Elimination stations

In a bid to work out why I'm still having tummy ouchies, I recently made an appointment with dietitian Joanna Baker from Everyday Nutrition. We talked about how some of the foods that irritate my stomach don't seem to fit with the food groups that I'm already avoiding (gluten-free, dairy-free and low fodmaps). Joanna introduced me to the low food chemical diet (also known as the failsafe diet which reduces the amount of naturally occurring food chemicals: salicylates, amines and glutamates being consumed). It sounded like a really un-fun diet, but Joanna assured me it was worth doing an elimination diet to try and figure out what my food triggers are, because I may be able to then reintroduce foods that I'm currently avoiding (OMG please someone tell me I can start eating cheese)! As an added "bonus", the failsafe diet also means I've had to avoid perfumed products, mint toothpaste, and try and stay away from perfumed areas e.g. my yoga studio where they burn incense on the regular.

An elimination diet, is a short-term diet where certain foods are removed from your diet and then slowly reintroduced to see if you have a reaction. Let me tell you, an elimination diet is NOT fun. In my case, the elimination diet was gluten-free, dairy-free, low fodmaps and failsafe. 

Here's what I've been allowed to eat over the past month:

  • Peeled zucchini
  • Peeled white potatoes/brown rice/white rice
  • Unprocessed fresh meat (excluding pork and processed meat) - must be cooked and eaten within 24 hours; or cooked, frozen and then eaten within 24 hours.
  • Potato crisps (only certain brands)
  • Eggs
  • Decaf coffee with rice milk or soy milk (gluten-free soy milk only)

As you can imagine, the past month feels like it's been about 3 years long, I'm desperate to eat something different, and I'm sick of the sight of zucchinis. However, the good news is that my stomach has been feeling wayyyy better.

And now for the exciting and scary stage. Next week I'm starting to re-introduce foods, starting with lactose-free milk. I've already decided that I'll be having my first sample at home when we have a good stock of toilet paper. Wish me luck!

If you suspect you have food intolerances or food allergies, please do not attempt an elimination diet on your own. An elimination diet needs to be closely supervised, to make sure you continue to get enough nutrition in your diet. Dietitians are also better at ensuring you're eliminating the right foods e.g. some foods are both high in fodmaps as well as high food chemical, so you could easily remove a food group unnecessarily. Find a good dietitian before giving up any food group. If you're hunting for a dietitian, make sure you ask them about their approach to make sure it matches with your goals. I chose Joanna because she is pro-whole foods, and is a coeliac on a low fodmap diet herself, so understands what it's like to live on a restricted diet. She lives in Melbourne, but does Skype appointments - so bonus for me.

P.s. dietitians are not nutritionists. A nutritionist is not necessarily qualified, whereas a dietitian is qualified to post-graduate level.

 

Fantasy

While most people dream of winning lotto, I dream of a day when I can eat whatever I like without consequence. Just to recap, the items on my 'I can't eat it unless I want to be in immense pain' list include: gluten, dairy, tomato, capsicum, coffee and high fodmaps foods. I also can't handle sugar which is a bit of a blah cos sugar is yum (if not poisonous for most people).

Most of my diet is largely whole foods, unprocessed and pretty healthy. But that doesn't mean I don't miss junk food. And since it's the start of

Junk Free June

, and half of my friends are giving up junk food for the month, what better time to fantasise about what I'd eat if I could, even if it was just for one day.

Here's my sweet fantasy:

Breakfast

Vogels bread with vegemite and butter

Weet-bix with heaps of sugar and warm milk

Flat white with one sugar - mmm ...

Snacks

Orange chocolate chip ice cream

Donuts from Dunkin Donuts - I've never tried them before but they look yum

Flat white with one sugar - mmm

More sugar than you can shake a stick at - biscuits, chocolate, milkshakes ...

Lunch

McChicken Combo from McDonalds - burger, fries, and a chocolate sundae - you can hold the coke, I don't really miss it.

Dinner

Pizza - OMG pizza would be amazing. I'm going with a BBQ chicken flavour, and beer fried chips.

Garlic bread - home made bread (not made by me obviously cos this is a fantasy)

Dessert

Chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The weird thing is that even after over ten years of not eating any of this food, I still want to eat it, and sometimes crave it. I think some of the craving is sugar-related - man I miss that stuff, and it's been a year doing

the low-sugar thing

(and I still struggle to stay on the wagon). The other thing I noticed is that everything on the list (except bread) is highly processed, and it makes me realise how much I miss convenience. There's no handy shortcut for making food from scratch - it takes time and energy.

So yeah, my diet is really healthy, but left to my own devices and with no consequences I wonder how easy it would be to make the right food decisions every day. Processed (highly sugary food) is easy to find, cheap and convenient. If you suffer no immediate side effects after eating junk food how hard would it be to say no to temptation that is literally everywhere? I reckon pretty hard. Maybe that's why we have such a problem with obesity in this country - addiction tastes so good when it's name is sugar.

To everyone who's doing Junk Free June, I wish you the best of luck. It's an awesome cause. You can do it!

P.S. Huge shout out to my

Facebook

followers for their fantasy food ideas which included: beer, pies, "all the wine in the universe", fresh bread (I'm with you guys on that one), bakery foods and more.

Buckwheat ginger biscuits recipe

I love sweet things, but seldom eat them these days as I continue with the low sugar diet. Sometimes though, I just want a treat. Not too long ago I found this recipe online. Because of my special dietary needs (low fodmaps, gluten-free, dairy-free and a dislike of coconut flour ...) I decided to adapt the heck out of it, and surprisingly it worked. Hope you enjoy these biscuits as much as I do.

Buckwheat ginger biscuits

(Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free, low fodmaps)

5 tbs buckwheat flour

2 tbs tapioca flour

4 tbs olive oil

2 tbs maple syrup

1-2 tbs fresh ginger, grated (adjust to match how much you love ginger)

1/4 tsp whole fennel seeds

A few grinds of black pepper

Heat oven to 180 celsius.

– Mix all ingredients together to form a dough.

– Roll into balls and flatten to 1/4 inch on a greased oven tray.

– Bake until golden (approx 9 minutes). Cool on the oven tray to prevent crumbling.

– Eat! (yum)

Burgers! Grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, low fodmaps (and still delicious, honest!)

You know what I really miss? Hamburgers! Mmm ...

Recently I saw a photo on Facebook where someone had switched out the burger bun with sweet potato, which got me thinking ... surely I could make the entire burger grain-free. Turns out I can! And they're super yum.

The only draw-back to whipping up a batch of burgers is that Jelly (who lives permanently indoors) just about goes out of his mind with the delicious smell wafting around the kitchen. Check out his sad, pleading face

"Please give me some mince mum!"

Here's the recipe - enjoy!

Burgers! Grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, low fodmaps 

(and still delicious, honest!)

Makes approx 15-20 burgers depending on how big you make the patties

Burger Patties

1 Kg Beef mince

1-2 Zucchini (aka Courgettes) or carrots

1 Egg

1/2-1 Cup Almond meal (check that your brand is gluten-free)

Grate the zucchini, and then pat it dry with a paper towel (otherwise it'll add too much moisture to the meat patties).

Mix all ingredients (including the zucchini) together and shape into patties.

Pan fry until cooked (turning occasionally).

Note: If fodmaps aren't a problem for you, you might like to add some fried onion and spices to your burger mix.

Kumara 'buns'

Slice kumara (that's sweet potato for those of you outside of New Zealand) into rounds and roast until ready. We use an air fryer and it takes about 20 minutes.

Make it a meal

Assemble the burger, adding any yummy noms you like - I like to add a fried egg, some cucumber and spinach. Ooh delicious!

Eat and enjoy!

Weekend brunch at Columbus

Yesterday I had the most glorious brunch with my lovely (him of the gingery persuasion and kind heart).

Columbus Coffee on the corner of Victoria and London Street - I heart you!

What a welcoming cafe for us gluteys. 

Walking in, you're greeted with fresh, inviting decor, and kind staff who don't run screaming when you mention the word 'food allergies'. In fact, there's even a sign on the counter stating that they cater for special diets <squee>. That's like an invitation for us freaklets of the food allergy variety.

I ordered The paleo breakfast. The paleo breakfast normally consists of eggs, salmon, avocado, tomato, sprouty things, mushrooms and spinach. Because of my special requirements, I got a version without the mushrooms and tomato - and it was still outstanding.

The food arrived promptly, and looked pretty on the plate until I started mowing into it. Then all I could focus on was how good it tasted.

A huge shout out to Columbus for good, safe food accompanied by fantastic green tea. I'll be back! 

Special thanks to the guys in the Hamilton Gluten and Dairy-free group  who recommended Columbus to me.

What the Fod are FODMAPs?

Years ago, when I was advised by my gastroenterologist to avoid high FODMAPs foods, I cried.

Huge, salty tears complete with loud sobs. There may even have been foot stamping ...

Life seemed tough enough being gluten, dairy and tomato free, without having to cut out a whole lot more of the noms.

Turned out that the gastro guy wasn't just being a jerk, and a low FODMAPs diet did actually help to reduce my tummy ouchies quite significantly.

So what the fod are FODMAPs?

The low FODMAPs diet was developed by Dr Sue Shepherd, as a way of treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The theory is that foods that are high in Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols are poorly absorbed by some people; and instead of the foods digesting, they hang out in the small intestine causing bacterial overgrowth and fermenting. This fermentation in the gut causes pain, diarrhea, constipation, wind and bloating - the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Image courtesy of http://www.nutridesk.com.au/

High FODMAPs foods include tasty noms such as garlic, onion, lactose, high fructose foods, chickpeas, lentils and wheat. Check out the full list of what to eat and what to avoid here.

Flavour without the FODMAPs

But fear not, life without FODMAPs doesn't mean you can't have flavour.

Here are some ingredients you can use to add flavour without triggering IBS:

  • Ginger
  • Golden or maple syrup
  • Herbs such as basil and rosemary
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spring onions (only the green part)
  • Chilli
  • Chives
  • Asafoetida powder - tastes like onion

You could also try making garlic infused oil - yum!

Good news for FODMAP-ers!

The good news about FODMAPs is that unlike a food allergy, which usually involves complete avoidance, many people on a low FODMAPs diet can tolerate some high or moderate FODMAPs foods, or may not react at all to some high FODMAPs foods. For myself, I can tolerate a lot of avocado, can tolerate a small amount of garlic, but can't tolerate any mushrooms.

It's a case of trial and error with FODMAPs to find out what you can tolerate. And as with any diet, it's recommended you do this with the help of a medical specialist. 

If you're ever in Melbourne ...

And finally, I'd like to show off this AMAZING place that I recently visited while visiting my sister in Melbourne.

Fox in the Box does FODMAPs friendly, gluten-free and lactose-free meals. And it all tastes amazing! 

If you're in Melbourne, check them out! They even have a discount for members of the Victorian and Tasmanian Coeliac Society. AWESOME!!!!