Day 14: FODMAPs

A lot has happened in the past few days. I’ve seen the Hunger Games. Twice.

I had the MOST AMAZING RUN (and experienced “Vomit Hill”).

Vomit Hill - I almost contributed to its namesake.

And yesterday, I saw a nutritionist. I have been thinking about seeing one for quite some time and this past week I was pushed to the edge. I feel like my body is attacking itself whenever I eat.

You see, I was diagnosed with Acid Reflux at age 5; Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) at 10; Chronic Daily Headaches due to decreased levels of Serotonin at 19; Lactose Intolerance in early 20s; Hypothyroidism at 27; Gastroparesis at 28. Not to mention Asthma and Seasonal Allergies.

That’s a whole lot of auto-immune problems going on.

When you have IBS, you’re told to eat more fiber. When you try to lose weight, you are told to eat more fiber – because it is more filling than other foods.

When you’re diagnosed with gastroparesis, you’re told to eat less fiber – that fiber is one of the worst things for that condition.

So, when you have it all (aren’t you jealous?), what in the hell are you supposed to eat?

I don’t know. And that’s why I went to see a nutritionist. No matter what I’ve tried, I can’t lose more weight. I’m down 27 lbs. from my highest weight 2 years ago, but I cannot get past this hump. It’s frustrating because I work out – hard. I work out 4-5 times a week.

The appointment was very eye-opening. Rachel was very friendly and helpful. I was afraid that I would scare her off with all my problems. After listening to my history, taking a look at a food log and asking me some other questions, Rachel suggested I might benefit from eliminating FODMAPs from my diet.

I know what you’re thinking – what in the hell are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. The term is an acronym.

FODMAPs are: Fermentable, Oligosaccharides (eg. Fructans and Galactans), Disaccharides (eg. Lactose), Monosaccharides (eg. excess Fructose) and Polyols (eg. Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt).

Basically, they are sugars, starches and fibers in food that some people (especially those with IBS) can’t fully digest or absorb. Because FODMAPs aren’t absorbed properly in the small intestine, “They end up in the large intestine along with water, where they undergo bacterial fermentation into hydrogen, carbon dioxide and short-chain fatty acids.” Sounds sexy, right?

Can I be honest here? Good. I can’t even explain just how bloated I’ve been lately. And gassy. Again with the sexy talk.

After researching and reading more about FODMAPs, I wonder if the size of my gut will go down as I eliminate FODMAPs from my diet. Can I blame my bloaty gut on them? We’ll see.

First attempt at FODMAPs elimination diet - salmon cakes.

For the past two weeks, it hasn’t mattered what I eat – I always feel horrible after eating. It’s frustrating. It makes you not want to eat. But I know I have to, so I keep eating. Honestly, I’m willing to try just about anything at this point. So, Rachel and I decided that I would try to eliminate FODMAPs from my diet for the next month, and then return to discuss how the month went. I am going to keep a food journal, detailing everything I eat for the next month. I will be including my energy level and other physical symptoms with each post. You can follow my food journal (if you’re interested) at http://fodmap.tumblr.com.

Initially, I’m going to completely eliminate FODMAPs from my diet. If things get better, I may attempt to bring certain (borderline) foods back in to my diet, to see which FODMAPs my body can tolerate. I’m hopeful this elimination diet will change my life for the better. Otherwise, I’m gonna be pissed to give up things like apples, pears, avocados, watermelon, artichokes, asparagus, garlic, onion, mushrooms and EVERYTHING THAT CONTAINS GLUTEN/WHEAT.

Yeah. I’m not happy about this diet, but I’m trying it because I so desperately want to feel normal. Even if it means eliminating favorite foods from my diet. Basically, eliminating FODMAPs from your diet means eating no packaged foods – it is difficult to find packaged foods that don’t contain FODMAPs, so this afternoon’s trip to the grocery store was a lengthy one – full of reading labels on EVERYTHING and trying not to feel too depressed. I’m to the point I just NEED to feel better and I’ll do just about anything to get there.

Anyways. Whew. There’s that. Here’s to new beginnings.

Here are some resources I’ve found helpful so far:

 

Spread the word: Let’s Beat Crohn’s and Colitis

I need your help. As you know, I am training for a half marathon to raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. I’m not asking you for money (but if you’d like to donate, here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/napa2010)… but rather for your help in spreading the word. I know my emails/tweets/facebook/dailymile messages are out of control, but I’m totally freaking out. I have to raise $3800 and if I’m not close by May 17 (re-commitment date) I may not be able to continue with the program. Currently, we have raised $1,811.13. I have 31 days to raise $1,988.87. That means I need to raise an average of $64.16 EACH DAY for the next 31 days.

What’s the big deal with Crohn’s and Colitis? They’re quite literally shitty diseases.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are collectively known as inflammatory bowel diseases. Crohn’s disease is a chronic (ongoing) disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although it can involve any area of the GI tract, it most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon. Ulcerative colitis on the other hand, affects only the colon. The inflammation involves the entire rectum and extends up the colon in a continuous manner. There are no areas of normal intestine between the areas of diseased intestine. In contrast, such so-called “skip” areas may occur in Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis affects only the innermost lining of the colon, whereas Crohn’s disease can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall.

I have three family members with either one or both of these diseases. When I was 20 years old, I had a colonoscopy because my doctors thought I, too, had Ulcerative Colitis. There is a strong possibility I could be diagnosed with the disease in the next 15 years (most people are diagnosed in their 30s).

I already have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and am scared of the possibility of developing this crappy disease. I hope that if I am every diagnosed, there is already a cure in place because I’ve seen first-hand how difficult it is to live with. And let’s be honest, I don’t want to have a raw ass for the rest of my life because of constant diarrhea.

Can you help me find 76 people to donate $2/mile ($26.20)? With your help, we CAN find a cure.

What am I asking of you? Please spread the word.

  • Tweet: @amykant is running a half marathon to #beatcrohns. Help us find a cure! #pushamy http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • Tweet: Help rid the world of IBD: Donate now to #beatcrohns #beatcolitis http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • Tweet: Save a tree! Help reduce the use of toilet paper! #beatcrohns #beatcolitis http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • Tweet: Save a colon! Support @amykant’s quest to raise $3800 and run a half marathon to #beatcrohns http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • Facebook: My friend Amy Kant is training for a half marathon to help find a cure for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Can you spare $2/mile ($26.20) to find a cure? http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • Facebook or Tweet: Save an ass, save a life. Help find a cure for Crohn’s and Colitis. http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • Facebook or Tweet: Spare a square? Help find a cure for crappy Crohn’s and Colitis http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • Facebook or Tweet: Help send a child with Crohn’s/Colitis to summer camp http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • TUESDAYS – Facebook or Tweet: For every $ donated today, @amykant will do a crunch. #feeltheburn #tuesdaycrunch http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • TUESDAYS – Facebook or Tweet: Make @amykant feel the burn. $1=1 crunch tonight. #tuesdaycrunch http://tinyurl.com/napa2010
  • Send an e-mail to family, friends and coworkers. Copy this blog post and send away! Why not send a forward that could actually help save a life? So many times forwards pose threats of bad luck, hoaxes or useless jokes, photos and sayings. This e-mail has the potential to save a life.
  • Blog about it. Even a post as simple as “My friend Amy Kant is training to run a half marathon to raise money and awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis. Please check out her fundraising site and consider donating $1/mile ($13.10). I know you can spare 3 Starbucks lattes this week to help find a cure for these crappy diseases. http://tinyurl.com/napa2010

These are just a few ideas. Thank you for your help, your support, your encouragement and especially your love. I am on this journey because of you.