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Category: Medical Drama

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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2019 = Dumpster Fire

Time for a monthly update! 😀

At the beginning of December I had surgery to remove the rogue organ. Happily, the surgery was successful and everything came back benign. We have spent most of December recovering, working on celebrating the holidays, and just decompressing.

One thing we did differently this year was to celebrate the winter solstice, or at least pause and note that the days will gradually be getting longer. I tend to have seasonal depression each winter and the post Christmas/New Year’s let down typically is the hardest on me. January 2019 was full of snow and we all went stir-crazy in a way; and I’m hoping that shifting our focus mentally from “each day is a slightly longer day” as opposed to “each day is another day closer to insanity” will help make the seasonal depression not as bad. We’ll see if January 2020 also brings us a plethora of snow.

For the solstice we lit a metric ton of candles and ate dinner by candlelight. The kids adored it and it was a lovely little nod to the return of the sunlight.

From now until we resume school in January, I’m working on the schedule and reflecting on the last six months. One thing I have wanted to do for a while is shift our schooling focus from the traditional school calendar (August – May) to align with the regular calendar (January – December). I have this fever dream of working from January – Thanksgiving, then spending Thanksgiving to New Year’s resting, planning, reflecting, and so on. January would start a new “grade” for the kids in terms of work and books, but they would get a new “grade” with their traditionally schooled counterparts in the fall to make it easier for things like 4H and swimming lessons, or anything else that tends to be grouped by grade.

Montana requires us a specific amount of hours to be completed per year, which the law defines as basically the fiscal year. So as long as I hit my hours in the correct time frame; I can school whenever and however I want, follow whatever schedule I want and so on.

I haven’t fully committed to this idea yet but it definitely is appealing. New books and a fresh beginning to align with the New Year may also help us all from going bonkers during the winters as well.

Circling around to the surgery, I’m finally starting to feel much more normal. I’m still tired a lot and still haven’t been cleared to return to ALL of my activities; but I can drive, my incisions have healed enough that I can stop wearing jammie pants everywhere, and I feel much less brain fog from the anesthesia. I still have lingering concussion symptoms, mostly in the form of headaches (which I can tell are from the concussion as I have to take acetaminophen and ibuprofen to stop the pain), but hopefully 2020 will be the year I get my brain back to mostly normal.

I hope everyone has had a good holidays and that 2020 brings in a lot of good changes and whatever else is needed to be a happy, healthy human.


This is probably the wildest homeschool year yet

I love how my last post here was our curriculum choices following the hit-and-run. Suffice to say, those choices were woefully optimistic.

In addition to the soreness and fatigue from the accident, I ended up spending six weeks in physical therapy so I could turn my neck again without pain, and I ended up having a concussion. I still have concussion symptoms – memory loss, brain fog, word-find problems, and so on. I’m improving slowly, but you can imagine how that threw a giant wrench in my homeschool plans.

I decided this was going to be THE YEAR that I got all my check-ups, eye appointments, dental cleanings, etc done. I had been having symptoms of an issue for 2 years, but thought “eh, I’ll deal with it later”. I finally decided to look into that, and it turns out that I have (what I call on Instagram) “Something Interesting That Shouldn’t Be There”. Initially we were going to take out Something Interesting That Shouldn’t Be There, but looking at a variety of factors; we decided to remove Something Interesting and the organ it’s attached to so that we don’t have future Something Interestings.

Last week I had a biopsy of the organ to make sure we aren’t dealing with something Serious, and also to have a clear plan on how to remove said organ.

And that brings us to this week.

Naturally, alllll my plans made this past summer were out the window. I had to massively LET GO of expectations and just do what we could, when we could. In addition to all my health stuff, we still have a plethora of recurring appointments each week. There were many weeks where I felt like a colossal failure.

But despite all this health stuff, PT, the appointments – the kids are making great growth. We have basically done whatever school I feel up to doing whenever I feel up to doing it. It’s worked well.

My child with learning disabilities is almost on grade level for reading and math. That child has been getting explicit and intense instruction on reading and math since April.

My sixth grader has been exploring philosophy as a possible career choice. And she’s built some interesting games in Python.

My second grader is discovering that math is fun.

My fourth grader is discovering that reading is fun.

All three kids won special awards at 4H for their first year accomplishments AND they received money won from their blue ribbons at the Fair.

The kids have all pulled together to help me with keeping the house picked up, helped out with each other, and have spent a lot of time playing with one another.

I have thrown out using weeks because that was making me freak out – in Montana we have to measure hours anyways. I’m eyeballing some exams for December, or January depending on when the surgery is. This more relaxed schedule has been SO helpful.

With the surgery looming, I have ample time to get all hands on deck. Planning out menus and shopping lists so my husband can take it over without having to worry, getting the school planned (hello loop scheduling) so my autistic kiddo (and all the kids) can have some semblance of normality in a really abnormal time. Getting the house as cleaned up as possible and then teaching everyone how to maintain it.

Honestly I had beaten myself up massively over the last month or so for “not doing enough” but in retrospect we have done SO much. The kids have had a lot of learning about the judicial system, how insurance works, the human body – all stuff I couldn’t have planned out. They have all shown growth in the subjects we are hitting. It’s incredible.

I plan on detailing what we’ll be doing homeschool wise for the surgery, once I figure out when that is. If there’s one thing I’ve had time to do, it’s think about what needs to get done vs “the extras”.

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