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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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).
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.