For over 10 years I have experienced delightfully embarrassing sensations after eating food.
Originally thinking that it was caused by the fizzy drink I consumed with dinner, I cut it out completely and replaced it with juice or water. Over the years I cut out other foods that I pinpointed as causing issues, such as sausage rolls, meat pies, fried chicken, garlic, onion etc.
But last year, my symptoms seemed to get worse. I was experiencing painful cramping while at work and found that I reacted badly after the healthy processed foods I took along for lunch; such as canned soups and pre-prepared low fat microwavable meals. Then I starting having reactions from a basic Greek Salad and decided that enough was enough.
So I was tested for food intolerances and the results came back positive. I was definitely lactose intolerant (which explained the reactions after eating fetta cheese in my salad at lunch) and was potentially intolerant to foods from the fructan galactan group. So what did I do about this new information? Well, I hung up the phone after a brief 10 minute phone call with the doctor and with my messily scribbled notes… I went on living my life.
Sure, I started taking lactase tablets prior to eating dairy (there was no way I was giving up my regular intake of chocolate and ice-cream) and continued to avoid garlic and onion. But that was about it. I found my symptoms eased a bit, but nine months later I was diagnosed as having chronic constipation and my GP said it was probably caused by my intolerances.
So I started seeing a Dietician in July, who put me on the low-FODMAPS diet. FODMAPS stands for Fermentable Oligo-saccharides (fructans and galactans), Di-saccharides (lactose), Mono-saccharides (fructose) and Polyols. These sugars can be poorly absorbed by the small intestine and lead to an excess of water in the bowel, causing lovely reactions! Apparently, all humans lack the enzymes required to break down fructans and galactans, therefore these are malabsorbed in everybody. However, for some people (a.k.a me) the reactions can be more severe. Lucky me!
So I eliminated all potential trigger foods, slowly reintroducing them one by one. So far, I’ve pinpointed that I’m intolerant to lactose (surprise, surprise), fructose and onion. However, I’ve found that I’m often okay on Day 1…it’s just Day 2 and Day 3 which kill me!
So I’ve become a major pain for family and friends who want to feed me. I’ve basically told them all to just give me plain chicken or beef and salad. And I’ve gotten used to ordering the steak and salad while eating out. And when it comes to dessert I’ve told them to forget it. Dark chocolate, selected fruit and a cup of tea will have to do. It can be bloody frustrating, I tell you!!
But there are some benefits. I’m now 4kg lighter and much more toned. My energy levels have increased as well. But I miss my desserts that don’t say ‘gluten free’ and ‘lactose free’ (and ‘taste free) on the label!
But I know it will be worth it in the end!!