Displaying items by tag: fructose malabsorption tips

Sunday, 14 July 2019 00:27

Low Sugar "Puppy Chow"

My daughter is 12, has Fructose Malabsorption and recently was asked to go with her friend to their cabin.  She was super excited, but also very anxious at the same time.  Three days, two nights away from home at a lake with a good friend up in the Northwoods sounds magical when you are 12.  But, when you have Fructose Malabsorption food fears creep into your thoughts and elation quickly becomes apprehension.  You can quickly spiral and decline into full on angst!

What am I going to eat?

How will I know the food is safe if we go out to eat?

What if I get an upset tummy?

This was my daughter last week.  She was thrilled to be asked, and so scared at the same time.  

But, we have been dealing with Fructose Malabsorption for 7 years.  We have tackled preschool picnics, 1st grade Valentine's parties, hockey banquets, sleepovers and school carnivals.  2 nights away at a cabin-no big deal-we got this!!!  

We packed glucose tablets, shopped for safe snacks, and decided we would make a special treat that we know is safe and low in sugar.  We decided to make puppy chow AKA muddy buddies.  Every kid loves puppy chow and the more I thought about it the more I realized it would make a great recipe for my latest sugar experiment (see below). 

Recently I have been experimenting with reducing the sugar in every recipe by 1/2.  Here is an excerpt from my very scientific study and resulting blog: 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!

So why not try this hypothesis with puppy chow?  I knew I could reduce the sugar in the chocolate chips by purchasing extra dark chocolate chips.  My local co-up sells real peanut butter without sugar-that's a win!  And, why do puppy chow recipes call for 1.5 cups powdered sugar?  That's a gut bomb waiting to happen.  Basically,  you just need the powdered sugar to coat the cereal squares.  We reduced the powdered sugar to 1/2 cup.

Basic Puppy Chow Recipe:

In a large bowl microwave 1 cup dark chocolate chips on low in small increments until chips are melted.

Add 1/2 cup no sugar peanut butter and stir.

Stir in 9 cups Corn Chex.

Add this mixture to a large ziploc bag, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, seal the bag and shake it.

Long story, short...not really....I like to give you all of the details.  The puppy chow was a success!!!  No one noticed the lack of sugar, in fact they devoured it.  

 

***Next time I am going to try straight up unsweetened dark baking chocolate-a great suggestion by my good friend who is a dietitian.  This would reduce the sugar amount even more!

On a whim today I decided to prep 7 of our family's favorite marinades.  I typically don't think this far in advance.  However, life is very busy right now at our house and I was thinking it would be kind of wonderful if I had the basics of 7 meals ready to go.  I had all of the ingredients in my fridge or pantry except for a lime.  I already needed to go to the grocery store today.  Let's be honest I find myself at the grocery stores most days.  Anyway, it only took me 30 minutes to prepare my 7 chosen marinades.  How awesome is that?  This list includes Asian, Southwestern and Mediterranean cuisines.  You can use most of the marinades with your favorite protein choice:  steak, chicken, fish, pork, turkey tenderloins, and kabobs.  All of the recipes work for 2 pounds of protein.  

Let's start off with the easiest one:

1.  Here Lemon Garlic Basil Dressing:  

  • pour 1/2 cup of my absolute most favorite dressing in a ziploc bag
  • add 2 pounds of protein and cool it for at least 2 hours in your fridge
  • bake it or grill it, it is simply delicious and super easy
  • my son says, "it makes the best chicken right Here in my kitchen"

 

2.  Disappearing Pork:  

I typically make this recipe with 2 pork tenderloins.  You can also use chicken, turkey tenderloins or your favorite fish.

Marinade Recipe:

Add protein source to a ziploc bag with marinade.  Allow it to cool in your fridge for at least two hours.

  • 2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vingear
  • 2 pinches of dried cloves
  • 2 dashes of hot pepper sauce 

Rub Recipe:

Once the protein has marinated, add the rub and grill it.

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic

Tips:

  1. Instead of Worcestershire sauce in this recipe I use a combination of soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and Sky Valley Sriracha sauce.
  2. Some patients living with Fructose Malabsorption find that garlic infused olive oil works better for them compared to garlic and regular olive oil.

 

3.  Mouthwatering Marinade:

This marinade pairs well with chicken and pork.  I like to serve it with steamed broccoli and steamed rice.  I can put a quick, easy and healthy meal on the table in 30 minutes.

Marinade Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup garlic infused olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Tips:

  1. Make this marinade in the morning before you go to work and allow it to work it's magic during the day.
  2. When we are short on time we use Grain Trust Steamed Rice.  We cook a lot of rice in our rice cooker, but I always keep Grain Trust Steamed White Rice in my freezer for times when I need rice in 3 minutes straight from my microwave.  Grain Trust, "grains are always:  ethically sourced from farmers who earn living wages, organic, naturally gluten-free, and grown without the use of GMO's."

 

4.  Emerald Stir Fry:

This is Jack and Grace's favorite stir fry recipe.  I posted a link to it in our recipe section.  It is inspired by Ellie Krieger.  The orange juice and the ground red pepper give it a sweet, but spicy kick.

 

 

5.  Southwestern Rub Recipe:

We use this recipe a lot in our family because we adore all foods Southwestern inspired.  I use this recipe on chicken, pork, flank steak and fish.  Combine it with cilantro lime rice and your favorite Southwestern fixings and you have a quick, easy and healthy dinner that is kid approved. 

 

 

6.  Southwestern Fish Marinade:

This recipe works well with tilapia.  After you marinate the fish simply pan fry it for a few minutes per side and you will have the most delectable fish tacos.

Marinade Recipe:

  • 4 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

 

 

7.  Smoky and Sweet Marinade:

The coriander in this recipe gives it a nice smoky flavor.  The brown sugar caramelizes when it is grilled and adds the perfect amount of sweetness.  This is a crowd favorite.

Marinade Recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon coriander

Published in Quick, Easy, Healthy
Thursday, 07 February 2019 01:04

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.  

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 

 

Published in FBF Blog

How to read a food label, or more importantly how to avoid highly processed man-products that are high in fructose:

I get it.  You are frustrated.  You are living with Fructose Malabsorption and you don’t know what to eat.  You don’t know what is safe.  You wander the isles at your local grocery store looking at labels after labels frustrated because you can not even pronounce most of the ingredients.  Trust me, I have been there.  When I was first diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption the grocery store made me incredibly anxious.  I knew I was supposed to avoid high fructose corn syrup and other obvious ingredients like honey and molasses; but I had no idea that so many other hidden, potentially gut bomb ingredients were out there.  I was at a total loss; to scared to purchase any mass produced food product.  At first, due to my food fears, I would only eat whole foods:  foods without a label.  But, after time I started to educate myself and realized that there were a lot of companies who were committed to using real whole food; and in fact there were a fair amount of products that I could eat.  I am ten years into my diagnosis, and have replaced my anxiety and food fears with knowledge.  I now know what is safe, what to avoid, and what questions to ask myself everytime I look at a food label.


I ask myself these questions when grocery shopping:


-Is this ingredient made in a factory or does it come from the Earth?


-Can I pronounce this ingredient?


-Can I create a mental picture of this ingredient?


For example:  I know that acesulfame potassium does not come from the Earth; nor can I pronounce it.  Also, I have no idea what acesulfame potassium looks like in its natural state.  Therefore, why would I want to eat it?  My body was made to digest real whole food, not man-made highly processed products like acesulfame potassium.


When I ask myself these questions I always come to the safest conclusion.  If it doesn’t come from the Earth; if I can’t pronounce it; and if I can’t picture what the product looks like in its natural state then I know I shouldn’t eat it.

 

Check out this food label:

 

When you first look at this label you might think this product is safe for me and you, and it is gut friendly.  High fructose corn syrup is never listed in the ingredients.  But, if you look closer and ask yourself the above mentioned simple questions you will realize that this product is a gut bomb, not safe.  “Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Date Paste, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, and Organic Tapioca Syrup” are all man-made highly processed products that potentially contain high levels of fructose and should totally be avoided.  Don’t be misled by the word “organic”.  “Organic” does not equal safe and does not equal healthy.  This product and other products like this should be avoided.


So what should you eat?  What products are safe?  Check out the Spotlight section of my blog.  I have highlighted many safe products.

 

It is important to keep a daily food journal when you are diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption.  It will help you determine what foods are safe for you.  Each of us has a unique gut voice and we need to learn to listen to it.  Link here for an example of a Fructose Malabsorption Daily Food Journal.

 

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. 

 

 

Published in FBF Blog
Friday, 01 February 2019 22:53

Daily Fructose Malabsorption Journal

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 FBF Blog

The Top 15 Lessons I Have Learned From Starting A Blog About Fructose Malabsorption:

 

 

 In August of 2017 my daughter and I visited a local bakery to pick up a piece of cake.  This cake and bakery are well known in the Minneapolis area.  It truly is divine, delectable and downright sinfully good.  Our plan was to share the piece of cake and watch the movie "Titanic".  My daughter had been begging me to watch the movie all summer.  I kept putting off her request because who watches a movie in the middle of August in Minnesota?  August is fantastic in Minnesota.  Most of us spend our days outside boating, swimming, hiking, golfing, playing tennis, picnicking..you get the picture. August is all about enjoying the glorious weather before the winter hits and we are back to hibernating.  My son was off at overnight camp, my husband was playing golf and I decided to embrace her movie request.  It finally occurred to me that, yes, my daughter was asking to spend 3 hours with me watching a ship sink.  I didn't just need to watch this movie with her; I was lucky she asked me.  

Anyway, back to the cake.  As usual I always ask for the ingredient list in a bakery item when I order it.  Even if I have ordered this same item 1000 times before I always ask.  Trust me, both my daughter and I know what a fructose volcano feels like and don't want to make that mistake again.  The bakery assistant gave me one of those looks when I asked for the ingredient list, "it's one of those ladies, can't she just order the cake and move on."  I held my chin up high and didn't let her annoyance annoy me.  We diligently waited for her to return from the kitchen and hand us the ingredient list assuming it would contain the same ingredients we use at home to bake a cake:  flour, eggs, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, butter.  This time I was completely shocked when she handed me the list.  HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP was the second ingredient listed!  Yes, HFCS!  How could our favorite bakery cheat on us?  We felt betrayed.  Needless to say we did not purchase the cake and have not returned.  

Even though both of us were somewhat heartbroken we decided not to mourn the loss of the cake.  We chose to take on the challenge and bake an even better cake.  Flash forward four hours later, both us were crying as Jack couldn't fit on the rather large piece of floating door, lamenting the fact that Rose would be all alone, and devouring our cake.  To be honest, it wasn't as pretty as the bakery's, but it was delicious and totally safe.  As I was tucking Grace in that evening I said out loud for the first time, "wouldn't it be fun if we had a website all about Fructose Malabsorption?"

These are some of the most famous last words in our house.  Somewhat of an, "oh no, she didn't really say that out loud did she? "  Just so we are clear when I say something out loud that typically means it is going to happen and it is most likely something I have been considering for sometime.  When I say it out loud it basically means I have already created a google doc on the how, why, when and where of my new idea.  

My family was shocked when I told them about my idea.  I am the least likely person to start a website because my tech skills are not savvy, they are almost nonexistent.  For example, today I could not figure out how to turn the flashlight on on my phone.  I usually solve my technological misgivings by texting my kids.  They are the resident "Best Buy Geek Squad" at our house.  Typically, they make fun of my lack of tech prowess.  I constantly need to remind them that I didn't have email in college or a cellphone until after the birth of our first born.  Yes, I used to live in the dark ages.

Why did I speak those words out loud?  Because, I felt called to do it for my daughter.  It is really hard to live with Fructose Malabsorption, especially when you are a little kid.  I wanted to find a way for her to own her food intolerance and share her frustrations and discoveries.  I, too, needed an outlet.  Somedays I don't want to have Fructose Malabsorption.  I just want to wake up and go to that local bakery and gorge myself on a piece of cake.  But, I can't.  

This idea kept gnawing at me, finding ways into my dreams and filling up all of my thoughts.  Honestly, I was super scared to take on this challenge.  But, I kept coming back to images of my daughter not eating at school and social events, sitting in the corner feeling like she was different.  I needed to do this for Grace.  I wanted her to see that I am willing to do things I am scared to do.  If I can tackle the technical/website component of this adventure than maybe Grace can start tackling her fears and frustrations. The more I thought about it the more I wanted the challenge...I kept thinking you don't grow in life unless you try new things.  

On March 1st Families Balancing Fructose will celebrate our one year anniversary.  In the last year I have learned how to back end edit a website, upload pictures, analyze google data and navigate social media.  Almost one year in I feel like a tech genius!  One year ago I didn't even know how to create an embedded link in a document.  And, now my kids even ask me tech questions!

As I reflect on the last year I realize there are so many lessons learned beyond website editing.  I have learned so much about my gut, other people's guts, my daughter's determination and grit, and how to embrace Fructose Malabsorption and celebrate it

 

Lesson 1.  Everyone has a unique gut and unique gut voice.  Our individual gut is like a second set of fingerprints.  We need to find this voice and listen to it.  We can 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. Fructose Malabsorption makes us intuitive eaters.

 

Lesson 2.  All sorbitol including natural occurring sorbitol in stone fruits is a definite no for my gut and my whole body.  I try to eat a very diverse diet, but choose to avoid sorbitol at all costs.  On the flip side gluten and other foods on the FODMAP list work for me.  I can eat small amounts of garlic and onions.  A few times a month I enjoy green beans.  Back to lesson #1, each of us has a unique gut.  We all react differently to FODMAP foods and need to use this protocol they way it was created.  The FODMAP program was created to help us determine are gut fingerprints.  It wasn't created as a safe diet for all of us. If you want to learn more about FODMAPS take a closer look at my blog.

 

Lesson 3.  Protein is so good for my body.  Eating protein sources with essential amino acids 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.  This discovery has caused me to change my breakfast options.  Occasionally I add sausage links or whole milk cottage cheese to the breakfast rotation.  This discovery has also changed the lunches I pack for my daughter at school. Grace and I wrote a blog about school lunches and it includes 6 lunches that are low in fructose, kid friendly and easy to make.

 

Lesson 4.  Eating a diverse diet is good for me and my body.  The more I try to eat in moderation, not eliminate a lot of foods, and balance my daily fructose intake the happier my gut feels.  My gut is not happy when I limit my diet to only a few items.  My gut flora is diverse and craves a diverse diet.  In one of my earliest blog articles, Cliff Notes® on Sugar Digestion, I begin to explore this topic.

 

Lesson 5.  Most days I eat the same thing for lunch.  I am very utilitarian when it comes to my midday meal.  I don't want to think about Fructose Malabsorption and the fructose content in food.  When you have Fructose Malabsorption eating can become a pain in the you know what!  You constantly have to research and plan and think and prepare what you are going to eat. However, let's look at lesson 4.  I need to switch up my daily lunch routine.  Over the last year I have added new protein sources, a different collection of vegetables and have created many new salad recipes and simple vinaigrettes.  

 

Lesson 6.  My new Facebook Fructose Malabsorption friends have taught me a lot about gluten and glyphosate, and why organic flour can be different especially if it comes from a European country.  My grocery purchases have considerably changed due to these lessons.  I am now purchasing imported pasta and have decided it's ok to give your child white bread

 

Lesson 7.  My brother had an unfortunate agave incident this summer.  Much to his dismay we learned a lot about the agave plant.

 

Lesson 8.  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 in on a salad.

 

Lesson 9.  Are you like me?  Do you feel like the words "COCONUT SUGAR" are everywhere?  In your Facebook and Instragram feeds?  At your favorite restaurants and bakeries? What's the deal with coconut sugar?  Can we believe all of the health claims about coconut sugar?  Is it a healthier option compared to table sugar?

 

Lesson 10.  Over the last year Grace has finally owned her Fructose Malabsorption and wants to write about it. Grace's first article details how to navigate social outings when you have a food intolerance.

 

Lesson 11. In addition to Facebook I have connected with a lot of fellow FM patients around the world.  They have given me a lot of great advice, including new ways to explain Fructose Malabsorption to your friend, neighbor, relative and restaurant waiter.

 

Lesson 12.  Recently I’ve been revisiting old cookbooks that have been collecting dust on my shelves.  I found the Strawberry Shortcake cookbook my grandmother gave me in 1980 when I was four years old.  What I love most about this cookbook is that it encourages kids to get in the kitchen, make a mess, and start experimenting with flavors. There aren't any complicated directions that need to be followed.  Truly, the whole goal is to engage kids in new and unusual smells, textures, tastes and sights; and to be proud of something they created with their own two hands.  I also own my mom's Joy of Cooking cookbook that was published in 1964.  You will not find any glossy pictures in this book, just simple recipes and tips on how to cook fresh in season food.  This last year I have made a lot of recipes from these two cookbooks and highlight them on our website.

 

Lesson 13.  Last fall my cousin, Cari, a millennial, told me about a conversation she was having with her friend about fructose and my rotisserie chicken blog.  Cari was shocked to find out that rotisserie chicken necessarily wasn’t a safe food and that a multitude of mass produced additives could be hiding in chicken.  Honestly, I was shocked, too. I had no idea Cari and her friends cared about their food choices as much as I do. Cari doesn’t have a food intolerance; and is a healthy 26 year old who loves trying new workout classes, going out to dinner with her friends and exploring Minneapolis.  Why does Cari care so much?  Do other millennials like her make food choices based on similar convictions?  The answer is, YES.  According to the Washington Post, “millennials are the largest U.S. age demographic, and as such they are key tastemakers.” Millennials are savvy eaters.  They demand transparency on food labels. They want to know where their food is sourced and do not want any hidden ingredients.  These are my kind of people.  I, too, demand transparency. I want to know exactly where my food comes from, what is hiding in it and how my health could be negatively or positively impacted by my food choices. The millennial population knows 6 truths about fructose that we all need to know.

 

Lesson 14.  Over the last year I have developed a list of questions you should ask yourself when you look at any food label.

 

Lesson 15.  I have also learned this year that it is really hard to take a good picture of food.  If you live in the Minneapolis area and want to be my photography intern contact me.  I am in need of help. I actually wrote a blog about my photography issues.

Published in FBF Blog
Thursday, 27 December 2018 19:02

Minnesota: Home of 11,842 Lakes and the Hot Dish

Families Balancing Fructose Blog Article from January 2018:

I am sitting here, wearing my coat indoors, the coat that looks like I am walking around wearing a sleeping bag, and counting down the days until our annual trip to Florida.  This year in Minneapolis we have suffered through one of the longest stretches of seriously cold weather that I can remember. On New Year’s Eve the high was -16. Yes, 48 degrees below freezing.  Crazy? Yes, crazy!

Sometimes I can’t believe we can survive these temperatures.  However, Minnesotans are hardy. We embrace the freezing temperatures.  I wonder if it has something to do with our Scandinavian/Viking heritage?  

When the mercury starts dropping we haul out our winter coats that are truly meant for expeditions to the North Pole and live as if it is a balmy 50 degrees. In fact, our sense of cold starts to change.  This Saturday our local weather forecaster has predicted 15 degrees above zero. This actually truly excites me. At 15 degrees I can walk outside; and my kids will play hockey on our backyard rink and will not wear jackets because they will be hot. Yes, we are crazy.

In Minnesota we celebrate our seasons:  from freezing temperatures in January to 85 degrees and 85% humidity in August.  We Minnesotans easily transition from water skiing in the summer on one of 11, 842 lakes to ice fishing in the winter.  Yes, I did type ice fishing.  Minnesotans love to put on 15 layers, hike to the middle of a frozen lake, drill a hole 15 inches down through the ice into open water, and spend the day freezing their you know what waiting for a hibernating fish to take a bite.  If you don't believe me look at the Explore Minnesota website.  Somehow the Minnesota tourism board makes ice fishing look magical and a must for all travelers to Minnesota during the harsh winter months.

Not only do our activities change but our menus change.  In the summer it’s all about the grill and in the winter it’s all about the hot dish.  Yes, the hot dish like the one featured in the movie Fargo. We Minnesotans love a hot dish: a delicious melody of multiple flavors that truly warms your soul on a cold winter’s day.

Our friends recently traveled to Roseau, Minnesota for a hockey tournament.  Roseau is a very small town located 18 miles from the Canadian border. Every weekend Roseau hosts a hockey tournament.  Hockey is Roseau and Roseau is hockey. 8 NHL players have come out of this small town with a population of just over 2000.  

Our friends were not looking forward to the 6 hour drive north, nor the freezing cold temperatures; but, like any Minnesotan they embraced it-the freezing cold temperatures, the long drive and the hot dish.

Roseau residents are known for their hospitality. At one of the local rinks they stock a fridge with beer for the parents to enjoy during the period breaks and after the game they host a hot dish supper-in fact a tater tot hot dish supper.  My friends devoured the hot dish, sung it’s praises and came home loving Roseau and loving it’s residents.

This got me thinking.  I make hot dishes for my family in the winter, but why don’t I serve a hot dish when we entertain?  It might have something to do with the movie Fargo, or the fact that you have never seen a hot dish featured on the cover of Epicurious magazine.  But, why not? Hot dishes can be healthy, and they can be funky, filled with an unusual collaboration of flavors.

And, the best part is they are so much better if they are prepared in advance, given time to cool in your fridge and then reheated later.  The hot dish is actually the perfect food to serve when you entertaining. Your kitchen is clean when your company arrives, you can enjoy time with your guests sipping a cocktail and eating appetizers; and the clean-up is so easy---only one pan.  (I have posted a lot of articles about the one pan/pot/dish meal and it's clean-up ease.  Check out: Beef Stew, Italian Salmon Rice and Vegetables, and Crockpot Chicken and Vegetable Stew).

This year we hosted New Year’s Eve and I decided to make it Roseau themed.  I made one of my family’s favorite hot dishes, didn’t worry about impressing my company with a fancy meal, and actually truly enjoyed the evening.  

 

Roseau Hotdish:

Ingredients:

-2 pounds ground beef

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1 chopped yellow onion

-3 minced garlic cloves

-1 cup chopped celery

-1 cup chopped carrots

-1 8 oz packaged chopped mushrooms

-1 cup red wine

-6 oz tomato paste

-1 14.5 oz can diced Italian tomatoes

-2 teaspoons salt

-½ teaspoon pepper

-1 teaspoon dried oregano

-1 teaspoon dried basil

-8 oz pasta shells, cooked according to package directions

-⅓ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

-¼ cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

  1. Brown the beef in a large skillet over medium heat with olive oil.  Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  
  2. Add the mushrooms, wine, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and basil.  Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat and cook on low for 10 more minutes.
  3. Combine cooked pasta and skillet items in a casserole dish.  Top with shredded cheese.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees covered for 30 minutes.

 

Tips:

  1. I use Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes.  The tomatoes are certified organic; are non-GMO; come in a BPA free lined can; and I like Muir Glen’s commitment to pollinators
  2. I think any red wine works with this recipe.  I tend to drink Malbecs and Zinfandels which are a little more earthy.
  3. I typically make this casserole the night before I am going to serve it and then keep it cool in the refrigerator.  It then needs to be cooked at 350 degrees for one hour.
  4. This recipe could be a great challenge recipe if you are in the process of challenging FODMAPS in your diet.  For more information on FODMAPS link to: FODMAPS, A Closer Look.



Cheers to our Roseau New Year's Celebration 2017:

Published in FBF Blog
Thursday, 29 November 2018 21:53

Wild Harvest®

Nine months ago I started to notice new products at our grocery store all with the same name, Wild Harvest®.  

At first I incorrectly assumed they were products we couldn't eat.  Products that claim to be healthy, but once you turn the product around and read the label you realize they are actually very unhealthy.  Unhealthy, because the ingredient list is a mile long and contains "food" I can not even pronounce.  My assumption about Wild Harvest® was completely that: a false assumption.  I was totally wrong.

After reading the product's labels I jumped up and down with joy!!!  I can not tell you how much time I have spent wandering the isles of multiple grocery shore chains and co-ops looking for food product companies that actually follow through with their health claims.   

Wild Harvest® is not a mirage!  It does exist!  Finally, I discovered a food product and produce company that demands transparency just as much as I do.  A food product company that is committed to sourcing food and ingredients that come from the Earth and are minimally processed.

Wild Harvest® is a collection of over 600 products, 65% of which are organic, and many are gluten free.  

Even better all Wild Harvest® products are "free from" 140 undesirable ingredients.  Included on this "free from" list are many things I can not pronounce so; therefore, should not eat.  It includes items like acetylated ester of diglycerides, high-fructose corn syrup and hydroxypropyl guar Guam.  All man-made food products I definitely do not want to find in my food!  

Thank you Wild Harvest® for taking the guess work out of grocery shopping.  

Thank you Wild Harvest® for your transparency.

I can totally stand behind Wild Harvest® and their pledge:

 "At Wild Harvest®, we celebrate all that is free from and organic.  We are committed to helping you live a life free from all that is undesirable by making some of the best tasting and most affordable free from and organic products found anywhere.  We promise that you will find unbeatable value in all of our products.  You'll love it.  We guarantee it!"  

Our favorite products are the peanut butter, frozen cranberries, frozen organic berry blend, chicken broth, organic apple cider vinegar, organic Thai jasmine rice, organic flax seed, organic wheat squares and fresh produce.  Basically, I LOVE this whole product line!

You can use Wild Harvest's® store locator to find products at your local grocery store.

Wild Harvest® also features great recipes that use their products.  We recently made the Berry Cinnamon Quick Bread.  My family loved it!

 

Families Balancing Fructose Recipes with Wild Harvest® products:

I use Wild Harvest® brown sugar when making Jack and Grace's favorite cookies.

One of our favorite quick, easy and healthy dinner is Lettuce Wraps.  I can prepare and serve a nutritious meal in 30 minutes that my whole family loves. 

Another one of our "go to" family dinners is Chicken and Rice Mediterranean Vegetable Rice Bowls.  I use Wild Harvest® Thai Jasmine Rice.

 

Published in FBF Blog
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

When I was diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption 10 + plus years ago my dietitian gave me a list of safe and unsafe real foods; another list of food products and additives (including high fructose corn syrup) that were high in man-made fructose; and an understanding of how fructose and other sugars traveled around and were digested in my body.  Within weeks of changing my diet I started to feel like a new person, actually more like the person I was in my 20's when our food sources weren't so complicated.

It never occurred to me that my entire body would change, not just my gut. Finally I had an answer to why I was feeling so awful.  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!

It was like my whole body had been under attack, not just my gut.  Fructose Malabsorption had wreaked havoc on my entire body.

For the first 4 years after my diagnosis I was living a healthy life.  I continued to follow my dietitian's advice and had learned how to balance my daily sugar intake.  Yes, I still had accidental fructose overdoses.  But, they didn't happen as often and they weren't as severe.  I assumed that everyone living with Fructose Malabsorption felt like I did after getting diagnosed.  They felt lucky, they celebrated, they had an answer for why they were feeling so lucky, and they had a diet plan.  Wow, I was so wrong!  

When my daughter, Grace, was diagnosed 6 years ago many of my assumptions about Fructose Malabsorption went out the window.  My assumption that my diet would work for Grace was wrong!  My assumption that she could eat the same foods that I could was wrong!  And, the assumption that the foods I couldn't eat wouldn't be healthy for Grace was wrong!  I was actually extremely frustrated.  Why wasn't my diet working for Grace?  Why was she still having tummy issues?  I felt like a terrible mother.  I couldn't take her tummy pain away.

After a lot of trial and error and some soul searching I talked to a dietitian and learned a huge lesson:  everyone's gut is unique and each person has a different gut voice.  What works for me, doesn't necessarily work for Grace and may not work for you either.  I felt like I was back at square one.  How was I going to teach a 6 year old to find her gut voice and then teach me how to care for it.  

Grace and I struggled for six months.  We kept a food journal and a symptoms journal and sometimes wanted to throw both journals in the trash when we couldn't determine what was working and what wasn't working.  It was like Grace's gut was a giant scientific experiment that had a 6 year old temper.  But, a few months into our journaling we started to see more symptom free days.  Grace started to thrive not just survive.  She was a happy kindergartner having playdates, playing hockey and spending time with her brother.  

Flash forward 5 years later to March 2018.  Grace and I decided to start a website/blog about Fructose Malabsorption.  We were looking to connect with other people like us, people living on this Fructose Malabsorption roller coaster.  We wanted to learn from others and I wanted to empower Grace to share what she had learned about her gut and Fructose Malabsorption.  

In the last 7 months we have connected with 1000's of people living with Fructose Malabsorption and have learned many lessons.  The biggest lesson is the same as the one I learned when Grace was diagnosed:  everyone's gut is unique and each person has a different gut voice.  We all have to find what works best for our gut and learn to listen our gut voice.  

 

Through this journey I have also learned that we, Fructose Malabsorption patients, also have things in common.

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!  

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.  "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." (Helen Keller).  Thank you for teaching me, supporting me and supporting my daughter.  We are healthier because of you!

 

More Blog Articles By Families Balancing Fructose:

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

Published in FBF Blog
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