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Month: May 2020

Low FODMAP-ing in a Pandemic

2020 has definitely been THE YEAR for all the weird stuff to happen – last year’s concussion bonanza wasn’t nearly as bad in retrospect. Grocery shopping already was a weird time, and I was recently diagnosed with a medical condition that has me eating a low FODMAP diet in order to properly control my symptoms.

FODMAPs stand for Fermentable Oligo, Di, Mono saccharides and Polyols. Essentially short-chain carbohydrates make my innards exceptionally mad and the results are not fun. It explains why I have felt somewhat better when I ate gluten-free (gluten has fructan which I was reacting to) and keto (knocks out a lot of those carbs). A low FODMAP diet is best undertaken with a registered dietitian, and has three parts – elimination, reintroduction/challenge, and integration.

It is not for weight loss but rather for managing GI disorders. FODMAPs are found things like wheat, garlic, onion, cow milk, beans, mushrooms, apples, etc. Monash University in Australia has been the leader in FODMAP research, and has designed and extensively studied the diet.

With things still spotty in the grocery stores and a rather hefty list of things to avoid (short-term), you can imagine the fun I’ve been having lately in the food department.

I am 1) not working with a FODMAP informed dietitian (con of living in a rural state) and 2) marching through reintroduction stage so please feel free to take this with a grain of salt and always consult your doctor, this is not medical advice, etc.

But here’s what I’ve been doing lately to make sure I stay low FODMAP.

1. Get Monash’s FODMAP App. It’s $9 (one-time payment) and 10000% worth it. Monash is always testing foods for their FODMAP-iness and updating the app with their results. In addition to the list of foods and their level of FODMAP-iness and serving size (because that’s important too), there’s also a bunch of other information including a walk-through of reintroduction for people like me including how to do it, which foods to use for each group of FODMAPs, and a diary to track symptoms. I use the app constantly.

2. Make menu plans. If you don’t plan your menus already, you should start now. And since FODMAPs are beneficial for everyone, my family shouldn’t eat low FODMAP with me and I should also eat some level of FODMAPs (just not enough to make me sick). Each week I make 2 plans – they’re often the same foods, but meals that I can adapt for me. Like stir-fry. Same with tacos, chili (no beans which is an abomination), and spaghetti.

3. Thrive Market Membership! Since I live in the land that time forgot, we have hardly any low FODMAP items beyond Kellogg’s cereals. Fody Foods makes low FODMAP condiments, which I buy through Thrive Market. I also buy things like gluten-free noodles, since those typically are sold out locally.

4. Have a backup plan. When we have busy nights and I don’t want to cook but can’t eat Pizza Hut, I need to have a backup plan of something. Anything. I’ve found quick things like egg and ham scrambles work, or Costco’s rotisserie chicken in a pinch. I’ve found I need to have backup plans for meals, because sometimes the store won’t have something like GF noodles that I need, or the GF noodles they do have have something FODMAP-y in them, or – as I recently discovered – chickpeas destroy me so anything from them is not happening. I’m trying to build a little stockpile of GF noodles that I can tolerate because GUESS WHAT – the fructan in wheat also destroys me (but not as bad as chickpeas).

5. Get comfortable with low FODMAP recipes. I’m starting to be able to adjust recipes into low FODMAP, but still need a lot of help, especially since I’m still working out my triggers and trigger amounts. Some blogs that I’ve found exceptionally helpful are:

6. Read all! The! Labels! Seriously, read everything meticulously. It gets old and shopping takes forever (when I don’t do grocery pickup) but it’s so needed because things that you don’t expect are FODMAP-y can have them. My chili powder – it’s JUST chili powder on the front label, but the ingredient label shows that it has garlic and onion powder as well as chili powder. Just because it says it’s “chili powder” doesn’t mean it is. (I also found garlic and onion powder in my peanuts which were just sold as “roasted peanuts” – not flavored with anything). I’ve been trying to eat non-processed foods whenever possible and just keep it as easy as I can since while the grocery stores are starting to stay better stocked, it really is a hit and miss game.

I still have a ways to go through before I hit integration but the relief I’ve felt already has been immense and it is so worth it to have to do all this, even in the midst of a pandemic and essentially making two different dinners. But I will be ecstatic when I hit integration and I know what I can and can’t eat and in what quantity, and hopefully meals become a bit easier to manage!

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A Couple Things That Have Caught My Eye: Neuralink Update and Focusing During a Pandemic

A much awaited update about Neuralink! I am so excited to listen to this in detail. From what I’ve heard so far it sounds amazing. Right now it sounds like the goal of Neuralink is to fix what is broken with regards to the brain or body, like poor eyesight. Imagine what could this could do for things like paralysis or neurodegenerative conditions like MS or Parkinson’s. This interview was recorded today so it’s nice and fresh. I’m excited to listen in depth tonight and see what other details Elon is willing to give.

(Also it’s nice to see that he’s kind of settled down some and hopefully he stops being such a fruit loop about the pandemic. Hopefully his new baby – who has a normal name if you can decode the name released to the public – will help reground him.)

Speaking of the pandemic, this article about focusing during the pandemic should be required reading right now. I’ve seen this in my kids, in my husband, and in myself. I know I feel perpetually on edge because I know there’s a “silent threat” floating around and it’s really hard for me to relax. Of course focusing on higher level things like education is hard. The biggest homeschool takeaway right now is just take things one day at a time. We are just now digging into history because earlier this week we just couldn’t handle it.

Planning a week out is great but in a way almost futile, because everyone’s mental health is so over the map it’s hard to see what will happen on any given day. I’ve had to learn to be kind to myself – this is NOT the time to try and check off everything. If anything, this is the time to rely on the organic learning environment as much as possible.

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The Week Ahead: Phase 1 Reopening, Adding History, and More

Last week was the first official week of “reopening” for my state. Phase 1 reopening meant:

  • healthy people no longer need to shelter in place, but people at risk need to continue to do so
  • some businesses can reopen with restrictions
  • masks strongly recommended
  • no gatherings larger than 10 people

So far our Covid cases have appeared to hold steady which is encouraging, however I tend to send a side-eye because I haven’t really been able to get a grasp on the current state of our testing situation. Is it stable because we’re testing enough or is it stable because we aren’t?

Nevertheless, this week we will return to one in-person therapy appointment: occupational therapy. Of all the therapy appointments we have, OT has been the only one which has been the hardest to convert to telehealth. I spoke with the OT on Friday and we went through the clinic’s procedures for doing in-person appointments for those who want them, and we are comfortable with what they have set up. All of our other appointments will continue to stay in telehealth – some like speech require touching faces for cues and others have a lot of people coming and going in the clinic and we don’t feel quite comfortable with that kind of a situation yet.

This week I’d also like to fold in History to our scholastic line-up, in addition to math and phonics. Eventually we will have a routine in place that won’t feel overwhelming, which was my overall goal of dealing with homeschool and a pandemic simultaneously.

Finally, I came across this video titled “Massimo Pigliucci on Stoicism, Ethics, Transhumanism, and the Singularity”. If this isn’t a video that is pretty much IT for me right now, I don’t know what is.

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