Rethinking Food

fox plateYou may have noticed there haven’t been very many recipes on the blog recently and if I’m honest, that’s not so much having writer’s block but having the most complicated dietary requirements around at the moment.

Having discovered the whole Fodmap thing and giving it a proper go since just before Christmas, I’ve been rewarded by radically improved physical health. My fatigue is more manageable, my joint pain is reacting to painkillers and my innards aren’t in full mutiny all the time. I haven’t felt this well in years, possibly decades.

And yet oddly, it feels like life has got harder with this change. I know now what aspect of my diet has been worsening my ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and now for the first time in my adult life I have some control over my body and its physical health and it’s terrifying.

I feel incredibly under pressure that if I eat the wrong thing now I’m actually making myself ill and in our current climate the only sin greater than being sick is being fat. We live in a world where Nutribullets sell out, people talk about the nutritional value of chia seeds rather than the taste, Instagram is awash with 5:2 shots, papers like the Daily Mail and Express feature health cure stories on the front page several times a week and people like Ella Woodward and Belle Gibson are in the pages of every magazine crediting exclusion diets as miracle cures.

Being well and eating well are indistinguishable and the modern morality tale. Even discussing weight or the ‘obesity crisis’ is talked about in terms of health on both sides from the doom-mongers to the Health At Every Size proponents. As someone who has been ill their entire life, I’ve never felt like such a failure. Not only have I failed to cure myself, but I’m so sick I can’t work and have to be one of those scroungers who lives off the taxes of those healthy hard working families according to the Mail and Express on the other days of the week. To top it all off, I’m even a bit overweight and won’t be healthy at any size anyway. I’m not hitting any of the milestones society expects of me.

My health in many ways feels like public property and that puts a massive pressure on me to not do anything that isn’t actively trying to improve it. The fact it’s hard to know how to improve ME/CFS because no one actually knows what causes it rarely stops people suggesting things anyway or prevents me from thinking one of those suggestions might be the answer I’ve waited 25 years for to cure me.

And then it turns out there is something I can quite definitely do to help. Avoiding onions, garlic and other alliums and fructans isn’t a cure, but it’s a massive positive change and yet, it’s just not as simple as it sounds. It requires a huge amount of commitment, research and effort on a daily basis.

So far I haven’t found a single widely eaten cuisine in the world that doesn’t use alliums at all. I can’t eat onions, shallots, garlic or spring onions or garlic of any kind, fresh, dried or powdered and since these flavours form the basis of most meals worldwide, unless I move to Alaska and only eat a traditional Inuit diet, it’s going to be tricky.

I’ve become that person who can’t stop talking about their diet because what I’m going to eat and what I’m able to eat now consumes (literally) my entire life. 99.99% of the world have never heard of Fodmaps and thus think I’m just being precious, asking for explanation of how the diet works and what happens if I break it. Frankly there’s never a great time for me to discuss bloating, wind, nausea and diarrhoea, but over the menu somewhere seems particularly inappropriate and I’m guessing you have to tip the waitstaff extra to discuss your guts with them. (FYI: no one in England can understand the word ‘bowel’ in a Belfst accent just to complicate things further. There’s a lot of questions about ‘bile’ which is ironic since having no gallbladder complicates my dietary needs even more.)

I’m getting used to scanning the menu studiously and running everything through a Fodmap lens and then asking for the dishes with the most potential to be adapted. There’s usually only one choice on the menu and bewilderment at cooking without alliums from the chefs. I’ve been lucky enough to eat at some of London’s best restaurants in the last few months and if this is causing them such issue, I’m not sure I can ever really ask friends to cook for me anymore. I’m starting to weakly joke about bringing my own Tupperware of steamed fish and rice in future, but I can see it having to happen.

The tyranny of the dried onion and garlic means that I can’t eat most commercial sausages, black pudding, haggis, salami, salad dressings, crisps, stocks, spice mixes, marinades and dips. Going round to someone’s house means them adapting nearly possible sauce or marinade or flavouring for food and preparing everything from scratch. Add in the fact that I also can’t eat beans or pulses, leeks, aubergines, mushrooms, apples, pears, artichokes of any kind, celery, sweetcorn, cashews and pistachios on this diet and much cheese, cream or coconut due to my gallbladder issues and that I just really hate peppers and anyone who doesn’t just tell me to go away is too kind.

I now feel incredibly guilty and stressed out when I eat out either in restaurants or at other people’s houses and that has removed much of the pleasure and spontaneity of eating and socialising. I also really miss the textures of of smooth soup and crunchy fruit and vegetables. My world around food has shrunk hugely and it’s really started to affect my mental health which is the bit around food and health very few people seem to want to mention.

I’ve suffered from anorexia and bulimia for my entire adult life and it has been an enormous struggle to widen my coping mechanisms around food to something that isn’t distorted and disordered and my own body seems hellbent on sabotaging that progress by refusing to play nice and digest anything without making an almighty fuss.

Being forced to stick to a very restricted diet of ‘safe foods’ is making it very hard not to relapse into previous coping strategies around eating, especially since I suspect much of my eating disorder stems from the loss of control casued by being seriously ill since childhood.

The logical thing to do in this case is ask for help and back up before it gets worse, but I’ve been unable to find anything out there which is why I’m writing this. If I’m honest, most of the stuff around ‘healthy’ eating, especially the current trends, lean very heavily toward eating disorder language. All those words like ‘safe’ or ‘clean’ or ‘toxic’ are laden with judgement and much of the phrases are about exclusion or restriction.

This is juxtaposed with the whole ‘dirty burger’ style of eating which is all about over indulgence, innuendo and a culture of binge style eating, sandwiched together with most people talking about exercise as something solely to burn off calories and attain a certain body shape through. There is very little about the joy and privilege of being able to move your body and know that it will respond in kind in our discourse here. No one seems to take a walk when they could run 5K. You do the 5:2 so you can eat something specially created like a ramen burger, cronut or shakfutu French toast. It’s all extremes and very little middle ground.

I’ve approached my GP who is sympathetic and supportive, but baffled as to what to do. To receive eating disorder treatment on the NHS, my BMI has to hit certain points for certain conditions and therefore it’s almost impossible to do so preventatively even if mental health services hadn’t been slashed and there was much in the way of eating disorder treatment in the first place. I mentioned my ED history to the dieticians who introduced me to Fodmaps in the first place and they could offer no practical support or psychological help as they insist most people don’t have to make radical dietary changes once they re-introduce trigger foods as the exclusion period resets their system. None of the eating disorder charities seem to cover what to do if you have to exclude certain foods while in recovery.

I’m pretty much stumped and out of options. It’s almost amusing that the whole of the internet exists and I’ve found a subject it hasn’t covered. (The only thing I tolerate less well than onions are cute cat videos admittedly.) This is a literal example of how modern society has detached food from its social and psychological importance and how stigmatised mental health issues can still be when we only talk about the physical health implications of it. So if anyone has any suggestions of what to do or where to find support, I’m all ears…

 

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16 replies
  1. Sally Tattersfield
    Sally Tattersfield says:

    Wow, I’m so sorry to hear of your difficulties. (You may sigh or roll your eyes when you read that) I don’t have any issues around food in any of the senses that you talk about (or in any senses at all, I think) but I feel for you and the extremely restricted position you find yourself in. If there are no sources of help then perhaps you are the starting point? I don’t know how much energy you have for this, but you already have a successful blog and profile, can you use that to lobby and to raise awareness? To create an online community for people with similar issues where you can support each other? Maybe you’ve already thought of this, but it seems that if you have researched all avenues and come up with nothing, maybe you need to build a new avenue. And by the way, if you were my friend, I would make the effort to find recipes to cook for you and I wouldn’t think it a hassle. That’s what friends do x

  2. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I am so sorry to hear you are feeling low, especially when your book is such a success.(It seems everyone I know is talking about using slow cookers). It seems very unfair that your complicated health problems are so intractable, and are taking away your joy in this success.

    There is a great blogger (https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/health-and-the-usual-disclaimers/) who writes things that you might find helpful, like “To be clear, health is complicated, multi-dimensional, not entirely within our control, not guaranteed under any circumstances, not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness.” My take on HAES is that it looks at behaviours that can improve health, and moves away from the incorrect assumption that losing weight is a cure for health problems, it has also developed a wider, social justice, angle. I think you say some very powerful things about this in your blog and in this post – about failures in our systems keep people in poor health.

    I know some FODMAP people can tolerate the green part of scallions and also garlic infused oil – I don’t know if you have tried any of those. Could your GP refer you to a dietician to help you implement FODMAP?

    Have you ever practiced mindfulness? It’s cheap (free) and has really helped me, in a very slow and not directly noticeable way, when I have faced tough times. Wishing you all the best for this tough and lonely time xx (all will be well).

  3. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Maybe see if there are any counseling charities around who could help? If you can’t find one closer tweet me @foggyknitter &I’ll let you know if one in Croydon where I’ve been going I don’t think you have to live in the borough

  4. Bighomebird
    Bighomebird says:

    I really feel for you with this and admire you for sticking to the FODMAP diet, it must be very hard. Although I don’t suffer as badly as you but I know the pain and embarrassment that arises from dietary conditions and how this affects every part of your life. I hope it helps for you to know that you are not alone and that your blog helps others realise this too.

  5. Katie
    Katie says:

    I have nothing but empathy for you having suffered from depression and compulsive eating since I was 10 years old. I have been tackling my emotional eating via therapy for 30 years now, and I *still* resort to food when stressed… but I have found a way too accept this as part of who I am now.

    I tell you this because I’m sure – in time – you will find a way to dig deep into your creativity and use all the thousands of foods and flavours still available to you to create interesting and nutritious meals. You are amazingly creative and resourceful. Once you have got your head around these burdens you carry on your shoulders, I would be very surprised if you didn’t find a large number of people very interested in what you have to say.

  6. Evidence Matters (@EvidenceMatters)
    Evidence Matters (@EvidenceMatters) says:

    This will probably be several comments as they occur to me. As Rachel says above, garlic oil is fine for a number of people as it’s the water soluble part of the alliums that is the problematic FODMAP – fried onions/garlic tend to be fine for people (in moderation, in my experience) as is garlic oil. (I tend to fry onions for a soup or casserole, remove onions from the pan, carry on cooking the remainder of the soup/casserole/stew/sauce and then either serve the onions/aromatics separately or remove a portion for me, and add the onions/aromatics back into the remainder for everybody else).

    It took a while for me to be entirely confident around the fried onions/leeks/similar and to increase my serving size of alliums. This is because there’s a big difference between fried alliums (troublesome FODMAPs don’t go into solution with oil) and sweated alliums because it feels as if the FODMAPs go into solution with the water released from the onions/alliums themselves, particularly if they’ve been sweated with butter rather than oil.

    If you don’t want to mess around with fried alliums for a while (tho’ I do recommend persevering with them as it’s worth establishing what works for you) have you experimented with asafoetida as a substitute for onion/garlic (both Suma and Real Foods online have a gluten free version made with rice flour if gluten is likewise a problem for you)?

    I know that none of this addresses the socialising/psychological aspects of this – I shall think some more.

  7. Claire
    Claire says:

    My sister in law discovered a couple of hrs ago that her problems were being caused by alliums. She now uses courgette in place of onions. Different taste but she says it helps. I know as well that she lets restaurants know when she books and they seem to be very accommodating (and we’re talking small town restaurants nothing big and fancy). She also has a brandy after dinneif she knows something has a bit of onion in. She said the cheap stuff is best. It’s not much but at least you can know you’re not alone.

  8. azure
    azure says:

    Perhaps Hawaii instead of Alaska? That would be a pre-European arrival Hawaiian diet (except for the coconut https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_cuisine_of_Hawaii ). That’s meant to be a joke.

    I’m sorry to hear that after your impressive accomplishments (great blog, cookbooks, food columns) you feel so discouraged. I hope that it’s a temporary feeling that you are able to rebound from, and, as suggested above, perhaps develop your own community and maybe, eventually, another book on Fodmap and cooking for Fodmap users? Perhaps you already know that it helps to have people w/similar issues or who are just interested/supportive around– when dealing with what seems like a long tidal wave of moralistic, punitive thinking, behaviors and governmental action.

    I agree with your observations regarding how food is perceived by so many. In the 1990’s I worked at a natural food-co-op and much of what you describe had already begun. I saw customers who went from diet to diet, supplement to supplement, seeking, perfect health and sometimes, happiness–w/no thought given to how the food tasted. I eventually thought of it as “perfection through food.” I still remember people talking about the need to cleanse (which at that time, included enemas), in addition to some people believing stuff, that had they taken basic chemistry, biology courses in high school or, as I believe you’ve mentioned in the past–what’s called in the US home economics courses, they’d know was inaccurate information. That job was an eye-opener for me in that way.

    Whatever other problems my family may have experienced, we were able to simply enjoy the taste of some foods–in the summer, sweet corn and sweet cherries in particular when my sister and I were young (at that time, we lived in an area where cherries grew well) My father had a garden when we were young, so we enjoyed apples and pears from his trees (my mother also made & canned applesauce), cucumbers and tomatoes from his garden.

    Some of the “New Wave thinking” (if it can be called thinking) of the ’90’s contained the seeds of the moralistic and punitive attitudes you mention–for example, the idea that if you just “thought the right things” (a perverse version of positive thinking) you’d heal yourself. My sister had what’s now considered to be an auto-immune disorder since she was 14. She has utilized traditional/western medicine, yoga, vegetarian/almost vegan diet, Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, counseling, and probably other treatments or methods I didn’t hear about. None of them “cured” her, a few of the medications have had long term side effects, Anyone w/certain types of disorders essentially becomes a guinea pig for BigPharma because no drug manufacturer is required to long term (like 5 years or more) trials on humans before the drug is cleared for sale.

    I hated those “if you just think the right way you’ll be fine” books- because I knew how hard my sister tried (and my parents) and, imo, no one ever had the right or authority to say to her “oh, well, if you just thought the right way, you’d be ok, no reason to feel empathy or sympathy for you or to think of you as a valuable person”. She might have said it to herself though just as you may be–during weak moments.

    I’m in the US, and I’d thought that, because of the Calvinistic/puritan strain/oligarchic corporate capitalism is god here, that the trends you describe were mostly here,or more severe here, not plaguing other nations. Apparently not. I am sorry that you are personally suffering from the irrational and punitive attitudes expressed by the corporate media and some in our respective governments, as well as cuts in social program benefits similar to those occurring in the US–based on the belief that “isn’t it your fault (and choice) if you can’t work on a regular basis or earn an income sufficient to make you able to house yourself, feed yourself, stay healthy and perhaps even enjoy yourself on occasion?” Although, of course, it’s fine to subsidize the wealthy (at least in the US), bailout the TBTF banksters, etc., because they couldn’t possibly be at fault for the damage they cause, could they? Fault & “austerity” is just for the little people.

    As for friends, I think it will be too much trouble for some of your friends perhaps but not others. The difference will have to do more w/them then with you, if my experiences and those of my sister, are any kind of guide. Some friends may see utilizing fodmap as a spur to creativity–what can we come up with w/in your guidelines or requirements that tastes good? Others may see it as too much trouble, perhaps because they’ve got a blind spot when it comes to CFS (not unlike too many MDs. . .. .), perhaps because their lives are too overloaded at the moment and their coping mechanism is to say that it’s too much trouble for them, or who knows why.

    And yes, antiquated a view as it may be, I think that tasting good is an important aspect of a meal ; – ).

    Friends may vary over time w/what they feel able to do or not do. For me, w/my sister, I thought hat, from about the time she was 16-18, she was the expert on what she needed to do to be ok, so if she needed to eat at X times, or rest, or would suddenly say, I’m really hungry I need to eat now, then that’s what we’d do. I have less patience w/people whose diets shift w/every fad but w/people who say, I have Y disorder and this is what works for me, well, that’s what we do. It’s a little harder when the person I’m with isn’t quite sure what are ok foods and which aren’t, then I just usually consider that while it’s perhaps a temporary inconvenience for me, for the other person it’s their life every day. Puts things into perspective–and it’s not as if I don’t have my own problems/flaws.

    That works fine for home cooking–it’s different eating out. Then, as you’ve indicated, you’re dealing w/menus, chefs, etc.

    I second Rachel’s suggestion re: mindfulness. I don’t know what’s available in the UK/Brixton. My introduction was by reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s “Full Catastrophe Living” which was his description of a program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction that he (and others) developed at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (med school) in the 1970’s. He and his collegues developed the program for people suffering from cancer, chronic pain, cardiac disorders (post heart attack, etc), anxiety & panic disorders. The program teaches mindfulness skills, the goal is for people to continue meditation, etc., on their own. FTB:”In this learning process, we assume from the start that as long as you are breathing, there is more right with you then there is wrong, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel.” The program is a “vehicle for active learning, in which people can build on the strengths which they already have and come to do something for themselves to improve their own health and wellbeing.” The “Full Catastrophe” of the title comes from Zorba the Greek. “Zorba’s young companion turn to him at a certain point and inquires, ‘Zorba, have you ever been married?’ to which Zorba replies (paraphrasing) ‘Am I not a man? Of course I’ve been married. Wife, house, kids, everything . . . the full catastrophe.'” To Kabat-Zinn, that’s not a lament, but a “supreme” appreciation for the richness of life, and the inevitability of all its dilemmas, sorrows, tragedies and ironies.”

    It’s quite possible/likely that the NHS doesn’t cover the cost of this program (I’m assuming there’s an equivalent program in the UK), if it does, you may wish to consider trying it. I mention this book is because my health insurance doesn’t (my sister’s did/does), I’ve not been able to afford to pay for the program (or the equivalent in my part of the US) myself, and while I would’ve preferred to take the program (structure, camraderie offered by the presence of other people learning the skills), I’ve been able to learn at least a few of the skills from the book. It was revised in, I think, 2011. I was able to pick up a copy of the first edition cheaply, I requested the revised edition through my public library.

    No real answers, only sympathy and a belief that someone who’s been as skilled at coping and as productive as you have been in the past few years (or longer?) will, after perhaps a hiatus due to discouragement (a word?) will rebound and see what you can do to eat well while utilizing the fodmap. I am sorry that it’s likely that you may be be able to eat foods you like the taste of and/or that the UK gov’t may make it so difficult for you to buy the foods you need to feel better.

    Your books & blog have added to people’s lives, provided interest, given pleasure. Please remember that when it seems that some in society question your worth.

  9. Evidence Matters (@EvidenceMatters)
    Evidence Matters (@EvidenceMatters) says:

    King’s College has a number of resources that might be useful to some people: even where Eating Disorder organisations don’t offer local services, I would hope that their helplines might be of some guidance to pointing some to useful local assistance.

    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/depts/pm/research/eatingdisorders/treatment/treatment.aspx

    http://www.b-eat.co.uk

    It’s a little frustrating that dietitians recognise the need for specialists within their profession to deal with clients who’ve had or still have eating disorders and concomitant GI issues but it’s so difficult for you to obtain a referral to one.

    http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/100614p14.shtml

  10. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    I replied to one of your earlier blogs about the curing of duck breasts so you will remember that, I’m sure. You have described your current state of mind so well that you have all my sympathy as I feel your blog is such an interesting one and, from the comments already this time, is read by a large number of people. I myself have recommended it to others in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. Again, my husband, professional microbiolgist, has a suggestion which is that you ask your GP for a full microbiolgical analysis of your faeces. A full one, as he says the default one does not analyse fully. He says that the microorganisms in the gut are constant regardless of dietary changes and therefore can be analysed, no matter what your current food intake is. Currently in NI, bowel cancer in the 65plus age group is tested for routinely, for free, through a faeces test, so a GP should be quite aware that it can be done. Please try this as well as your dietary modifications.

  11. Louise Marston
    Louise Marston says:

    That must have been a hard post to write – thank you for being brave and putting it all down. I haven’t got any experiences that would be helpful here, but I wanted to stop and comment, and say I hope you find that things get better. Sometimes, I find, putting it all down on paper (even virtual paper) can be a turning point, and can help clear things up enough to see a way forward. Just know that you are doing the best you can for yourself, and that’s all anyone could ask. You have no responsibility to anyone but yourself and your own health. Anyone who judges you for this is showing themselves to be small minded – it’s their issue, not yours.
    The only other suggestion I have that might be useful to you – have you heard of Patients Like Me? It’s a series of communities for people with chronic conditions, backed up with analytics and research, and it might be that someone there is in the same position as you. Their ME community is here: https://www.patientslikeme.com/conditions/27

    Hang in there – hopefully things will be better soon. And all you need to do is take one day at a time.

  12. yes1and
    yes1and says:

    I LOVE this thought: the only greater sin in our society than being fat is being sick. Nailed it (unfortunately).

    I’m on a low-FODMAP diet (live in the United States, where thankfully awareness of this diet is growing rapidly) and am gradually adjusting to it. Are you familiar with the Australian MONASH university’s research and app? http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/

    You may find that there are far more food choices available to you than you thought. For example: broccoli is a high FODMAP food, but even people on the exclusion diet can have up to 1/2 cup of it, cooked. MONASH uses a green light/red light system, and you can have multiple green light foods per meal. There are good recipes out there if you dig around. Pinterest is another source for both recipes and an online community where you can talk to other people on the diet.

    Green tops of leeks, chives, tops of spring onions and garlic-infused oils all work really well in recipes. Eating out is hard, I agree.

    You might also ask your GP about a trial with the probiotic Saccharamyces boulardii (don’t take if you are immune compromised, though). It can dramatically help to rebalance gut flora so you can eat a greater variety of foods. Read about it and see what you think.

    Good luck and hang in there and keep writing — I appreciate what you are doing!

  13. David Kelly
    David Kelly says:

    I don’t suffer from an food allergies / intolerances myself but my father was confirmed as a coeliac some years ago (after initially being misdiagnosed). This of course made big changes to his food lifestyle and through that experience I can empathise with your situation. For a Norn Irish man to lose out on eating plain bread, soda bread and the likes after a lifetime of eating bread as a staple part of his diet, it was a big shock. At that time there wasn’t a lot of GF options available off the shelf at supermarkets but the positive in completely changing his diets was that years of sickness, weight loss and gastro-intestinal problems stopped when the gluten was removed. Not that that necessarily makes the burden easier to carry but at least we knew at last what the burden was and were able to begin to take some control around trying to manage it.

    The plethora of GF food / drink options now available off the shelf does mean coeliacs have an expanded choice of food stuffs though at an additional expense. I guess that’s come about because there are so many individuals discovering / developing gluten intolerances and created the demand / market opportunity for the manufacturers to cash in on. However it would seem that awareness / appreciation of Fodmap is at a stage akin to gluten related issues from some 10 years ago, though I hope that situation improves through.

    Have you had a look to see if there are any Fodmap related groups on Facebook? I know of friends and family who’ve discovered various condition related support groups / networks via FB when they’ve drawn a blank with the medical profession who have been unable to help with information & support.

  14. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Everyone: So many comments I’m not even sure where to begin, except with an enormous thank you to you all. I’m already doing a lot of the advice offered but being reminded of the effort I’m making and the fact other people are doing it too has helped change the feeling from futile to more positive. It’s also helped me realise how far I have come and at least I now know what the issue is! I dithered about whether to post the piece in case it sounded like a whinge, but it’s done what I wanted which is make me think anew and in this case a change is as good as a rest!

    I’m going to follow up all the links everyone was kind enough to take the time to provide and I feel very lucky to have such great support. Thank you again, you’ve helped me and I think you’ll help other people who come looking! I saw this piece by chance this week talking about the link between depression and gluten in coeliacs and that’s got me thinking further http://littlemissedgluten.me/2015/05/15/that-gut-wrenching-feeling-coeliac-disease-and-depression/

  15. Sophie
    Sophie says:

    This comment is so long after the original post that your situation may have entirely changed…

    But it was thanks to you that I discovered FODMAPS, which has made a huge difference to me – moving me from seven months of pain every day to a pain-free (if currently restrictive) existence. (I have followed you for a while, but when I got a parasite in Mexico my symptoms reminded me of your posts about FODMAPS, and the consultant gastroenterologist who I finally got to see when I struggled with reintroduction confirmed I should be on it.) So, firstly, a huge thank you for that!

    Lots of your post really chimed with me. Although I wouldn’t go back to being in pain again for anything, I do miss being carefree about food. I miss petit pois and apples and onion soup and really good ice cream. (Sorry!) I miss being the least fussy eater I knew (with the possible exception of my long-suffering boyfriend, who must be the only person in the world who could put up with quite so much chat about my bowels…). I miss not worrying about whether my unfussy boyfriend is getting enough probiotic food to keep his own gut healthy! (Yes, I think there is a degree of anxiety wrapped up in my mourning my “old” foodie self.)

    Tangential medical issues was another point that struck a chord. Mine is a random growth they found by chance while scanning my abdomen. It raised some rather alarming possibilities in the minds of the doctors… They are going to whip it out and test it in a few weeks, but it has been a struggle juggling the initial worry about that with learning to FODMAP and navigating access to two different medical specialities. Sounds like it should all be ok for me, though. Hope you have had some luck with the mental health side of things. I know from the experience of a close friend how frustrating the access for ED services can be.

    I’m trying to focus on the positives of my situation. I’ve learnt to make my own low FODMAP buckwheat and seed soda bread – because the GF bread for sale is just more foul than I can cope with. It has certainly moved me out of any cooking rut I may have been in – no more risotto for supper until I have worked out how to provide the same “slide” between the grains of rice as the diced onions used to provide. And this may be the final kick I need to stop feeling guilty when other people need to help me. Fingers crossed!

    Hope all well with you now. And a big, big thank you for helping to get me out of pain!

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