Archive | April, 2012

Fructose & Fructans: Just 2 Pieces of the FODMAPS Puzzle

22 Apr

FODMAPS is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, & Mono-saccharides And PolyolS. What?!  In simple terms, these are carbohydrates that some people malabsorb.  Included under this FODMAPS umbrella: lactose, fructose, fructans, polyols, and galactans.  Some folks with FructMal may find additional relief by limiting other FODMAPS on top of the fructose and fructans restrictions.

I mentioned in an earlier post that some studies have linked a low-fructose diet with IBS symptom relief.  The symptoms of IBS are similar to those of FructMal: constipation &/or diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain.  IBS is considered a functional rather than structural disorder.  This means there isn’t a problem with the intestines themselves but in the way in which they respond to stimuli.  It’s all about hypersensitivity.  Basically, your digestive system is broken.  :/ What a person without IBS might experience as a “bit of gas”, a person with IBS may feel as knives trying to stab their way out of their insides.  This is not an exaggeration.  The pain is real whether or not it can be shown on an X-Ray.

A reduced FODMAPS diet has been implicated in the dietary treatment of IBS.  What does this mean in layman’s terms?  Limiting/avoiding the following types of foods may help ease some of the uncomfortable digestive symptoms associated with a touchy tum tum:

Lactose: Milk is the biggest culprit for problems with this category.  Hard cheeses & yogurts are sometimes more tolerable since they contain bacteria to help partially digest some of the lactose.

Fructose & Fructans: You should already be an expert on these categories! 🙂

Galactans:  Cabbage, lentils, & Beans! Beans! The magical fruit…you know the rest ;-).  Everybody malabsorbs beans to a certain extent due to inherent indigestible fibers.  The trick to incorporating beans is to build a tolerance to ’em over time.  Start by eating smaller portions on a regular basis.  Through consistent exposure, your body can actually begin to develop more of the enzymes necessary to digest them.  Isn’t the body AMAZING?!

Polyols: Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol (which we’ve already talked about) and others such as xylitol found in mushrooms, certain fruits, & some sugar-free gums

This is a bare bones description of the FODMAPS diet for IBS.  In general, limited portions and spacing (such as with my current FructMal diet) are key strategies that can be applied to all FODMAPS.  The more FODMAPS consumed at 1 time or within 1 day, the greater the chance for symptoms.

The book IBS-Free At Last! by Patsy Catsos provides all of the tools a person wishing to undertake a FODMAPS elimination diet might need.  An updated second edition was just released this month.  For more information, visit:


Catsos, P. (2008) IBS-Free At Last. Pgs.19-21.; 60-65.


FructMal Friendly Feast: Hearty Lentil Soup + Buckwheat Sesame Crackers with Hummus (kinda)

20 Apr

Woo hoo!  That’s a lot of recipes all rolled into one post.  Are you excited?  You should be!

Ahh soup.  Who doesn’t find comfort in a big bowl of hot soup?  I have yet to discover a store-bought vegetable broth sans onions.  I’m sure it’s possible to make a decent homemade stock without onions or garlic, but I’ve chosen to take the lazier route.  Instead, I’ve been seeking out soup recipes that do not contain stock/broth in the first place.  Blissful Bites is a vegan cookbook by Christy Morgan chock full of onion & garlic-free recipes.  Here is a gem I discovered from within its pages…

Hearty Lentil Soup 


*Tbsp sesame oil

*Pinch sea salt

*Pinch of asafetida (optional) – This ingredient was not mentioned in the original recipe.

*2 medium carrots, chopped

*2 celery stalks, diced

*1 Tbsp oregano

*7 cups water

*2 bay leaves

*1 cup green lentils, washed & drained

*1″ piece of fresh ginger, minced

*2 Tbsp tamari

*2 Tbsp miso

*2 Tbsp lemon juice

*Parsley (optional, for garnish)

Method: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add carrot, celery, oregano, (asafetida if desired) & sea salt & saute for a few minutes.  Stir in water, bay leaves, lentils, and ginger.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer with lid until lentils are tender ~30-40 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add tamari and continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Remove bay leaves.  Turn off heat.  In a small bowl, dilute miso with a little cooking liquid.  Stir miso & lemon juice into soup and let sit for 5 minutes.  Serve, garnished with parsley.

If you are anything like me, you also like crackers in your soup!  When I was a kid, chicken noodle soup with Saltine crackers was a diet staple  (Salt city!)  Anyway, since wheat is not allowed on my FructMal diet, I have replaced Saltines with homemade buckwheat crackers (Buckwheat is NOT wheat?! Confusing I know!)  I found the following recipe during my candida diet in The Yeast Connection Cookbook by William G. Crook.  They taste reminiscent of the sesame sticks I also used to enjoy as a young tot.  Mmm…yummy nostalgia…

Buckwheat Crackers


*1 cup buckwheat flour

*1/4 cup arrowroot

*1/4 tsp salt

*3 Tbsp sesame seeds (I used a mixture of white and black sesame seeds)

*2 Tbsp cold-pressed sesame oil (I used oil from the top of my unstirred raw tahini ;-))

*1/2 cup water

*Sea salt (optional, for sprinkling)

Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix the flour, starch, salt & seeds in a medium sized bowl.  Make a “well” in the center of the flour mixture & pour in the oil & water.  Stir with a fork.  As the flour absorbs the liquid, the dough will start to clump into a ball.  Oil the center of a cookie sheet.  Leave 1″ of the outer edge oil-free.  Scrape the ball of dough onto the middle of the cookie sheet.  Pat it into a flat rectangle.  Place piece of parchment paper down on the dough.  Roll dough out very thin.  Cut the dough into 2″ squares (or whatever shapes you prefer).  Salt the tops lightly if desired.  Place crackers in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F.  Remove from the oven in 12 minutes, and lift off the crispy crackers around the outer edge.  Put them on a wire rack to cool.  Separate remaining crackers with a spatula.  Turn oven off and return those crackers to the oven for 10-20 minutes until they’re as crisp as you like.

Don’t go dumping all of those crackers into your soup just yet!  Save some for this delectable hummus!  I wanted to make some hummus the other day and realized that I was fresh out of lemons… & olive oil… & I couldn’t add any garlic.  I have already mastered hummus without garlic.  But hummus without olive oil OR garlic OR lemon juice?  Well, nothing is going to stand between me and my hummus!  I was up to the challenge.  I’m happy to report it was a success!  This hummus is 100% my creation and tastes absolutely delicious (even though it’s missing half of the traditional hummus ingredients).  Plus, it’s lower in fat and fructose (since I omitted half the oil and all of the fruit juice).  I rock!  Yeah baby!

Hummus (kinda) – Makes ~1 + 1/2 cups


*1 15-oz can or 1 + 2/3 cups prepared chickpeas

(Note:  I recommend homemade beans for the best results.  I make giant batches of chickpeas and freeze them in individual portions.  One trick I’ve learned is to cover the beans with water so that the flavor will not be affected by freezer burn.  The night before you plan to make a batch of hummus, pull a jar out of the freezer [or use a microwave in a pinch].  Whether you are using canned or home-prepared, do not drain the liquid.  You’ll need this starchy stuff to bulk up the batch!)

*2 Tbsp tahini (I used raw, but roasted should work)

*2 Tbsp macadamia nut oil (You can of course use olive oil if you have it)

*1 tsp coriander (for a hint of lemon)

*1/2 tsp cumin (for a slight kick)

*1/2 tsp salt

Method: Blend all of the ingredients until smooth.

(Note: It’s best to let the flavors meld for at least an hour before devouring.)

Yes!  Mastered!  (I get a little excited about my hummus…call me a cliche hippy vegan if you must! :-))  Now get cooking/baking/blending and have yourself a FructMal friendly feast!

BBQs, Wedding Cake, & Easter Pie…Oh My!

15 Apr

Now that Spring is in full swing, I have lurched into the world of social functions that revolve around eating.  Some days my attitude is better than others towards this verdict.  Up until recently, I successfully dodged most communal munching opportunities.  I have yet to eat at a restaurant in 2012.  It’s too complicated and risky.  Processed food is a witch’s brew and figuring out exactly what’s in your food is an exhausting quest.

Following a vegan FructMal diet is one that requires planning galore.  Two weeks ago I spent almost an entire day preparing a bunch of meals to get me through the upcoming social functions.  I made tempeh bacon to throw on the grill for BBQs.  I made “cheesy” broccoli (before knowing better) potpies with chickpea gravy and homemade barley buckwheat crusts to get me through Easter.  I learned to enjoy black coffee (to avoid wasting any of my daily sugar allowance).

BBQs on a diet: When we grill at our house, it’s easy to control the types of foods that are prepared.  Derek would make one batch of potatoes with onions and a separate onion-free batch for me.  The first BBQ I attended this year at a friend’s house was a little rough.  Someone brought homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Even if I decided to let down my vegan guard for a cookie, my FructMal diet wouldn’t allow the wheat & brown sugar surely lurking inside.  Instead, I ate a concotion of dill, lemon juice, and lima beans with ruffles potato chips for dessert.  Not my first choice by any means but still tasty.

Easter on a diet:  I went to my grandma’s for Easter.  This was my first full-blown family oriented function of my food intolerant year.

When it was dinner time, I surveyed the assortment of prepared dishes to scope out any possible “safe” foods.

Not A One!

Laid out before me: turkey, ham, gravy, mashed potatoes made with sour cream, cream-based broccoli salad, fresh pineapple (a small amount could be considered safe but I wasn’t going to have any room in my daily sugar allowance for such a luxury), applesauce, & wheat buns.  Hmmm….

I purposely sat back while people piled their plates full of things I couldn’t eat.  Then I coyly took my pot pie out the freezer and popped it in the microwave.  I sat at the “reject” table as I labeled it this year.  In the past, it was known as the “kid’s table”.  Kids… rejects… same thing! 😉  Really it was just a small table set at the end of the larger table for overflow purposes.  All of the “kids” have grown up, so its modern inhabitants are based on luck of the draw.  I had a mixture of emotions in this position.  On the one hand, I felt even more disconnected from most of my family.  I couldn’t share the food or dining experience.  On the other hand, I was grateful to be separated from the larger group in the interest of avoiding a question and answer session in relation to my special food.  This year the “reject” table consisted of me, my grandma, and my uncle.  My grandma was very troubled by my inability to eat anything that was offered.  Well of course!  She’s a grandma, and that’s her job!  More often than not it’s those who are trying to feed me, rather than myself, that I feel sorry for.  She saw me eat my pot pie but worried that I would still be hungry.  Here’s where I had one of those aha moments.  On any other day, if someone watched me eat a pot pie for lunch, they wouldn’t fret over my lack of overindulgence.  But you only ate 1 pot pie!  How will you make it until supper?!  How privileged we are to feel deprived when only allowed to eat a reasonably sized meal while others stuff their faces.

My uncle asked me if I ever made sure that the diagnosis I received requiring me to eat this way was accurate.  Wow I thought.  Why can’t more people in my family read my blog so I don’t have to explain myself all the time?!  Anyway, I went on to explain that no doctor ever told me that I had to eat in a certain fashion and that I was in the midst of an experiment.  My ally told me that she gets tired of having to explain her condition to people all the time.  After about 3 1/2 months of special diets, I can attest to this one!    Everyone wants to know why you are/are not eating a certain way.  Not that I can blame them.  I am as guilty as anyone in this regard.  Food is intimate and alluring.  Sharing meals is an integral part of family/friend/significant other bonding.  Think of how many memories you have that involve specific foods intertwined with happy days.  I think of the pancakes and bacon my dad would prepare for me at 2 in the morning after a band gig, the pecan pie I shared with my mom for breakfast on Christmas, and the homemade chicken dumpling soup and rolls of my grandmothers.  These types of memories have the potential to be tarnished by food restrictions.

I was feeling particularly vulnerable on Easter towards dessert.  There was one thing I decided that I MUST have.  That one thing was a chocolate covered peanut butter egg.  Holiday themed Reese’s peanut butter treats are a vice of mine.  In theory, a person with fructose malabsorption could probably tolerate one Reese’s peanut butter egg as long as other fructose sources were carefully monitored for the remainder of the day.  Reese’s peanut butter cups do not contain any high fructose corn syrup and even have a bit of dextrose (that glucose that helps the body to digest fructose).  However, there are milk derived ingredients involved, so on the vegan front I was screwed.  It is milk chocolate afterall.  I solved this by preparing a homemade vegan dark chocolate version to bring along.  I was happy to have my dark chocolate peanut butter egg, but there was blueberry, pumpkin, and pecan pie to tempt me.  Pie is my other vice.  (Okay, maybe I just have a vice for sweets!)  Anyway, there is no ending to this story really.  I didn’t eat any pie, and I wasn’t happy about it.

Wedding on a diet:  Last night I went to my first wedding “on a diet”.  I planned ahead, assuming that there wouldn’t be anything there that I could eat.  I had dinner around 5:30, so I was good to go for a 6:00 wedding.  Technically, there were a few things there that I could eat, but I wasn’t interested in those options.  Appetizers that were offered that I could have eaten (sticking to my vegan FructMal guns) included: raw cauliflower, carrots, and radishes.  My digestive system is not a fan of raw veggies on an empty stomach and my taste buds are not impressed with plain veggies, so why bother?  Acceptable dinner options: yams, corn, and roasted potatoes (not sure whether or not they were prepared with butter).  If I were hungry enough, I wouldn’t have let the possibility of butter get in my way.  However, since I planned ahead, I was able to calmly observe others eating without feeling sorry for myself.  It can be hard for some to imagine passing up on free food, but I’m getting better at this all the time. A friend of mine, noticing the lack of a plate in front of me, suggested I “take a day off!”.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard that one…

If my ally decided to “take the day off”, she would have spent the remainder of the reception doubled over in pain, alone in the bathroom.  I’ll come clean right now and admit that I will be taking one day off this year.  That day is my wedding day.  Everything else is fair game: my bachelorette party, honeymoon, Christmas.  If I choose to take several days off, how far could my understanding of living with these conditions really stretch?

Near our table was a candy bar and a table displaying the arrangement of wedding cake.  My sweet tooth waxes and wanes.  When it wanes, it can ignore free peanut M&Ms.  When it waxes, bitch/cry baby alert!  Luckily, I was in the waning stage.  I was more interested in dancing.  Dancing like a crazy person makes me feel better than any piece of cake ever has.

Philosophical Blurbs: People could argue that I make this harder on myself by combining my special diet with a vegan preference, and that would be a fair assessment.  It’s true.  I am eating vegan by my own choosing, but I think it adds an interesting element to the research too.  I almost look at it as an evaluation of  the challenge of mind vs body.  How long can we fight with our what our bodies demand and what our mind has made up?  If my body refuses to accept certain things and my mind refuses to accept others, what is left to eat?  There is not a perfect one size fits all diet.  I know a girl with peanut & nut allergies who also suffers from oral allergy syndrome in which fresh fruits and vegetables make her mouth burn.  Can a die hard vegan rightfully furrow his/her brow at this girl’s decision to eat meat?  There are some people who would demand such things of themselves and others in the name of their philosophies.  I am not one of those people.

I am not against the principle of eating meat.  Some vegans are and that’s good for them.  I believe that humans have evolved to be omnivores, and that it’s very possible that animal products contain nutrients that enable us to be our most nourished selves.  My beef lies with the meat factory system.  I believe in humanity as well as survival of the fittest.  I think if other animals are on board with hunting, we shouldn’t have to feel guilty for similar practices.  Ultimately, every species is doing the best they can for themselves and their loved ones.  No one is solely responsible for being a martyr in this model.

Eating disorder?! Sometimes I worry that people will notice my refusal of food and attribute it to an eating disorder.  I won’t deny that I have a weird relationship with food (I self medicate like the masses), but I can assure everyone that I am not/nor ever would be anorexic.  I eat regular meals.  I just don’t eat recreationally the way I used to.  The only time I essentially “starved” myself (other than that 24 hour fast) was during an elimination diet.  I was having constant stomach aches and finally came to the conclusion that I’d rather be hungry than be in pain all the time.  I was afraid to eat.  This is a harsh reality of the food intolerant world and I know my ally went through something similar around the time of her FructMal diagnosis.  Some of the personal insight I hope to gain on this journey is whether or not a certain pattern of eating makes me feel like my best self.  Ultimately what I have learned so far is that food matters, BUT it’s not everything.  Sleep, exercise, stress…these factors must also be considered in the attainment of optimum health.  I am still able to enjoy a wedding, a BBQ, and a holiday with food restrictions.  When I’m in the right state of mind, I even enjoy the enlightenment these restrictions bring.  If you can’t enjoy these types of occasions without the comfort of mindless eating, you might want to reanalyze your relationship with food.

FructMal Recipe: No Bake Yum Yum Breakfast Bars

7 Apr

These might be more accurately described as dessert than appropriate breakfast fare, but who am I kidding?  Everyone wants sugar and fat for breakfast, so here it is!  I’ve earned my sugar dammit! 😉 Not to mention, many “healthy” breakfast cereals are full of refined grains and high fructose corn syrup.  At least the nutrients in this breakfast are from food rather than factories.

My ally gave me a rough idea as to the ingredients for the following recipe.  She often adds rice protein powder and dextrose to hers, but I left these out.  I played around and created a version that yields ~1 TBSP sweetener per serving.  That’s below the allowance!  Enjoy 😀 (But only 1 at a time for you FructMal folks!)

No Bake Yum Yum Breakfast Bars

Makes 8 bars/servings


*1 cup uncooked scottish oats (My ally uses plain instant oatmeal)

*1 cup ground flax seed/meal

*1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter (with no added sugar)

*1/4 cup raw almond butter

*1/4 cup brown rice syrup

*1/4 cup of REAL maple syrup (The traditional Mrs. Butterworth’s pancake syrup = high fructose corn syrup + caramel color.  Don’t use this!)

*1 tsp cinnamon

*1/4 tsp vanilla powder

*Splash of unsweetened soy milk (optional)

Method: Combine oats, flax meal, cinnamon & vanilla powder in a medium bowl.  (You can use 1 tsp vanilla extract instead or omit altogether if you wish.)  Stir in nut butters & syrups.  I added a splash of soy milk to make the mixture more cohesive.  You could substitute water/other unsweetened beverage.  Push “dough” down into glass baking dish (11″X7″ is the size I used), evenly distributing across the bottom. (Note: Parchment paper is a Godsend for such a task!  Simply place a sheet of parchment paper between you and the goo while pressing.)  Cut into 8 equal bars.  Use a spatula to lift each bar out of the dish.  Individually wrap each bar in parchment paper and use your fingers to shape however you desire.  (I made some long and skinny and others short and fat.  I tried to tell Derek that they were all technically the same size, but when I offered him a fatter bar in lieu of a taller one, he got suspicious and demanded the other.  Nutcase!  Those optical illusions…they’ll get ya! :))  You can eat one immediately, but these are most amazing after being stored in the freezer for awhile!  There’s so much sugar and fat in them that they don’t really freeze.  Their shapes are simply solidified and reinforced making them a bit easier to eat.

Feel free to play around with the recipe.  You could use all of one type of nut butter, 1/2 cup mashed banana in place of the syrup, or add some unsweetened shredded coconut, unsweetened cocoa powder, etc.  You could even chop a bar up and eat it with milk for a new take on cereal.  The options are endless!  The next time I make these (because there WILL be a next time), I think I’ll try soaking the oats overnight and/or cooking them beforehand.  The bars taste great as they are, but to receive the most nutrition out of grains, it’s best to soak and cook ’em.  Let me know what kind of creations you come up with! 🙂

An Update Already?

6 Apr

Sorry.  This is not the recipe I promised you…

Just a quick correction to the previous post: cooking with large chunks of onion or garlic is no longer considered okay as fructans are water soluble.  I was looking at the first edition of the book (printed in 2008) when I reported this to be a safe practice and failed to notice this announcement on the website. :-/  Garlic-infused cooking oil is okay though!

What the Heck is FructMal?

6 Apr

As mentioned before, I ate A LOT of fruit during March.  I’ll have to reign this habit in A LOT for April.  This month will be different in terms of its execution.  Up until this point, I’ve relied mostly on the research that I’ve compiled and my own discretion for designing each diet.  For this diet, I will have an ally!  A person whom I am very close to suffers from severe fructose malabsorption (FructMal for short).  I use the word “suffer”, because it’s appropriate.  She has shared personal firsthand accounts with me as to the numerous complications such a condition demands.  No restaurant outings for her.  I have already begun to pick her brain for some clarifications and recipe suggestions.  I also asked her to let me know if she notices any blatantly false information or advice that I might offer on the subject.  Unfortunately, dietitian credentials alone don’t mean much in terms of food intolerance knowledgability.  During the course of my college studies, we talked about celiac disease (an extreme form of gluten intolerance) and very briefly about lactose intolerance.  The discussion ended there.

Prepare yourself for a chemistry lesson…

Still there? 😉  Good!  Let’s get started.

Fructose, also known as fruit sugar, is found in more foods than the Average Joe might realize.  It is estimated that up to 30% of the Western population has some form of fructose malabsorption, a digestive disorder in which there are deficient fructose carriers within the small intestine.  As a result, the fructose from foods is not absorbed properly & numerous symptoms may manifest.  These symptoms may include, but are not limited to: nausea, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, vomiting, and/or even depression.  Research studies have found a low-fructose diet to offer relief to a large percentage of those afflicted with IBS.  My ally also has fibromyalgia and finds that fructose aggravates it.

Fructose malabsorption VS lactose intolerance:  While the symptoms seem comparable, FructMal and lactose intolerance are very different conditions.  Lactose is what’s known as a disaccharide (composed of 2 sugars).  A glucose molecule + a galactose molecule = lactose.   Lactose intolerance is due to an intestinal enzyme (lactase) deficiency.  Lactase is responsible for breaking this glucose-galactose bond.  There are digestive enzymes on the market to help with the digestion of lactose.  Fructose, however, is a monosaccharide.  Since it is already in its simplest form, fructose is not acted upon by any digestive enzymes.  It is absorbed (or not!) as is.  Another difference that can be identified is in the restrictions required.  In the case of fructose malabsorption, many different types of foods must be taken into consideration and possibly removed from the diet.  Consider our food system and its pervasive use of high-fructose corn syrup!  For lactose intolerance, remove the dairy and you’re golden.

I was able to identify one parallel between lactose intolerance, fructose malabsorption, and histamine intolerance.  If you can remember back to January (if not, check out the archives!), histamine intolerance (as well as lactose intolerance) exists on a spectrum.  Fructose malabsorption is the same way.  Some FructMal folks can handle more fructose-containing foods than others before the appearance of symptoms.

A completely separate condition, known as hereditary fructose intolerance, is caused by a deficiency of liver enzymes in which fructose ingestion can ultimately lead to kidney failure.  While hereditary fructose intolerance is certainly more dangerous in the immediate sense, fructose malabsorption can cause a lot of stress for affected individuals.  Quality of life can be greatly diminished with such a diagnosis (discovered through the use of a hydrogen breath test).

An interesting tidbit about fructose malabsorption is that you have to be a bit of a scientist in your approach to meal planning.  The allowed fruits for this particular diet are ones in which their glucose content is equal to or greater than their fructose content.  Glucose helps the body to digest fructose.  On the other end of the gamut, sorbitol (a sugar alcohol that’s naturally found in some fruits such as pears) diminishes the body’s ability to digest fructose.  For example, a peach would be considered favorable in regards to its glucose-fructose ratio but is still considered unacceptable for FructMal individuals due to its sorbitol content.  See?  Science!

Timing & portion sizes are two other factors that can make or break the success of a low-fructose diet.  If you have 1/2 a banana for breakfast, it’s best to wait AT LEAST 2 hours before eating tomato slices on your sandwich.  The acceptable fructose load varies from person to person, but keeping portion sizes of allowed fruits/vegetables small and spaced apart is a worthy strategy for all FructMal sufferers.  If the fructose load is too high, whether or not its balanced with glucose, symptoms may emerge.

This knowledge, along with trial and error, allows a person with fructose malabsorption to make better dietary choices.  For example, my ally uses dextrose powder while making breakfast bars to increase their glucose content.  One blog I read discussed using Sweet Tarts as a medicine of sorts.  Sweet Tarts are practically pure glucose and taken 5-10 minutes before a fructose-rich food can help aid in its digestion.  Finally, a drug you can pop like candy! 😉  This strategy, however may only work for certain fructose-containing foods and will not help with the digestion of fructans (to be explained below).

Like others diets I have followed, there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there as to which foods are appropriate for fructose malabsorption.  This is due mainly to a lack of adequate research.  The diet guidelines below were mostly structured according to the following website & the first edition of the book it references:  This book was written by Patsy Catsos, a registered dietitian who specializes in gastrointestinal health.  She uses the most current research available to provide the following recommendations.  Patsy is also in the process of creating a collection of FructMal appropriate recipes!  Other sources (including my ally) were consulted as well.

Off the Menu: (All bold items are those that I currently eat on a regular basis and will be the hardest for me not to eat!)

*Dairy: all dairy is acceptable, but I’m planning to continue avoiding it

*Grains: wheat as a major ingredient (minor amounts are acceptable such as wheat-derived food additives for example), rye (Wheat and rye contain fructans which are long chains of fructose.  These are often poorly digested in FructMal.  My ally finds that she can tolerate small amounts of refined wheat.  However, for the purposes of my experiment, I will avoid this.)

*Vegetables: leeks, onions (green parts of spring onions are allowed), asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes (1/2 cup globe artichokes are controversial but considered safe by Patsy’s most up-to-date research), shallots, broccoli (All of these veggies are rich in fructans).  Note: It’s considered safe to cook with large pieces of onion or garlic as long as you remove them before eating.  This should allow the fructose malabsorber to infuse their dish with flavor without infusing their insides with pain! -[ Update: Turns out I lied!  Fructans are water soluble.  Don’t try this at home!]

*Fruits: apples (fresh/cider/juice/sauce), pears, dates, green bananas (fructans), figs (except for Indian figs also known as prickly pears), all dried fruit (prunes, raisins, etc.), apricots, peaches (my favorite but not in season yet!), sweet cherries (love!), mangoes, watermelon; all fruit juice is to be avoided except for 1/3 cup portions of orange, grapefruit, lemon, or lime juice.

I guess the easier question for this category is what fruits CAN I eat?: RIPE banana (1/2 medium), blueberries, cranberries, grapefruit (1/2 large), kiwi (1 medium), cantaloupe, pineapple, rhubarb, strawberries, tangelo (1 medium), tomato/tomatillos (1 medium or 1/2 cup), papaya, oranges (1 small), grapes (controversial – some may contain trace amounts of sorbitol which is best avoided), some exotic fruits that I’ve never had: durian, dragon fruit, jack fruit, & rambutan -serving sizes for all fruits = 1/2 cup.

*Meat, poultry, eggs & fish: all are acceptable provided they do not contain any restricted ingredients (such as BBQ sauce made with high-fructose corn syrup!)

*Legumes/beans: all are acceptable provided they do not contain any restricted ingredients (such as molasses found in baked beans)

*Spices & herbs: garlic powder & onion powder (fructans still kickin’ it in the dried/powdered form)

*Condiments: apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, soy sauce (traditionally prepared with wheat, it’s safer to use tamari which is wheat-free soy-sauce)

*Food additives/misc: chicory-based coffee substitute, inulin, FOS, sorbitol [Note: Coconut meat, milk, and cream were previously thought to be unsafe but are now listed as being acceptable.  Most coconut milk that you buy contains guar gum.  This additive can have a laxative-like effect.  Guar gum combined with coconut’s high fat content might leave ANYONE feeling bloated and icky after its consumption.  Try making coconut milk at home instead.  All you need is a bag of dehydrated coconut, hot water, a blender, and some sort of straining device.  Check this out:]

*Fun Stuff: high-fructose corn syrup, honey, agave nectar, molasses, brown sugar, sweet wines, any sweetener in excess.  Acceptable sweeteners in 1 1/2 TBSP portion sizes: maple syrup, marmalade, granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar, raw sugar, dehydrated sugar cane juice, table sugar (sucrose), beet sugar, cane sugar, brown rice syrup.  As for alochol: 4 oz of red or wine wine & unsweetened spirits (such as vodka, gin, & whiskey) are considered safe.

What I Ate My First Day with Fructose Malabsorption:

(Note: Some of the following foods were prepared with shallots & garlic powder before discovering those to be “unsafe”.  With so much conflicting information, it’s hard to make appropriate meal plans at the start of each new diet.  I’ve decided to finish up the leftovers of what I’ve already prepared and then avoid any newly discovered offending foods after that.)

Breakfast: Scottish oats w/ almond butter, cinnamon, & 1 small kiwi

Lunch: Lentil soup made with carrots, celery, shallots, swiss chard, miso, & lemon juice

Supper: Spinach hummus & homemade mock tuna salad w/ corn chips;1/2 of a marinated grilled portabella mushroom; 2 strips of tempeh bacon (YES! FINALLY!) on a portabella mushroom (used as a bun – really good – try it sometime! :)) w/ spinach hummus, 1 slice of tomato, & spinach

Next post: Brown Rice Syrup + Nut Butter Breakfast Bars (recipe idea courtesy of ally :))


Undisclosed ally with years of trial and error under her belt 😀

Catsos, P. (2008) IBS-FREE AT LAST! Pgs. 46,47,48,49,54,61,62-64.

*Cricket… *Cricket… *Cricket

3 Apr

You know on cartoons when they exaggerate silence with the sound of crickets?  That is what I imagined every time I mentally pictured my blog screen.  Let’s see what the guinea pig is up to this week…*Cricket… *Cricket… *Cricket…  Derek and I just moved into our house on the 23rd of March, so things have been a little crazy (understatement).    Sorry I fell off the face of the Earth for a couple of weeks.  In my defense, I didn’t have the internet at my residence for a decent chunk of that span.

It’s time to play catch up again.  To end the suspense for those of you who are unaware, my April diet is fructose malabsorption.  Later in the week I will fill you in on the details.  For now, let’s just focus on wrapping up the Jain diet.

I decided to save the mini raw foods experiment for later.  The dysphagia diet, based on 3 levels of chewing/swallowing difficulty, will only be a 3 week experiment.  I will do the raw foods diet the final week of that month.  Since the Jain diet and raw food diet are both already extremely restrictive, I didn’t want to combine the 2!

Sins to confess: Oh so many.  Where to begin?

The good news is that I almost followed the Jain dietary restrictions 100%.  I know that doesn’t even make sense (60% of the time, it works every time ;-)).  The diet I ate during the month of March was vegan and didn’t include any root vegetables, fermented foods, caffeine, or alcohol.  I also avoided all refined sugar and most sweeteners by my own choosing (why not a little extra self-sacrifice?)  My consumption of one product may have been the culprit of several sins: vanilla soy milk.

Duh Duh Duh!  (Dramatic emphasis) :-O  Sounds so menacing, doesn’t it?!

I drank vanilla soy milk sweetened with malted wheat and barley extract.  Honestly, I still don’t understand quite what that means, but it’s possible that this ingredient would be considered unacceptable by Jain standards.  I don’t know if there is any fermentation/alcohol involved in the extraction process.  I never questioned the vanilla either.  Vanilla extract contains alcohol.  It wasn’t until the final day of the Jain diet that I discovered this mistake.  As I crushed the empty container, I noticed a phrase on the back boasting the company’s use of real vanilla extract.  They claim to be the only soy milk company in the US to use the good stuff.  This is probably why I never questioned it.  Most companies use vanilla flavor (which is alcohol free).  Details Details!  I’m usually so good with those, but I’ve been a little distracted lately.  Damn life…I don’t have time to be on a diet AND have a life.  Sheesh!

While I meant to nix all sweeteners during March, I rationalized buying the vanilla flavored soy milk due to its vitamin & mineral fortification. I haven’t been able to find a fortified unsweetened version.

I also continued to use a Vitamin D3 dropper.  D3 is usually extracted from sheep’s wool and therefore, not vegan.  I didn’t see the practicality in buying Vitamin D2 (vegan version derived from yeast/mushrooms).  Animal products, yeast, and mushrooms are all technically no no’s on the Jain diet.  I’m not giving up my Vitamin D!

The next category of sinning involves the failure of honoring the Jain dietary philosophy.  There was definitely a decent amount of mindless/binge eating this past month.  One night, I ate close to bedtime.  My brain tends to go haywire in the springtime.  Its chemicals have a hard time figuring out how to transition from winter (death) to spring (life).  One way it prefers to cope is by eating its emotions.

Finally, there’s the leftovers rule.  On a few occasions I knowingly ate leftovers from longer than a day prior.  One defense I could always cling to?  If I don’t eat this, it will be thrown out.  That’s not really in line with the ahimsa principle either.  So what’s a girl to do?  Strangely enough, sometimes I overate just to keep in line with the leftovers tenet.  Rigid thinking can be a bitch!

Phew!  Does anybody else find it ironic that I committed the most “sins” on the religious diet?

Caffeine-Free Vanilla Chai:

Here’s your sweet treat recipe of the month.  I used to love to drink black chai tea with milk and sugar.  I was very excited with the results of this vegan tea-free version.  I used the vanilla soy milk (which may or may not be the devil) for the following recipe.  To make sure the recipe is 100% Jain, you could buy a different brand of vanilla soy milk that uses evaporated cane juice and vanilla flavor (rather than extract).

*1 cup vanilla soy milk (or rice/almond/hemp…whatever floats your boat)

*1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

*1/4 tsp ground ginger

*1/4 tsp ground cardamom

*Pinch – 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Bring soy milk to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.  Stir in the spices & simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Strain mixture through cheesecloth/dish towel to remove tiny powdered particles.  (Note: You don’t have to strain the mixture.  I didn’t, but the texture was a bit scratchy and awkward on the throat.)

The original recipe that inspired this one can be found here:

What I ate my last day as a Jain:

Breakfast: Bosc pear; Scottish oats w/ almond butter, cinnamon, ground hemp seed, and dried goji berries.

Lunch: Corn chips w/ homemade spinach hummus (made with cumin instead of garlic)

Supper: Green smoothie (Banana, collard greens, kale, & blueberries)

Weird, huh?  Some days I eat like a monster.  Other days, my appetite is barely noticeable.

Lessons learned: 

Binges: During January, February, and March I have found various foods to mindlessly eat.  This proves that food and I have a complicated relationship.  You might even compare it to an abusive romance.  At times, only food can make me feel better.  Other times, I blame food for all of my woes.

Every month I tend to binge on certain categories of food.  January, I was all about the molasses and maple syrup.  In February, with my carbs restricted, I ate spoonfuls of almond butter straight out of the jar.  During March, I ate ridiculous amounts of fruit.  One day, I even ate 20 dates in one sitting (NEVER doing that again!  Only try this if you have an intestinal death wish and enjoy the feeling of things rotting inside of you.)  In April, fruit will be restricted.  Isn’t it weird how the diet lineup is shaping itself?  It’s as if the universe is trying to tell me when I’ve taken certain aspects of my diet too far.  That’s the most religious thought I can conjure for this post.

Fasting: Fasting for a day was a bit difficult, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected.  The morning and afternoon were pretty painless, but I started to feel noticeably lethargic and uncomfortable around suppertime.  I amazingly slept through the night, however.  One day recently, I skipped supper due to an upset stomach.  I discovered that by not adding more fuel to the fire, you allow your body to get its ducks in a row (or poop in a chute…tee hee ;-)).  As a means of giving my digestive system a break, I found it to be a useful tool.  I’ve found that I occasionally eat meals just because it’s mealtime and not necessarily because I am hungry.  In the past, weird stomach sensations were treated with more food in an attempt to fix the situation.  Almost always, things would get worse.  Catering to the needs of my body is something that I am trying to get better at.  I plan to incorporate occasional fasting into my life as a result.  I considered implementing a monthly one-day juice fast regime.  However, the fructose malabsorption diet won’t allow that during the month of April.

Fed Up!: (Only not in the desired literal sense)  The diets in general are officially “getting to me”.  It only took a quarter of a year.  My spirits were high during the first couple of months with the excitement of a challenge.  This has melded into frustration and corresponding empathy.  Most people might expect the problem to lie in the inability to indulge in favorite foods.  The truth is that that is only a fraction of the struggle.  There is also the inconvenience, the social awkwardness and missed opportunities: the lost ability to quickly grab a bite to eat, taste an exotic treat that someone offers you, or eat at a restaurant for a friend’s birthday.  These capabilities are taken for granted by most people and are often a non-option for those with serious dietary restrictions.  Having to make almost EVERYTHING from scratch is exhausting.  Planning is key, and sometimes, I just don’t feel like it!

Stay tuned for the lowdown on the fructose malabsorption diet, including what I ate my first day and fructmal-friendly recipes! 🙂