How do you not walk out of the conference room without a bowl of your boss' chili let alone the rest of your co-worker's great-grandmother's 7 layer bar recipe?  Again, you launch into a lengthy description about Fructose Malabsorption.  One of your co-workers immediately sizes you up and decides you are just a picky eater.  Another one looks at you like your one of those people who only eats from the Earth and doesn't know how to just live a little. You try desperately to regain control of the situation.  You start explaining how glucose is a safer sugar and you can eat a minimal amount of foods with sugar as long as those foods contain glucose.  You even think, ok, what if I draw a kitchen scale on the conference room dry erase board and explain how glucose helps transport fructose in my body.  By this time you've lost everyone.  They have their backs turned to you loading up their plates with a sampling of every food on that table.  And, you walk back to your desk feeling despondent and lonely.  

Or how about my 11 year daughter.  Here is what happened to her.

A month ago at school a friend was passing out the oh, so hard to find Carmel Apple Suckers at the lunch table.  Have you ever seen these suckers?  The ingredient list looks like the back of a shampoo bottle.  My daughter, Grace, politely declines the poisonous sucker.  But, no the kids at her table won't have it.  "Why?"  "Why won't you eat the sucker?"  "They are amazing!"  "My mom drove around to 4 Walgreens just so I could bring these to school."  Grace goes for the allergy argument.  "I am allergic to fructose."  The kids look at her like, "say what?".  She says, "yes, I can't eat the sucker because it will make me sick."  And then she thinks, "oh no, why did I say sick?"  "Now they are going to ask my what kind of sick and I definitely don't want to tell them what would happen to my tummy if I ate that sucker."

So how to we explain Fructose Malabsorption?  How do we advocate for ourselves and our children?

Grace and I have been practicing a few new techniques this fall.

Technique #1: 

Grace was invited to to a new friend's house for dinner a few weeks ago.  The mom sweetly texted me and asked me if Grace had any allergies.  When I received the text I was thrilled that this new friend had such an awesome mom.  Grace was not thrilled.  She wanted to immediately cancel the date.  Grace does not like to talk about her Fructose Malabsorption.  She is getting better now that we started this website, but this is still a struggle for her.  Grace wants to feel normal.  I looked at Grace and simply said, "you like this girl, you need to own up to what makes you different, you can do this."  To my surprise and shock Grace took the challenge.  Here is the text she had me send:  "Thank you for asking.  Grace is allergic to some types of sugar.  Grace is really good at knowing what she can and can not eat.  She can read labels and understand them."  Wow!  You Go Girl!  You rock!  This worked for Grace.  This new friend and mom not only empowered Grace to explain her intolerance, but it also empowered her to take action when she was at this friend's house.  In the past we have relied on her friends' moms to advocate for her.  This is tough, too tough.   You basically have to give the mom a dissertation on fructose and labels and hidden sugars.

Technique #2:

Earlier this year we went out to dinner at a new farm to table Asian restaurant in Uptown.  I had reviewed the menu and website before we made our reservation and found a few things that appeared safe.  When the waiter asked for my drink order I told him I was allergic to honey and other types of sugar and needed to know all of the ingredients in the sauce of the dish I had chosen.  The waiter responded positively.  He returned to the table with a list of ingredients and also mentioned another menu item I ordered.  Why did this work?  Because I took the word fructose out of the explanation and added the word allergy.  And, I tried to keep my explanation simple. 

Technique #3:

Recently, I went out to lunch with friend I met through Pilates training at one of those new, popular, overpriced salad bars.  She casually, without judgment, asked me why I made so many substitutions when I ordered my salad.  I looked at her and said, "I have this food intolerance called Fructose Malabsorption."  "It is a little similar to diabetes."  "My body cannot process fructose sugar."  "And fructose sugar is found in a lot of fresh whole foods and salad dressing ingredients."  She looked at me and said, "that must be hard."  I knew right away that this new friend of mine was a good one!  And, to all the people living with diabetes out there including my godmother and husband's good friend I feel for you, worry about you, support you and so hope we can find a cure for your disease.  I know my Fructose Malabsorption is nothing like your diabetes.  But, people understand your disease and I need people to understand my intolerance because fructose really messes with my entire body.

How do you explain Fructose Malabsorption? Share with me your successes and failures.  Let's learn from each other.

 

Published in FBF Blog
Tuesday, 24 July 2018 21:16

My Brother and the Agave Incident

You know how you have those stories in your family that you pass down from generation to generation?  Those stories that always make you laugh as soon as they are mentioned and transport you instantly back in time?  In my family our stories include Sao Feng from Pirates of the Caribbean, David Hasselhoff and Captiva Island, a mule deer, banana tubing at Grandview, and the Minneapolis Pedal Pub.  These stories are our favorite stories to tell.  When ever we meet someone new and have them over for dinner one of these stories inevitably comes up in conversation and makes us laugh so hard our cheeks ache.  These are the stories that define us.  When told, these stories turn strangers into friends and awkward moments into intimate gatherings.  

Over the 4th of July we spent 10 glorious days on Gull Lake with my parents, my brother and sister in law, my nieces, my cousins and a good friend.  After a long day on the water or on the golf course we would all meet on our screened-in porch for dinner, a few cocktails and lots of story telling.  10 nights of family time and laughter is so good for my soul.  I reconnected with my family and was reminded why it is so important to spend time with those we love.  

One evening, my brother and cousin declared it Margarita Night!  They are both avid athletes and conscientious about their diet.  They primarily eat food from the Earth and limit man-made highly processed food products.  So Margarita Night did not come from a mix.  My brother spent a painstakingly 30 minutes squeezing fresh limes and purchased an "organic" tequila.  It was 93 degrees and 93% humid in the shade that evening so the margaritas went down pretty quickly.  Needless to say we laughed a lot and retold many of our favorite stories.  

Later than evening, after my brother and his wife had put the girls to bed my brother started to feel kind of yucky.  At first he noticed his gut was talking back to him.  It was rumbling and gurgling and basically yelling at him; warning him that something was about to happen.  Then the intense pain set in.  The pain in your gut that makes you sweat and you don't know if your body is going to eject the invader from your top end or bottom end.  I will not get into the rest of the details, but will let you know that my brother's gut decided to purge the intruder through the back door.  

The next morning I looked at my brother and instantly knew something was wrong.  He had dark circles under his eyes and looked a little green.  He told me what happened, and I simply looked at him and said, "you have been agaved!".  "Agaved?", he questioned.  "Yes," I responded.  "The supposedly organic tequila you purchased was made with 100% agave syrup".  

My brother gave me one of those looks like here we go again - my sister, the know it all, it about to impart wisdom on her little brother.  In fact, I was.  

I informed my brother that "agave syrup is basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as a health food.” (a).  And, agave syrup is actually higher in fructose than high-fructose corn syrup.(b)  It contains 90% fructose.  I concluded with the simple fact that the agave plant is used as a natural laxative in herbal medicine practices. (c).  Hence, that is why he spent the evening having a "Dumb and Dumber moment".

My brother was shocked.  He assumed the tequila he purchased was healthier.  After all, it's label claimed it was a healthy choice.  It was made with agave syrup and agave syrup is a "natural product".  Clearly my brother had been duped.  He was trying to make a healthy choice, one that concurs with his food beliefs and diet culture.  My brother had been "agaved"!!!  

Even Dr. Oz has been "agaved".  In 2014 he posted the following on his blog:  "Over the past few months, I’ve become increasingly concerned about a sweetener that I’ve recommended on my show in the past. After careful consideration of the available research, today I’m asking you to eliminate agave from your kitchen and your diet." (d)

Later in the day my brother started to feel better and was ready to laugh about his evening.  I did feel bad for him, but I also knew that this would become one of those stories we add to our collection.  I now lovingly refer to it as:  "My brother and the agave incident."

Sources:

a.  Debunking the Blue Agave Myth

b.  Is Agave Nectar Good for You?

c.  Agave Nectar Side Effects

d. Dr Oz's Blog

 

Published in FBF Blog

Is your story similar to mine?  Did you struggle for years before finding an answer to what was making you feel so sick?  Did you ignore or explain away many of your symptoms? That is my story.

I assumed my constant brain fog and exhaustion were due to our hectic life schedule (even though I was sleeping 8 hours every night).  I presumed my joints throbbed because I had logged too many hours in the pool pursuing my dream of becoming a collegiate swimmer.  And, I definitely knew why all winter long I had sinus infections, bronchitis and a constant runny nose.  It was because I was around little kids. I was just one of those people who got sick a lot.  In fact, one of my friends called me “Leaky Lindsay”.

Never did I think these symptoms were severe enough to talk to a doctor.  It was much easier to explain them away and just trudge on day to day feeling only 50% healthy.  It wasn’t until I started to have an irritable bowel that I sought out medical advice. I easily avoided dealing with all of my other symptoms, but I couldn’t ignore my stomach pain or the fact that I was so bloated I looked like I was 3 months pregnant.  No, I was not expecting at this time, I just had a large belly full of undigested fructose that was wreaking havoc on my entire body. I had no idea my brain fog, achy joints and sinus issues were also due to Fructose Malabsorption.

In fact when I was first diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption; and learned how to avoid foods that are high in fructose and man-made sweeteners it never occurred to me that my entire body would change, not just my gut.  One month into changing my diet I started to notice many changes. I wasn’t seeking out a mid-afternoon Starbucks run. I could make it all day without yawning. I could actually focus on a conversation in the late afternoon and not feel like I was living in Seattle battling the fog.  When I woke up in the morning I didn’t feel like an 85 year old. In fact I started jumping out of bed ready to tackle the day. And, my first holiday season without bronchitis and too many antibiotics was a holiday miracle!

Why didn’t I advocate for myself when I was feeling awful?  Why did if I have to put on a brave face and live only ½ of a life?  Now knowing how great I feel I wish I would have listened to my body and found an answer sooner.  

Are you like me?  Do you have other symptoms beyond an irritable bowel?  Are you trying to explain away these symptoms?

Do you have weird skin rashes or suffer from eczema? Are you worried about your next migraine, hoping it won’t happen on an important day at work?  Has your child been diagnosed with ADHD, but something tells you it might be something your child is eating?

Yes, all of these maladies can be caused by Fructose Malabsorption.

When your body doesn’t have the right mechanics to breakdown and transport the fructose in your food choices it causes a downward spiral of events.  Without getting too technical or using medical jargon, when you digest more fructose than your body can handle it causes an inflammation response in your body.  Your body is trying to do the right thing. It is trying to rid itself from the fructose invader. It does this in multiple ways. Water is pulled out of your cells and sent to your gut in hopes that the fructose villain can be flushed out.  This is why you can get a dry mouth, suffer from headaches and feel like you are living in Seattle. Your body becomes dehydrated. In addition, your immune system which is like the most super of Superwoman releases special chemicals called cytokines.  Think of cytokines as the Robin to the Batman. They are the workers trying to destroy the offensive fructose. Cytokines produce a mucus effect in your body that can contribute to lung and sinus issues and cause all sorts of other symptoms.

Doctors and scientists are starting to recognize that Fructose Malabsorption doesn’t just harm your gut, in can negatively affect your entire body.  Many of my favorite doctors are now recognizing the Fructose Malabsorption and chronic inflammation connection. We are the ones teaching them by informing them of how we are feeling.

If you are living only ½ of a life find someone who can help you.  Someone who can help you heal your body from the inside out, who can teach you what and what not to eat, and who recognizes the other symptoms of Fructose Malabsorption beyond an irritable bowel.

 

Resources:

If you prefer technical language and medical jargon this is a great article about chronic inflammation: Inflammatory Symptoms and Food Intolerances

If you are looking for a local dietitan/doctor to help you check out: healthprofs.com

Published in FBF Blog
Monday, 07 May 2018 01:51

Southwestern Barley and Vegetable Salad

Southwestern Barley and Vegetable Salad:

 

Ingredients:

Vegetables and Barley:

  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped jalepeno

 

Marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

 

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

 

 

Directions:

  1. Mix all vegetables together in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl combine all marinade ingredients and toss with vegetables.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together all dressing ingredients and toss with vegetables.

 

Tips:

  1. You can add 1/2 chopped red onion if you like onions.  I think the onion flavor becomes dominant and choose not to use it.
  2. We add more diced jalapeños because we prefer a little more kick.
  3. I typically serve this with grilled chicken, shrimp or flank steak.  My salsa verde flank steak would work perfect with this salad.
  4. We prefer to use Wild Harvest canned vegetables because of their "free from" list of additives and man-made products they are committed to not using in all of their products.
  5. This recipe is one of my friend's favorite.  It works well for a girlfriend's lunch, Taco Tuesday night, a backyard picnic and a Cinco de Mayo party.
  6. You could make this recipe gluten free and substitute rice for the barley. 

 

Published in Quick, Easy, Healthy
Saturday, 28 April 2018 12:28

FODMAP: a closer look

FODMAP:  a closer look

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.  

In 2008 after my diagnosis my doctor and dietitian advised me to limit my daily fructose load to less than 15 grams per day, avoid all man-made highly processed products, steer clear of all man-made sweeteners that are high in fructose, keep a food journal, and most importantly eat a diverse diet of real whole foods.  A low FODMAP diet was never suggested to me.

Now in 2018, ten years later, I am thriving.  My gut is not yelling at me. I do not go to bed so bloated that I look 3 months pregnant. I have a ton of energy and am happy.  

Yes, there still are limitations in my life.  We rarely go out to eat, and when we do we search out a local, chef driven restaurant committed to using real whole food ingredients.  Most of the items in our grocery cart are not convenience items. My cart is filled with whole foods found in the perimeter of the store.  In addition to weekly runs to the grocery store we visit our local bakery, Breadsmith, at least twice a week to purchase fresh baguettes and sandwich bread.   A fair amount of my time is spent meal planning and cooking. I still get very nervous when eating at a friend’s house; worried that I might eat something that doesn’t agree with me.  But, I can live with these limitations because I feel so much better than I did when I was first diagnosed. I know what doesn’t work for me. I have an answer and I know how to treat my intolerance by eating real whole food.

When I started my website adventure in the fall of 2017, 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 is FODMAP?  FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols-a mouthful!   Basically, FODMAPS are foods that aren’t well absorbed in the small intestine, pass into the colon and undergo fermentation by bacteria.  Please understand this is a natural process. Fermentation by bacteria should happen in your colon and is good for you. Everyone should eat FODMAP foods.  They are high in fiber and contain vital nutrients. We know now that bacteria lives in our gut for a reason and is important to having a healthy gut.

Why then is a low FODMAP diet suggested?  Who invented the FODMAP diet and why?

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.

I am definitely NOT advocating against the FODMAP diet.  What I am advocating for is to use this diet the way it was meant to be used.  In actuality, it wasn’t a diet when Monash University introduced the low FODMAP concept.  It was a diagnostic tool used to help patients with IBS regain a healthy gut. There are 3 phases of the low FODMAP diet, not one.

  1. A low FODMAP phase where you limit your FODMAP foods for 2-6 weeks under the care of a medical professional.  
  2. A re-challenge phase where you slowly re-introduce foods and journal your symptoms.  This phase takes 6-8 weeks and assistance from a medical professional is suggested.
  3. The third phase is an adapted FODMAP diet program.  Your medical professional will create a lifestyle diet for you that is diverse and includes tolerable FODMAP foods.   

 

The FODMAP concept is not a diet.  It is a tool to help you settle your gut and determine what works for YOU and doesn’t work for YOU!.  It is not a 100% lifestyle change. Each of has a unique gut biome, and the goal of this concept is to listen to your gut and figure out what makes you unique.

So why are people living a low FODMAP diet lifestyle?  

I think there are multiple reasons for this.  

  1. When we have known what it is like to have IBS and not to have IBS it is scary to think about eating something that might not agree with you and make you feel sick again.  The concept of reintroducing food can be daunting.
  2. I also think the wealth of information, albeit fake information on the internet, is pushing people to try the FODMAP diet without understanding the original concept.  
  3. And, since all of us our guilty of using the internet to diagnose and treat ourselves we are not searching out relationships with medical professionals who can help us.

Why not stay on a low FODMAP diet for ever?  What are the consequences?

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.

Truly, I can see a lot of benefits from the 3 phase FODMAP approach.  What took me years to determine regarding my unique gut could have been discovered in a matter of a few months if I had known of and adopted the FODMAP concept.  For example, I learned after a lot of trial and error and food journaling that sugar alcohols, like sorbitol don’t work for me.

If you choose to follow the low FODMAP concept, then consult a trained doctor and/or dietitian who can guide you along your food journey.  Thriving with Fructose Malabsorption is possible. It takes time to understand your gut’s voice, but it is worth it.

 

Resources:

"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.

 

 

 

Published in FBF Blog

Let's face it weeknight dinners can get boring, repetitive and typically lack a lot of flavor.  Especially when we are trying to prepare and serve dinner in 30 minutes while juggling after school activities, homework and our own hectic work schedules.  This weeknight dinner is not boring!  It is spicy, colorful, full of diverse flavors and loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients.

 

Ingredients:

Smokey Cauliflower:

  • 2 bags pre-chopped cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

 

Southwestern Potatoes:

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

 

Salsa Verde Flank Steak:

  • 1 pound flank steak
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin
  • 2-3 tablespoons Double Take Verde Good Green Chile Salsa

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat cookie sheet and oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine cauliflower, butter, olive oil and all spices except the cilantro.
  3. When the cookie sheet and oven are preheated roast the cauliflower for 25-30 minutes.  Top with cilantro.
  4. While the cauliflower is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an extra large skillet for potatoes.  In addition, preheat your grill to medium-high.
  5. Cut each potato into 8 wedges.  Season with cumin, coriander and salt.  Cook potatoes on each side for 3-5 minutes until they become light brown.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 more minutes or until done.  Top with cilantro.
  6. Once the potatoes are browned on both sides and do not need to be tended to season the steak with spices.  Grill for 4-5 minutes per side or until it has reached your desired temperature.  Top with Green Chile Salsa.

 

Tips:

  1. When I am limited on prep time I like to purchase pre-chopped cauliflower.  This can save you at least 5 minutes.
  2. If I have an extra 5 minutes before work I will pre-measure all of my spices into mini-bowls.  It makes cooking so easy after work.  I feel like I am on a TV cooking show.
  3. If you do not own a grill substitute a cast iron skillet when cooking the steak and use 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. We are obsessed with Double Take Verde Good Green Chile Salsa.  It is made right here in Minnesota using fresh ingredients.  You can have it shipped direct from their kitchen to your kitchen.  There are many other flavors to try, each with it's own unique flavor and personality.
  5. Typically, I use Spice World Ready To Use Minced garlic.  I keep it in a Tupperware in my fridge.  Again, I am always looking for how to save a few minutes when preparing a meal.  

 

 

 

Published in Quick, Easy, Healthy
Thursday, 19 April 2018 13:02

Wrigley's Doublemint Perfectly Sweet Gum

It is time to celebrate!  We have officially found a safe gum for my daughter, Grace, to chew.  It is made with real sugar.  It does NOT contain high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, xylitol, or any other man-made sweetener.  Grace is so excited to feel like her friends.  Thank you Wrigley's!  We found Wrigley's Doublemint Perfectly Sweet Gum online.

Here is a great article how candy companies are recognizing our desire for "cleaner" products.  We do have a voice, and companies are listening!

Published in Products
Tuesday, 17 April 2018 00:50

Primavera Pasta

Pasta Primavera:

Ingredients:

  • ½ box favorite noodles
  • 2 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch slices 
  • extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 yellow or red pepper, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small red onion, chopped (or 1 tbsp onion powder)
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½  cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper (or more if you like a little more kick)
  • 4 chicken breasts boiled and shredded
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh basil or Litehouse Basil
  • ½ shredded parmesan cheese 
  • 1 large bunch super greens

 

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to directions.  Add asparagus for last two minutes of cooking time.  Drain pasta and asparagus and set aside.
  2. In a large fry pan saute yellow or red pepper, mushrooms, onion and garlic for 5 minutes in EVOO.  Add broth, whipping cream, salt and crushed pepper.  Bring to a slight boil and cook until thick.
  3. Add chicken, basil, parmesan cheese, and pasta mixture to fry pan.  Stir on low for 5-8 minutes until well combined and sauce is absorbed.
  4. Serve with your favorite super greens on the side.

 

Tips:

  1. If you are short on time use a shredded rotisserie chicken.  We prefer to make our own version of rotisserie like chicken
  2. This dish is best if you allow time for all of the flavors to combine and for the sauce to become absorbed.
  3. If you are using onion powder add it when you add the whipping cream and broth.  This will prevent the powder from browning.
  4. You can substitute rice for the noodles and make this recipe gluten free.  
  5. I also use this recipe to clean out fresh vegetables from my fridge.  Sometimes I add zucchini, spinach, peas, and green beans.  

 

 

 

Page 1 of 5