As many people have experienced, food intolerance can be a really nasty and painful experience, especially if left untreated or ‘tolerated’ until the sufferer can physically take no more. My intolerance experience stems back to when I was a young teenager. *pre-warning: the following contains a few references to my gut and it’s abilities to get really big and noisy!
Yeast – Visiting the naturopath for the first time in my early teens I was first advised that yeast was a food to avoid at all costs, my body just didn’t react well to it. Fortunately, Mum was quick to adjust to the advice and we set out to eat yeast free bread. Back in the day it was not nearly as exciting nor adventurously cooked as today’s options. I still appreciated the time, money and effort that was made to ensure I had yeast free delights! During the wonder years (refer to earlier posts for a more indepth explanation) I inhaled yeast as though it was about to be put on the illegal to ingest list and paid handsomely with unbelievable bloating, pain and flatulence. I am proud to say after 18 months of proper controlled eating (no yeast!) I have very little issues that I can pin point to being related to yeast. It was a huge task to eliminate yeast all together and required a lot of patience, label reading and trial eating.
Gluten – Ahhh gluten, my old friend. Similarly to yeast, I endured many years of pain and bloating in the gut which needed attention! I had blood testing completed in 2009 for coeliac disease as the gut reactions were so bad it sounded as though my belly was farting continuously, but felt like it was air moving around internally. The testing returned a negative reading and I was advised that it was simply an intolerance rather than coeliac disease and that I should follow a gluten free diet, alongside the yeast free diet. No problems! It took me around 18 months to actually follow these instructions carefully and properly before I started to really notice real live results. The feeling was incredible and far less embarrassing than the norm of rushing home to release the air in my gut. It was a matter of finding foods which I could eat, not focusing on what I could no longer devour. Fortunately, the bread situation was somewhat less ‘dense’ than as a teenager and the pre-package food options were everywhere!
FODMAP – Most recently (August, 2013), I was noticing that the age old gut troubles were returning and I was eating clean (making foods from their original form with very few inclusions of processed foods). I was completely lost with what the heck to do next; I’d cut out yeast and gluten and was eating as clean as possible, what possibly could be added to this listing? It had been suggested that I cut down on the dried fruit and nuts I was enjoying daily 😦 I booked myself an appointment with a dietitian and went with an open mind! The dietitian suggested a low FODMAP diet to firstly eliminate some ‘clean’ foods which contain high sugar strains and then bring some back in, one at a time, with follow up appointments every three weeks. I took the listing of foods that could be consumed and purchased in bulk in preparation for the elimination dieting. Three weeks in, dramatic changes and an almost flat belly. Six weeks in I felt the healthiest and lightest I had for … ever! Tomorrow marks the nine week mark and I’ve learnt quickly which foods to completely avoid (bad kale, bad!), and which are tolerable in smaller doses (welcome back avocado and almonds). I’ve posted my FODMAP fact sheet below which shows the levels of FODMAP in foods (i.e. high or low), of which I now live off the ‘low’ categories!
For those who are interested in reading more about FODMAPs, check out: http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/
So there’s the insight into my food intolerance journey, in as little wording as possible. Whilst I no longer struggle with avoiding gluten and yeast, I do sometimes still dip into a high FODMAP food, and pay for it in gut pain for one to two days afterwards. I do wonder … was it IBS or too much high sugar content ingested all along? I’m not going back now!!!
~ ~ Cate ~ ~