Low FODMAPs You Say?

Image from MonashFodmap.com

(How on earth does this relate to creativity???? Read on!)

Today, I am on day 2 of reintroduction to onions with 1/4 of an onion. Who knows what torture may be in my near immediate future, but this ‘diet’ has been such a game changer in my life. This isn’t a FAD diet nor is it one to try for ‘losing’ weight purposes. This scientific diet might just be the answer to people who struggle with IBS or IBS-like symptoms. I had zero clue that my symptoms were related to IBS. I have an immune deficiency, not Celiac Disease and no allergies to food so why all the bloating and what I now know as IBS(D). My IGA levels are always near the bottom which somewhat explained that there may be a link to what I thought was a gluten intolerance. So, many blood tests later, my gastroenterologist suggested I use the low-FODMAP diet to see if it helped.

The scientists at Monash University in Australia have discovered this gut connection which you can read about here >>>> https://www.monashfodmap.com/.

He recommended a cookbook and gave me some printed materials and scheduled my follow up appointment for the end of January (3 months later.) I went home, sat at my kitchen table and perused the printouts with the list of no’s: garlic, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, bread, green peppers… the list seemed endless and included so many of my favorite foods. Did I ever mention I AM ITALIAN?! I live and breath garlic, onion, bell peppers, and bread! I’ve already gotten through the bread issue since I thought gluten was the largest culprit but the veggies that I ‘should not’ eat were a total shock to me! The other issue was that this diet does not take out complete food groups so it was/is confusing! I nearly cried! I love a good portabella mushroom anything!

As a runner, I abstained from many glutenous foods because it really helped me feel better during a recovery period and would use carbohydrates as a quick fuel for long runs or races that were longer than 6 miles. For half marathon races, I enjoyed every minute of a pasta dish or a pizza/calzone type meal the night before. During regular running or exercise, I mostly ate a variety of vegetables and meats and would still have a bloating reaction and unknowingly would be hard on myself for not reading ingredient lists well enough or blaming a type of oil or product that had hidden gluten and thought it was to blame. I had a hard time not beating myself up about what passed through my lips in my quest to stay healthy. The ‘diet’ became this ugly four-lettered word instead of this meaningful definition of how I was nourishing myself.

Fast forward a couple of years after repeating bouts of respiratory infection after infection and doctors just wanting to pass it off as allergies and treating me symptomatically, I began to dig deeper. I am not a fan of taking medications if I can avoid it. I tried so many things! I took out gluten for about a year and a half, with lots of good results but not resolving all the issues. I have been through allergy testing multiple times, but the latest doctor I saw listened to ALL my craziness and saw that I was just being repeatedly given steroids and antibiotics and antihistamines. All those ‘allergies’? 4. I am actually only allergic to 4 things; 2 of which are molds, plus cats, and dust mites.

What was discovered in this process of 22 vials of blood tests for allergy determination is that I actually have an immune disorder and not a gazillion allergies. I have Common Variable Immunodeficiency aka CVID. Basically, my immune system doesn’t work properly. Due to my low IGA, which has connections to GI issues, I began testing to rule out various other issues. This is where I landed in the office of a gastroenterologist who looked at my upper digestive tract and reviewed my previous lower digestive tract images. Definitely not celiac but I do have a hiatal hernia and had some damage from ibuprofen type medicines and some gastroenteritis.

Low FODMAP it is. After the initial shock, I found the Monash app and a Spoonful app that helps in determining the level of FODMAPs in a food that is prepackaged or in the ingredients list. After about 2 weeks, my bowel movements had completely changed. I though my movements were the way they were because of all the fiber I consumed through my veggie laden diet. Nope. I still eat a variety of veggies but now I can say I am quite back to normal in the bathroom department.

Which brings us back to the question…”How on earth does this relate to a blog about CREATIVITY?!!!” Well, now that I am not bloated all the time, depriving myself of delicious foods I love, and having hurried and multiple rushes to the restroom, I am able to be more creative and get more done that I choose to get done! It hasn’t been fun completing the trial period, but it has been quite enlightening! I am now in the reintroduction phase to determine just what triggers my system in not-so-nice ways so I can add back in more of the ingredients I love. I know that lactose is a problem for me. Now…I eat lactose free vanilla ice cream with low FODMAP ingredients like walnuts, tiny amounts of dark chocolate and blueberries or raspberries for toppings. I enjoy lactose free milk in my coffee with maple syrup or organic sugar. I love a hot cup of tea without honey because there are other ways to enjoy it that don’t cause discomfort.

So, at my workspace, my tea cup is as full as my heart. Part of creating is the delight in the moment: a hot beverage I enjoy on cold days or nights along with a book in audio form or a good movie or TV series on in the background. It’s the act of cutting apart fabric or paper to put it back together in a new way. It’s the process of making something that brings a smile to the faces of others.

I am grateful for the doctors who listen. I am grateful to the doctors who consult on my situation so I receive the best care. I am grateful to those who have a passion for medical questions and solving complicated things so I can, in turn, enjoy my passion. Never be afraid to seek out a second opinion; especially if you don’t feel heard. And above all, be creative in whatever way makes you feel whole.