It's been a while since I updated.
I went to a nutritionist, and together we (and the lab where she sent my blood for some very expensive tests) have discovered that:
1. I have food sensitivities. Nothing huge, but I'm quite sensitive to stuff I have been consuming several times a day, every day.
2. Despite the crazy diet I've been on since August, I'm not really deficient in anything. I'm still pretty healthy. Go-go-gadget vitamin supplements, I guess.
So now I'm working to calm my immune system by removing everything that's known to set me off and eating only those things known not to set me off. But I still don't really know what sets me off, so it's a process.
I DO know that pizza sets me off. Even gluten-free pizza. So there's that.
I also know (now) that there is no "safe" serving of cake. (It was the boys' birthday weekend, and I knew I was starting this calming diet, so I splashed out a bit. To my deep regret.)
Also my beloved ginger tea is a no-go. I switched to rooibos and my symptoms immediately diminished. I don't like rooibos as much as I like ginger, but I can deal.
My diet is amazingly healthy these days. At the rate I'm going, I should live roughly forever.
Another one: Funfetti cake mix. I didn't notice any effect yesterday or the day before, but today when I had a piece on a mostly empty stomach, I immediately developed stomach cramps. Not sure what the trigger is -- it's a cake mix, so the list of ingredients is quite long -- and I don't think I'm going to let it stop me from having a piece of cake on my birthday, but I don't think I'll be making this regularly.
I think I just need to kick my sweets habit. Everything else has been pretty easy to replace, but the sweets get me into trouble every time. But dammit, I don't have any vices left!
We went to the movies last night, and the kids got popcorn. And it smelled so good. (Also, I'd had something like 900 calories all freaking day and I was starving.) So I did that stupid "How bad can it be?" move and scarfed half a bag.
When I sit down today, my belly rests on my thighs.
"No more popcorn for me," I told R. "Ever. If I so much at look at popcorn, I want you to say DOOOOOOOM! Got it?"
"DOOOOOOOOM!" he said. "Got it."
I'm sick. As are R and both kids. My mom is in the hospital. And I'm currently working to transition from FT freelance to half freelance and half employee, with all the paperwork and background checks that entails. (Which, truth be told, wouldn't be so onerous were I not also sick.) Plus, it's Christmas. And I'm still all Moaning Myrtle.
All of which feeds the Justification Fire that led me to eat seven peanut butter cookies for breakfast. In secret, because while I never claimed to be a role model, I do have little people who look up to me and say things like "Well, you ate cookies for breakfast -- why can't we?"
I'm not even sorry. I know I will be, long about 3 a.m. But right now I'm content to be bloated and slightly nauseated. It's been a rough morning, mkay?
One reaction does not a trend make, but IMMEDIATELY upon eating (actually *while* I was eating) sourdough bread topped with nothing but a thin coating of the vegan butter that I've been safely eating for months, I doubled over with the most severe stomach cramps I've had in a while. So...there's that. I think I'll be good for a couple of days, then try again. If it happens again, methinks it's not the fructans.
I've been doing some mad Google searching and suspect that my issue is fructans. Many high-fructan foods are on my no-fly list, and even some safe-in-small-servings foods that have set me off at larger servings (like those peanut butter cookies). So I'm going to do an experiment: I'm going to eat some sourdough toast. Sourdough, made right, eliminates the fructans. If I can eat it and not experience symptoms, then gluten is not my problem. Granted, I'll still have to eat gluten free for the most part, because most gluteny foods are also high in fructans. But I would be able to have, in theory, sourdough toast.
Peanut butter cookies are definitely a trigger. At least in quantities exceeding, say, 2 cookies. But they're so goooood. And I'm sick of all the other foods I can eat. I may need to boycott them until I get myself under control.
Popcorn -- corn at all, really -- is also a trigger. Unfortunately, R has been on a popcorn kick lately. I don't want to discourage it, because compared to their other favorite snacks, popcorn is a health food. But I have to resist, and it is so hard.
Rice Krispie treats, which my son adorably calls Christmas Treats because I put holly candy sprinkles in them, are safe at one small square per day. Again, not having a good time sticking to one small square per day.
I may end up banning sugar just to save myself these binges. I'm definitely an abstainer: It is way easier for me to never have something than to have just a little and stop. I hate the thought of denying myself little treats in this otherwise austere af diet, but it may be necessary until I find something I can binge on.
If, indeed, anything remains that I can binge on. The issue may well be the binging.
In the meantime, strawberrry/cranberry smoothies are safe. I'm slowly weaning myself off the honey, because I know it can be a trigger. I made a potato soup last night that even Anya wanted seconds of, so I'm making it again tonight. I just saw that baby spinach is supposedly safe, so I will pick some up next time I buy groceries. I'm depressed over all I can't eat, especially this time of year. But at least I'm finding foods *to* eat.
Life, such as it is, goes on.
I'm conducting an experiment. (Or at least that's how I'm spinning it.) I made a bunch of peanut butter cookies the other day. The fam scarfed down the first batch in under 12 hours, so I doubled the recipe. Only the recipe didn't work well doubled, so nobody's scarfing but me. Not my intention, but hey.
In the scarfage, I've come to find that when I eat a lot of PB, I end up stiff and sore and bloated the next day. Which is where the experiment comes in: For the next day or two (if I can make it that long), I will eat NO peanuts. I'm honestly not sure how long I'm going to make it, because peanuts are one of my only fat sources, and I get crabtastic when I eat too little fat. But I'm tired of hobbling around, so I'm going to give it a try.
I'm also combining this push with a renewed bout of intermittent fasting. The less I eat, the better I feel, and IF helps me eat less. I started today by putting off breakfast til 9 a.m. Breakfast was a strawberry/cranberry smoothie with a dab of honey (I'm slowly adapting to the cranberry juice). Honey is a no-no food, so I'm going to see if it's really off limits or if I can reincorporate it. It really is better in smoothies than crunchy sugar. Anyway, I have tomato soup for lunch (and a salad if I'm starving) and leftovers for dinner -- potatoes and green beans. Nothing that should rock the boat, so long as I stick to the plan.
Here's hoping I can stick to the plan.
I found a dietitian that will see me without a referral. I have an appointment in a week and a half. Cross your fingers for me.
In other news, it looks like the kiwi is what nauseates me. Still don't like the honeydew, though. After I finish the last bit in the freezer, I'm going to go back to the strawberry and just limit my quantities.
I am sad again. I don't know if that's a product of events this week (it's not been a good week thus far), a product of food deprivation, or both. But it is a self-fulfilling situation: The worse I feel, the less I want to eat. The less I eat, the worse I feel. (My stomach has settled, at least. And I'm having virtually no back pain.)
If only I could impart some of this angst onto our last healthy fish, so it would stop nipping at its dying tank mate.
The x-ray was clear. Only took a month to find that out. They were assuming the fiber would fix me, so they didn't bother telling me my results. Their next step is a pill.
I'm currently shopping for another doctor. Or a dietitian. Preferably both.
In the meantime, it's looking like either kiwi or honeydew don't agree with me. (Both are supposedly FODMAP safe in the quantities I'm eating, so that's not the problem.) I was drinking a smoothie of them in the morning, but quit for a few days to indulge in a (smaller) strawberry smoothie because I freaking hate honeydew and merely tolerate kiwi. Today I went back on the honeydew to get it out of my freezer, and suddenly I am queasy. Still, my belly is finally back down to normalish after my weekend transgressions -- s'mores and potato chips. The s'mores made my back hurt so bad that the kids had to put my socks on me the next day. The potato chips made me swell like I was 6 months pregnant.
No gluten. No fried food. I'm going to be so freaking healthy once I figure out what I *can* eat...
Well, that was anticlimactic.
To update: Last week I had an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Who poked on my belly and told me I didn't feel constipated (news flash: I didn't feel constipated when I wound up in the ER with it -- and I'm thin enough that you can feel stuff like that without really trying). He ordered some lab work and an x-ray, told me to take fiber, and sent me on my way.
I just got a letter from his office. The lab work did not indicate celiac. No word on my x-rays, but I found the record in the hospital's online portal: the language is nearly identical to that of my ER visit last March. In fact, I had to read it five times to make sure it *wasn't* my record from March. (This one cites the size of my kidney stones, so it's new.)
No possible alternative diagnosis. No follow-up advice. No advice of any kind. It really feels like a brush-off: You don't have anything serious, so be off with you.
I've completely upended my lifestyle since March. I'm currently starving to death really, really slowly. It's a big deal to me, mkay?
Sorry. I'm a little emo today. I'd gone off the crazy diet in honor of these tests, because they can't register a reaction if you're not having one. As such, I can now tell you that my mood tanks on this diet. So I'm trying to keep that in mind and not despair; things probably aren't as dire as they feel in this moment. But I'm feeling really frustrated at the futility of all this.
I already ate a very healthy, fiber-rich diet. I drink loads of water. I do not drink soda, alcohol, coffee, or anything dehydrating; my worst offense is green tea. My symptoms came on after I started eating *more* fiber and fruit. After my initial diagnosis, I asked what I could do differently, because I quite honestly couldn't understand how I got so bad in the first place. My GP told me to eat more plant-based foods. So I did; I cut out all animal products. Then all gluten. Then all FODMAPs. Then all foods that caused me any sort of gastrointestinal distress whatsoever. What I was left with was a diet that's utterly unsustainable, but I did eventually achieve relief.
And now I'm back to square freaking one. I think I'm entitled to be a little depressed about it.
I need some guidance. Someone to acknowledge that what I'm dealing with isn't the product of a shitty diet, to help me figure out what did cause this and help me correct it. Preferably without medication that costs $10 a day, thank you very much.
I just want to feel well again.
And my duh moment: They make supplements to help one digest lactase.
Mom and I went shopping yesterday, and stopped by Memphis Pizza Cafe for some truly excellent pizza. (Pizza is one of the few GF foods I can find in restaurants around here. I'm already kind of sick of pizza.) I ordered the Alternative (olive oil instead of tomato sauce, topped with cheese and sliced cherry tomatoes), and it was delicious. But I couldn't order light cheese, as I've been doing other places, because that would leave very damned little to the pizza -- so soon after we ate, there was a disturbance in the force. I discovered the lactase tablets in the the digestives section of the Target pharmacy and, though it was already long after the directions said to take them, I popped a couple and crossed my fingers. So far, so good. I don't even hurt today.
A bright spot in the dairy thing: I ate a few pieces of GF pizza with just a small amount of cheese and didn't die. (Or wish for death.) So maybe dairy isn't off the table, but merely something I have to eat in small quantities. I can do that.
Food prep day. I can't find frozen honeydew melon or kiwi, so I'm making my own. As in I'm chopping up honeydew and kiwis and dishing them out in smoothie proportions (2 kiwis plus 1.5 cup honeydew). I have been doing two days in advance, because that's how many smoothie cups I have. But I missed a few days and my kiwis were getting smushy, so I pulled in some kid cups and chopped up the lot of them. I now have the fruit ready for 5 days of smoothies, so I have zero excuse for skipping my smoothies for a while.
I've also been plotting a new soup recipe since we hit the local farmer's market and I bought some butternut squash. I've been sick, and thus not remotely in the mood for cooking, but I'm feeling better now. So I have peeled and chopped a squash, and tomorrow while I'm working I will roast it with some carrots for soup. Extremely orange soup.
We ordered pizza last night, so I don't have to cook for the minions or Daddy. I'm just going to have a baked potato tonight (I had pizza for lunch). So I don't have to worry about any meals until Saturday at lunch time. Woot.
Dairy in large quantities is now on the list of things to avoid. I've been successfully eating small amounts of cheese, butter, etc. Then last night I ate a cup of ice cream (no other changes in the diet) and boom. My stomach sounds like a burbling brook today. (Feels less peaceful, unfortunately.)
Appointment is next Friday. I so hope this dude can help. I just want to be able to eat and not feel weird afterwards.
I realized this morning that a lot of the foods I'm having trouble with were foods I was highly averse to while pregnant. I'm not sure there's anything to that, but it's interesting.
Not sure if the culprit is the gluten, the coconut, or something else (gluten and coconut are on my list of suspected triggers), but my mom's birthday cake is definitely off limits. After a few days of feeling ugh, I was feeling less so this morning...until I snacked on a piece of cake. A small piece. After eating a normal (for this diet) breakfast and letting it digest. I treated Kai with a piece for peeing in the potty -- okay, and not unrolling the whole roll of TP while he was in there -- and indulged myself in a sliver while I was at it. Immediate stomach cramps. And I still feel bad, hours later.
I got cocky, after my low-key reaction to all that stuff. And I was also tired, and coming down with kid crud, and not at all in the mood for a baked potato. So I ate a couple of pieces of pizza for dinner last night. Which I absolutely did not enjoy (was the crust always so sweet?!), AND which left me in agony for about 6 hours. I'm still in pain 12 hours later.
I can't point to the exact trigger here, but I have my suspicions. Pyro's pizza does not do this to me. But I order the GF crust and light cheese at Pyro's. It's not greasy at all. (Not sweet, either. For what it's worth.) Too bad there's not one close by.
Anyway. No more delivery pizza. Can't say I'm broken up about that, really. It was decidedly unyummy.
I've gone off the rails these past few days. Corn chips with nacho cheese sauce and salad with shredded cheese and cucumber and kettle corn and cream of tomato soup and coconut cake with ice cream and apple crisp. I hurt. I'm bloated. The trains are not running as they should. But I'm not (right now at this moment in time) in agony. And I can't say that, in terms of my symptoms, I can point to any one of those foods and go "You! This is your fault!"
In fact, the only thing I've eaten in the past month that I am that certain caused a severe dietary reaction is fried food. When I eat fried food, I find myself doubled over in pain within two days.
Know what I could happily go the rest of my life without eating? Yep.
So I'm feeling a bit better about life in general right now. I'm not yet brave enough to abandon the low FODMAP diet all together, because I am still bloated and sore. But maybe I could still have a cheese sammich now and again.
Maybe it's because I can drink what I can't eat. Maybe it's because I've been on such a limited diet for so long that even foods I hate are starting to appeal to me. (Et tu, broccoli?) But I'm drinking a smoothie that is basically just honeydew and kiwi and I don't hate it. If it sits well (fruit has not been sitting well), I will add two more fruits to my conditional will-eat list.
Look at me, eating...er, drinking fruit like a grown-up.
After a day of playing app message/phone tag with my doctor's nurse's nurse (because everyone in that office is too busy for me, apparently), I have the promise of a referral to a gastroenterologist. I was leery of that move, because so many of the gastros around here talk about nothing but surgical procedures on their sites, and I'm wanting to start with a...gentler approach. But after having very little pain yesterday (after having very little food the day before -- I ate only 1/4 cup of peanuts in 24 hours), I woke today in so much pain that I can't rise to sitting or standing without pulling myself up on something. I took a pain pill, and I rarely ever take pain medication, for any reason. But it hurts just sitting here.
There has to be a fix for this.
And once I get this matter sorted out, I'm finding a new GP. I love my doctor, and his NP, but I need to be able to get in touch with my medical professionals when I have a problem. Otherwise, what bloody good are they?
Why must this be so *hard*?
So I'm down to a diet of peanuts/peanut butter, baked potatoes with vegan butter, tomato soup, pumpkin soup, green beans, and plain lettuce salad with a scattering of sunflower seeds plus a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette -- if I'm feeling decadent, I add 4 green olives. For a treat, I allow myself a few small pieces of vegan chocolate pumpkin seed bark per day. I'm almost certainly dancing with malnutrition at this point, and just when I think it's doing some good, I flare up again.
This time, it was the pumpkin soup.
But the FODMAP lists all say pumpkin is okay. What gives?
Apparently, it's the quantity. I can have 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin per sitting. I've been having more like 1/3 to 1/2 cup.
Cue the 4 a.m. awakenings, chinning myself up on the headboard to lift myself to sitting. The bloating, the pain, the whole nine.
Honestly, if I think too hard about it all, I start to cry. Could be menopause, or food deprivation; could also be that the pain is really beginning to wear on me. But I am just a rabid sprinkler these days. I sobbed in Kai's hair yesterday while he wiped my cheeks, worried. "Where it hurt, Mommy? I kiss it make it better."
I did have a last-ditch idea, since the whole GP/dietitian thing fell through: I may ask my OB/GYN to recommend someone. He has in the past recommended everyone from a psychologist to an orthopedic surgeon (I used him as my GP for most of my adult life), so I feel fairly certain he could steer me in the right direction. I'm just worried that he'd send me to a gastroenterologist; so many of the local ones I've looked into seem surgically focused. I'm not quite ready to give up and agree to surgery.
But damn, am I getting sick of peanuts and potatoes.
Yesterday was rough. Anya got allergy tested AND got a flu shot, which turned into two injections because the nurse didn't completely empty the syringe the first time. My daughter goes into hysterics at the thought of a needle. Our collective nerves were shot by the time we left there. As were the nerves of everyone in the office.
I am pretty much viceless these days, unless you count caffeine. And I can't even drink caffeine after noon if I want to sleep that night. So I indulged myself in some fries from Freddy's, knowing full well that they've caused me problems in the past.
I didn't remember it being this bad, though. The stomach pain kicked in about an hour after I ate -- that "uh-oh, I have eaten something bad" kind of pain. By bedtime, I had my 6-months-preggo belly back. (My stomach has been flat or nearly flat this week.) And this morning I literally had to roll out of bed, so great was the pain in my lower back and abdomen. Even now, four hours and much gentle stretching later, I'm in so much pain I can't bend over.
The source of the trigger is unclear. I've always reacted to fried foods, though usually the symptoms were restricted to queasiness and gas and were gone by morning. Freddy's site says that the fries are cooked in oil that is used for chicken strips and onion rings, meaning they could contain gluten and whey -- dairy. Gluten has shown itself to be a likely trigger in my food diary. The jury's still out on dairy.
I'm wondering if I could be reacting this badly to a food that merely touched oil that has touched gluten. I'm also wondering if this means I'll never eat cake and pie again, because that's just how my mind works.
I have my doctor's appointment today. So I guess it's a good thing that I'm going in flared; that way he can see what I'm talking about.
And no more fries for me. I thought saying that would make me sad, but I'm in too much pain to get all broken up over it.
I do so like to start things on a Sunday, or Monday even, but this will have to do:
Starting today, for at least the next 4 weeks (possibly the next 8, seeing how things go), nothing crosses these lips that doesn't get a green light in terms of my low FODMAP app. Once I realized I had been committing all sorts of FODMAP transgressions, I went all out and ate a bunch of stuff I knew would upset me last night -- the dietary equivalent of a former coworker kicking the cigarettes by smoking a carton in one night. It worked for her, and today my bloated, achy self is not even missing the honey and pomegranate in my strawberry smoothie. Whatever I have to eat or not eat to stop feeling this way is fine by me.
I am deeply sick of thinking about food, FYI.
Today was Anya's 7-year checkup, and I asked the doctor about her digestive issues. I'd thus far chalked everything up to her less-than-stellar diet (she doesn't eat only chicken nuggets or anything crazy like that, but she's hardly eating a balanced diet); however, that's the same thing my mom thought about me, and now look at me. So I thought it was best to ask.
The doctor thought it'd be a good idea to keep a food diary for a bit. Track her food intake, her mood, and her symptoms, and see if we can't identify her triggers. As I've come to realize I wasn't doing low FODMAP right the last time around, I'm doing a food diary with her. I created a simple chart in Word and printed it out -- color-coded (blues for me, rainbow shades for her) so we can keep things straight. I've included her in the creation process, so we're in agreement that it covers what it needs to without being overly time consuming. And I've added it to our nightly to-do list.
I know this is but the first step. Even if this helps us pinpoint triggers (and, in my case, helps me stay on the low FODMAP track), we still need to deal with our collective lack of chill -- right now I'm thinking daily meditation and yoga, plus some semi-regular exercise, but everything hinges upon what we can work in when. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, though. For now, we'll try this diary for a couple of months and see how it goes.
I keep slipping into this mindset in which I convince myself that even though I find myself sensitive to certain foods, that doesn't mean I can't eat them. So I'm writing this in the hopes that it will serve as a reminder when I find myself tempted to cheat.
Though I have in the past reacted to rice, I ate for dinner the night before last and lunch yesterday some (absolutely freaking delish) GF potato gnocchi. I told myself that I wouldn't react as badly to it because it was gluten free. I had an upset stomach all afternoon yesterday, and by evening my stomach was swollen to the point that it was bunched up under my chest. (I'm sitting at the far low end of the recommended weight/BMI for my height; I don't have a pot belly by any stretch of the imagination.)
This morning, upon rising, I found myself unable to fit into any but my biggest pants. My lower back hurt bad enough to make getting out of bed a challenge, and my abdomen was wracked with a percussive pain. My wedding rings, which are loose enough to spin, are leaving marks on me, as are the legs of my (baggy) shorts. My ankles are swollen. My stomach is queasy. I am tired and distracted. And, of course, I'm having digestive issues.
The gnocchi wasn't *that* good.
Of the ingredient list on the gnocchi, two ingredients are in question: The rice flour and the sulfites. I have in the past reacted to rice, though I don't know if it was this badly. I have not yet tracked sulfites. I will keep a closer eye on them in the future.
I will also try my hand at homemade gnocchi, made with potato flour this time. I haven't reacted to potatoes thus far. Hopefully I get to keep them.