My Slow Road to FODMAP

An extension to my 100 Days of Happiness is making myself feel physically better somehow.

TLDR; Some ideas for edible FODMAP foods at the end.

One of the things talked about a lot on the EDS circles is diet and how this might affect us. With Ehlers-Danlos Type III there tends to be a significant link with gastric issues similar to IBS. As with most things EDS related, there’s little firm evidence pointing to why this is, but some research suggests that the faulty collagen that makes our connective tissues in our joints stretch will have a similar affect on our internal organs. Now which of these organs tends to get stretched about on a daily basis? Yep, your gut. The medics call them ‘floppy bowels’ or ‘droopy bowels’ which is just a bit unpleasant.

***Warning! TMI ALERT!!!***
For me, this means a constant and now increasing reaction to eating solid food (strangely, meal replacement shakes don’t have such an impact on my stomach ). After each meal, there’s the bloating where my intestines feel like they’ve been blown up like a balloon and feel tender. Then there’s either diarrhea or days of constipation which  once relieved brings forth a bout of diarrhea which it was holding back like a dam. In all, not comfortable,  not the greatest way to maintain a healthy gut, and not something which creates a healthy relationship with food (especially since I’ve been a comfort eater since…. birth?).

I was never going to cope with wholesale change of my diet in a big bang way despite the promises of wellness that those promoting FODMAP. The first time I read through the exclusion list I wasn’t sure I’d ever get there as it appeared that I was only now able to eat bowls of sadness and platefuls of dissapointment. Instead I’ve changed to a sliding exclusion diet where I remove things bit by bit.

Before I even started trying to exclude food types, I’d been using protein shakes to replace 2 out of 3 meals as solid food kept getting stuck or just making me feel sick. It was just a way of maintaining some calories. Since then I’ve moved to proper meal replacement shakes (slimfast) as they also contain vitamins, fewer sugars and are less gloopy. That one meal is appreciated even though it makes me feel terrible after. I’ve also added bacon crispies to evening snacks (These are very British and are the non-branded version of Frazzles ) which I suck slowly for the taste and also the extra sat for POTS.

Eating was an issue that I brought up (ha!) with my GP back in August and aside from a brief panic in October, followed by sage advice that it was just the medication,  no one seems particularly fazed by my weird reverse weaning. I’ve put it down to my current weight, which is still well within normal  BMI, mainly because it wasn’t normal before getting ill. I currently weigh 79.8kg (176lbs) which makes me a size 14 (US 16). At the start of September I was 93kg (205lbs) and a size 16-18 (US 18-20).

Using pure BMI data, I’ve gone from this:

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To this:

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Now I’m very aware that I needed to shed a few pounds in September and that this is probably why it’s only Mr Geek that’s making worried noises about me shrinking (thanks to the stomach drugs, boobs are mostly unaffected!). I was at my high end of comfortably heavy at which point I tended to cut out the biscuits and cake and move around more which would land me back at my regular weight of about 85kg (187lb). That is my comfortable weight where my body looks healthy and my joints aren’t overloaded. The big difference is that I’m not watching my weight, I’m just in a place where food causes me pain and whilst the loss has slowed, I’m now nearly 14kg (31lbs) down which is beginning to show. Instead of me looking great in my healthy BMI range, I start to look gaunt & important inny outy bits just look flat (I’m not a lover of BMI as it is & if I had the spoons would point you to the studies which prove it’s a load of tosh). And most importantly,  despite the weight loss I don’t feel well inside.

So as a positive move to make things internally less sore and swollen and prone to rejecting anything that doesn’t taste of dissapointment,  I’m on my road to FODMAP. I’ve started with gluten as carbs are my mental crutches. I’ve found gluten free alternatives and have started using them in my snacks and evening meal. I’m not fussed about the weight loss as much as not feeling sick all the time.

Asda’s Free From spaghetti  (£1.35) or in fact any pasta uses corn flour and aside from being a bit on the yellow side had the taste and texture of normal pasta. I even got TinyPants to try mine and hers in the same meal and tell me which one was “mummy’s weird food” and she couldn’t! Coming from the child who is the culinary equivalent of the Princess and the Pea that’s impressive.

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Next up is snack heaven. Schär Gluten free salted pretzels are awesome if you’re trying to increase your salt to help POTS, or just if you want to eat something that tastes of normal. A packet of these is 75g which on an average day I could probably munch my way through over the course of a day. They’re about £1 for a bag and utterly worth it.

If you want to be really bad – dip them in Nutella. Sure fire way to make yourself feel sick.

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Another one from Schär which isn’t totally FODMAP friendly, but is at least gluten free are their chocolate fingers. It’s got milk and soya in it, but they’re at a minimum as the chocolate is quite dark.

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They taste like how you would describe a chocolate finger, and whilst they’re not unpleasant, they’re not Cadburys. They remind me of German Christmas biscuits.

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Next up bread. And it’s Schär again! (Honestly, I’m not being paid. It just seems that they make edible food ).
During the week I was late home and suddenly had a hankering for a burger. We weren’t going to waste an opportunity for me to actually want to eat something so Mr Geek went out to Uncle Sam’s (it’s like Wendy’s ) and transferred my no onion, no tomato burger & bacon into 2 of these as they’re a bit on the small side.

They have the taste and texture of real brown rye bread, and much like rye, they were instantly filling and I was stuffed after 5 bites. The point is though that I enjoyed every one of those 5 bites and hardly paid for it at all afterwards. 🙂

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Finally, one that Mr Geek arrived home with today which is entirely FODMAP friendly and aaaaaand is actual cake! Belgian Chocolate Tiffin from Lazy Day foods is gluten, dairy, egg & other stuff free. I’m reasonably sure they created this stuff by witchcraft as it tastes a bit like a raisin chocolate club biscuit  (my total favourite).

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I’ve definitely found some real foods that are helping me to cut out gluten and my stomach is a bit improved. But we’re not there yet.
Once I’m in the habit with the gluten free, next up is dairy & soya. I don’t particularly eat soya anyway, but it’s the first alternative to dairy so I need to spend some time working out a suitable alternative, especially as the meal replacement shakes are all milk based.

So day 2 of 100 Days of Happiness is that there are now gluten free alternatives that taste like real food and I’m making some positive steps towards feeling a bit better within my body. That can only be good.

Looking After Myself #2 – An Adventure With A Courgette

That sounds so much ruder than it ought to! That’s at least 3 spoons right there….

A friend of mine was mercilessly mocked at the weekend for being a vegetarian who doesn’t eat a great deal of recognisable vegetables  (as in, eats pasta & cheese – sounds familiar 😉 ). That got me thinking that I ought to try out the spiralizer that I bought to make some veggie noodles.

So here is our first attempt at pad Thai!

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The noodles are remarkably easy as is a bit like a pencil sharpener for a courgette (That’s zucchini for my over the pond people) and because they’re softish, it’s 5 minutes to make a big bowl.

Basically, the appeal of this is making something quick that has veg in it and is vaguely healthy without me needing to stand for too long. And tastes good.

Essentially I bastardised this recipe from Inspiralized and had a take out menu on standby. I’m not usually one for weird fads, but the veggie noodles promised me more veg, fewer calories & the satisfaction of getting Mr Geek to eat courgettes.

Cooking took a full 3 minutes (prep about 5). I approve of this.

I prodded my food.

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It smells like Pad Thai. It even looks like Pad Thai…. and fuck me, it actually tastes like it too! The only hint that these noodles were importers were that they were slightly more fibrous and I couldn’t do my usual cut between top teeth & bottom lip. (Stupid jaw – I have a massive, but hidden over bite with my bottom teeth a full cm further back than my top teeth and a narrower jaw.)

So I now have another veg packed go to meal for feeling like crap days and it’s yum!

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This will of course be fully remedied by eating a vat of chocolate this evening whilst we continue to binge watch Community. But this isn’t a diet. It was dinner.

Taking Care of Myself

The last thing I want to do when I get home from work, especially when I’m wobbly & in pain is cook. I like baking, I’m not so keen on cooking real food.

But in true British style, this is one of my top go to dinners when the fridge looks a bit bare & I need something that isn’t takeaway. Let’s be honest, take out is more comfort than actual food.

So here it is, Bubble & Squeak : Slacker Edition

Chop & peel the potatoes the shove in a large pan of water with the veg (sprouts are key and must be included). Boil the living crap out of them until soft or the ad break in NCIS.

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When they’re done, use scissors to cut the bacon into bits and fry in a large frying pan. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and ignore the calories that you just added.

Spoon in the cooked potatoes and veg and mash with a fork until it’s mushy.
Keep frying as the bit underneath brown (These are gooooood). I used a wok, but that’s only because we don’t have a decent frying pan. I also promise that it tastes a lot better than it looks!

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If you’re feeling extravagant,  poach an egg to put on top of your bubble & squeak. (This is actually worth the effort if you can get it just runny). Mr Geek does this bit as I suck at cooking eggs. Then top it with salad cream.

Salad cream is instead of hollandaise, which is far too difficult to be arsing about with when your bones hurt. That and it tastes nice.

Cue instagram style photo with an out of focus plate in the background. ..

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Calories: unknown (best not to think about it)
Time standing: 10 minutes (15 tops)
Cooking time: 20 minutes ish
No. Of your 5 a day: nearly all of them 🙂

If I thought about it,  much of this could be pre-prepared and frozen. That would of course require organisation and a lack of emotional eating on my part.

Zey. Like Za Soop!

So this evening my dearest mother announces she has bought Sainsburys best pre packaged chicken breasts ready seasoned with unidentifiable green stuff and fatty bacon.

You may have detected that I’m not keen on packaged bung it in the oven foods. So I did what any sane person would do when presented with the prospect of processed dinner delights……. I made soup.

Cue:

An onion chopped and fried in butter
3 dinky slightly old carrots (it’s nearly shopping day) chopped up and stuffed in with the onion.
Then 500ml of water with 1 chicken and 1 veg stock cube
About 4 chopped parsnips (about because they were frozen… Could’ve been 5)
Some coriander ground and leaf and a bit of medium curry powder.

Boil. Well, simmer for however long the others decide to leave their dinner to shrivel into an overlooked abomination. (Currently standing at 40 mins)

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When it’s finished boiling, then stick it in a blender and smooooooothe it out.

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Nom.

Slow cooking my life

So it turns out that cooking actual food requires preparation, care and someone willing to prevent the food from burning.  I lack all but the first of these, and frankly my preparation is a bit haphazard.

But with a family of four adults and two kids, food must and will be cooked.

This weekend witnessed what shall now be known as the Great Family Grocery Budget Debate. This went aling the lines of me & LSH being totally frustrated that despite the weekly shop having arrived two days earlier, we lacked the full ingredients for modt meals. Mum responded that we had to remain in budget, and I rather tactlessly duggested that she stopped buying a load of pre-packaged crap. (Actually, she took that remarkably well).

The decision was made that we would make a weeks menu and a list if any other groceries that we need for next week and create an online order product by product on our chosen supermarket.  It became a game and Sunday morning was spent playing Supermarket Wars. I can smugly say that I won. By a margin of £20. And swapped in tiny packets of packaged fresh veg for big 1kg bags of frozen. Bulk buying FTW!

We’ve also looked at our eating habits.

Cue Bean chilli.
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This consists of 5 cans of various beans, chopped tomatoes, spices, onions and a couple of fresh peppers. Stuck gun ho into the slow cooker and left to get on with it while we headed out for a few hours of skating. Enjoyed by most with a helping of rice. TinyPants declared it to be poison. I declared her to be eating it if she wanted pudding.

Tonight’s sliw cooker noms is named ‘WTF do I do with 5 sausages and some left over gammon??!’. Again, I’m working on the basis that LSH has been in London all day and not due back til 8. Meanwhile I have 20 mins in between arriving home and heading out to a Brownie thing with the girls.

Solution? Shove random stuff into a slow cooker on high and hope for the best.

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What have we here? Sausages, torn up gammon, tin of chopped tomatoes, bit of added water, carrots, onions, potatoes, paprika, coriander, 2 garlic cloves, a bit of beef gravy.

2.5 hours and it smells quite edible.

So there you have it. Slow cooking – perfect for those on a budget and who have the culinary ability and inclination of…. err…. someone with Dominoes on speed dial 😉

Slooooow Beef Stew

This stuff is stick to your ribs good, and with the first reports of snow appearing over Engkand today, a nice warming dinner was in order.

Stuff you need (makes enough for 6)

3 small onions (30p)
2 carrots
1 small swede (stew  pack £1)
Braising steak (£3.60)
Bottle of beer (£2)
Oxo cube (20p)
Garlic granules (10p)
Paprika
Oregano
3 bay leaves
Corriander leaf (about 10p for a few shakes each)
Gravy granules (5p)

Baking potato – £1.50 for 6

Total per person £1.55

Get stuff cooked:

Chop up the onions and leave them in a small amount of vegetable oil in the slow cooker on high to sweat.

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Chop up the beef into cubes just under a inch. In a frying pan, braise the beef in a mixture of water and the oxo cube until all sides are browned. Now pour about 1/4 of the beer in the pan. Don’t worry that it fizzes and looks a bit weird.

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Pour the dodgy looking beef and its juice in with the onions. Then in the same frying pan put in the carrots which have been roughly chopped to over 1cm thick and add the rest of the beer. This will soak off any beef that has stuck to the pan as well as making your kitchen smell lovely.

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After boiling for a couple of minutes, add this to the beef and onions.

Now chop up the swede and add this along with a generous (ready bloody loads) of the dried garlic and a good shake of coriander, paprika and oregano.  Finally,  put in three bay leaves.

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Once the lid is on, turn your slow cooker down to medium and cook for a good 5-6 hours (or 10-11 hours on low) until it looks like this:

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30 mins before serving, add a shake of gravy granules to thicken the sauce.

Serve with jacket potatoes and green veg.

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Taste tested this evening. Yum 🙂

Sunday Smells

It rained today. All day. Add to this that LSH has a streaming cold (which could take him from us at any time) and today looked like it wasn’t going to go well.

As it turned out, today was possibly one of the most relaxed weekend days I’ve had in weeks. All down to the new routines we have in place for ‘helping’ and my lax attitude to childcare.

This morning started with the smell of bacon. There is no better smell to wake up to (unless Johnny Depp, as Jack Sparrow doesn’t smell of bacon). And as I staggered downstairs in ruffled pyjamas and make up spread down my face I realised that not only was LSH cooking breakfast, I was up in time to get in on the action! I claim Sunday morning pre-9am my time to be completely incapable of logical thought or conversation. I’m not that much better most other mornings, but Sunday morning I verge on finding Nick Jr an academic challenge.

Breakfast done, I could smell coffee freshly brewing and this liquid nectar was just the thing needed to kick start our Homework Hour. In previous weeks, this has been horrific. Tears, snot, shouting, threats and full on sit down protests have ensued since the start of September (not just from me). But the last few weeks we have learnt about GoHenry and the power of pocket money! (The nice thing about this is not only do they get bonuses for tasks like actually doing their homework, I can deduct money for poor behaviour) They are mercenary little souls, but homework was got out, completed without fuss and done well.

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They instantly both logged onto their GoHenry apps to make sure next weeks pay reflected their newfound efforts, which it did. Payday is Saturday, so they still have to wait a full week for their money, but they can see it coming and both are budgeting their sweets accordingly. BeanPole even started her take home task by designing an Ancient Greek vase that she is determined to make and paint. She used a photo found online “but left out the Minotaur’s willy in case Mr T gets cross”.

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After an unusually pleasant homework session, it was my turn. As I sat down, the smell of LSH preparing the pork joint for slow roasting wafted through the house… Mmmm…..Session three of marking and planning for this weekend (I’m breaking it down into 3-4 hour chunks). I set a lot of tests this past week and I’m paying the price this weekend. The upside of this is the lovely progress graphs I’m collating for the term so far. This is a long half term and right now graphs are making me happy. I feel more organised and the more I feel I need to chase people to catch up, the more coloured conditional formatting I use. I am an INFJ – I need to feel in control!

A full 10 hours of marking and planning since 5pm Friday night and I feel back in control for tomorrow. I don’t begrudge this time. It’s what is needed to be effective and give the kids my full attention when I’m at school. I am pleased that I got it all done though.

While the kids played on various computer games & LSH fell asleep in front of the Grand Prix, I snuck into the kitchen with the iPad and attacked the groaning pile of ironing. The smell of the slowly melting pork loin mixed in with the lavender steam from the iron for the next two hours made the house smell lovely and warm in cold contrast to the continued miserable weather outside. Over the course of two hours I pressed and folded what felt like every item of clothing my children own, being kept going by a marathon catch up of Miranda and Mock the Week. I giggled my way through tedium.

Next followed something truly shocking. Having placed each child’s clothing in a personalised pile, when asked to take them upstairs and put them away nicely….. They did! No arguments, noises or arm swinging. I checked. In shock, I duly ticked off the ‘put clothes away’ task on GoHenry and thus another 50p was added to next weeks payday.

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Dinner finished by LSH, I frantically finish the apple crumble as everyone sits down to eat. Mum is shattered after being in work all weekend – more to follow on that next week… But dinner smells amazing. LSH makes a mean roast dinner and the 6 of us always make a point of making Sunday dinner a family meal. We talk. Or ‘debate’. And the kids make everyone laugh.

After dinner, it’s bath night. The kids are duly scrubbed clean for Monday morning. Hair is washed, and the lovely orangey scent of their shampoo makes me want to hug them tight and sniff their heads once I’ve dried their hair and snuggled them up warm in their pyjamas. This is not to be though as they opted so spend some of yesterday’s earnings on sweets which they had for pudding instead of my apple crumble (rude!) and were subsequently bouncing off the walls. Ah well, it’s LSH’s turn for bedtime. So while he reads them something in a low monotonous voice in the hope of boring them to sleep, I can sink into a lovely Radox filled bath and contemplate just how nice today was. And that Sundays smell really nice.