Mashed, puréed, blended or blitzed, give me baby food and my body is happy

11 Sep
Baby food all the way! Photo credit: monosodium via Morgue File

Baby food all the way! Photo credit: Morgue File

I thought it was about time I returned to the theme of my diet and food intolerances. I’m sure you’ve all missed hearing about the idiosyncrasies of my digestive system and bowels and been waiting with bated breath on the edge of your seats in anticipation….No? Oh that’s just in my head then.

This week I had my 2 month review appointment with my nutritionist. It gave me pause to stop and reflect on how things have been going since I cut out the long list of foods that the food intolerance tests showed I have issues with – it seems there are not many things in life, food or otherwise, that my little ME/CFS addled body does not have an issue with..grrrrrr.

And you know what? I have seen improvement. Whoooooo! Now I don’t mean that my abdomen is super flat and smooth (I wish…tho think that would involve a lot of gym visits as well as no trigger foods) and that my bowels are operating regularly without assistance. No, sadly miracles don’t happen. But I am getting far less bloated and far less frequently. And with the aid of the organic natural soluble fibre supplement acacia senegal I am seeing bowel activity most days! Those of you reading this who share my IBS and digestion woes (and I know there are a lot of you) will fully appreciate just how wonderful this is. I would even go as far as to say that I’m having toilet action nearly everyday!

I haven’t cheated and had any, not even a tiny bit, of my trigger foods AT ALL since I came back from France a month ago. And the only trigger food I had during my holiday was a couple of sips of wine (grapes and yeast are no nos for me) and a little garlic butter on a steak. So overall I am pretty darn pleased with how things are going diet wise. As well as my digestion improvements I think I have seen improvements in my ME/CFS symptoms as well – fewer bad headaches and slightly more manageable fatigue levels. The improvement in fatigue is negligible but I’ll take that! Any progress is better than no progress after all.

Water water water, how much do you drink? Photo credit Morgue File

Water water water, how much do you drink? Photo credit Morgue File

I have still had the odd times where my digestion has just seemingly gone on strike and I have bloated up to resemble a final trimester pregnant lady and had no toilet action.  But a pattern is beginning to emerge as to the cause.

My last day in France I had a steak that came with garlic butter melted all over it. The presence of dairy on my plate was not a good start but slowly I have realized that the hunk of red meat is not so good for me either. It wasn’t the best steak in the world and had been pretty near cremated (I’d asked for bien cuit – well done – knowing the French tendency to under cook meat but this chef was clearly used to cooking for tourists as bien cuit was tres tres tres bien cuit). It was very very chewy and took far too much of my limited energy just to chew and swallow. It made me realize that if it was that hard work on my jaw and teeth, imagine how hard it was on my poorly digestive system. I was very bloated for several days after, each time I ate, the food baby would grow. And worst of all, no pooping for 4 days. Urrrrggghhhhh indeed. I was incredibly fatigued that week with a real spike in my ME/CFS symptoms which was to be expected what with the effort of the travel home  but the red meat will not have helped and may well have been a significant contributing factor to my problems. Since then I’ve only eaten red meat twice and both times it was  home made very slow cooked tender lamb (a mild korma and a tagine) where the lamb literally melted in my mouth. And you wanna know the good news? Eating the lamb in this way seems to have been okay! No major bloating and no blockages in the poop department – yipppeeee!

Relaying all this to my nutritionist she asked me what blood group I was. Huh? I was a bit confused. Whilst I rummaged in my purse to find my NHS blood donor card which I new stated my blood type, my nutritionist explained that those of us with type A blood groups have far less stomach acid than the other blood groups. Less stomach acid means less fuel to break down food which leads to bloating, constipation and all the other lovely digestive problems that are such a part of my life. Ah Ha! I eventually located my donor card and guess what? Yep I am blood group A Negative. So I naturally have low stomach acid. Great. Makes sense. Low stomach acid is particularly problematic with heavy proteins as they take more to break down, hence my problem with the super charred steak. I was advised to take several digestive enzymes each time I ate steak and to save it for special occasions. Fine by me.

Now add to my already low levels of stomach acid the fact that I drink buckets of water each day and you get even lower acid levels meaning it is even harder for my body to break down food. Good okay. So I should drink less (I drink close to 3 litres of filtered water / herbal tea per day) . Yes well that’s easy to say. But I am constantly thirsty. And if I don’t drink when thirsty I get a horrendous headache. So yes I have the choice between low stomach acid and digestive problems or persistent thirst and headaches. Wow what a choice. The reason I am so thirsty is thanks to my lovely friend ME/CFS. Thanks to my nervous system being totally screwed and permanently stuck in stress mode my brain is constantly being signalled that I’m thirsty. Hence the gallons of water I get through each day.

So where does this all leave me then? Well avoid heavy cuts of meat like steak for a start. Stick with my soluble fibre focus to keep me regular.

Smoothies are good for my tummy! Photo source Morgue File

Smoothies are good for my tummy! Photo source Morgue File

Purée, mashed, poached, blended into smoothie or blitzed into juice, soup, slow cooked, soaked, de-seeded and de-skinned (yes I am the crazy lady peeling the cucumber and scooping out the tomato seeds). As Mr B says, give me a jar of baby food and I’ll be just fine…But hey, call me crazy, I don’t really care, cos it seems to be working. Fewer skins and seeds seem to be helping my digestive system to function that bit more smoothly. As a reminder of this yesterday I had 5 dates as a snack with my morning smoothie. My tummy was near enough instantly bloated, hard to touch and wasn’t happy for the rest of the day. Dates have quite tough skins….

I’m pondering a few more dietary things:

Raw v cooked fruit and veg – a raw salad leaves me feeling worse than steamed veg; eating an apple sends my tummy outwards in seconds whereas stewed apple does not.

Sugar. Sugar, sugar, sugar. If I eat ‘too much’ (by which I mean very little) refined sugar my fatigue increases. I noticed this with the granola bars and flapjacks I made this weekend for my friends coming over. The flapjacks were an overdose in golden syrup so yes naturally high in sugar and naturally bad for me. But the granola bars used light muscovado sugar. I keep reading about people who ‘quit sugar’ and felt so much better. But they cut all forms of sugar out of their diets, including fruit and high GI veggies. I think I need to detox a little from sugar. But I’m very wary about triggering detox symptoms as I do not need to trigger an ME/CFS flare, that’s the last thing I need to do. Cutting refined sugar out of my life isn’t hard as I don’t eat much of it anyway but for now I think I’ll keep the fruit in my life.

So for now I’ll keep pondering.

How are you doing with your diet? Do you notice an improvement in your health when you eat a certain way? What works for you? Whilst diet is inherently personal and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa but it’s always good to share. Information is power after all.

Must go, time for me to purée some bananas 🙂

If  you missed (what were you thinking?!) my previous posts about my diet and food intolerances, you can read them here, here and here.

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24 Responses to “Mashed, puréed, blended or blitzed, give me baby food and my body is happy”

  1. dawnhosking September 11, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    I note gastric upset when I eat grapes, nectarines, peaches and plums – really horrid bloating. White rice or white pasta will do it too but no so much white bread. I am a vegetarian but have a milk intolerance (cutting that out really helped my sinus issues) so I’m more or less vegan diet wise. I noted that my digestion is much more efficient since becoming vegan some years ago. 😉

    • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      I’m the same with those fruits, could be the skins? I’m better when they’ve been stewed or in a smoothie or just peeled. I’m increasingly thinking meat free is the way forward but I’m intolerant to soya so that rules out tofu and some pulses give me problems (same thing bloating if whole better if mashed or puréed) so I’d be lacking protein without some meat.

      • dawnhosking September 11, 2013 at 10:16 am #

        Yes, it could well be the skins as I can tolerate grapes in smoothies. I tend to avoid too much soya based stuff and use quinoa (packed with protien) added to stews etc or used instead of rice or pasta. Also add nuts or pulses to my meals to add the protein punch 😉 I avoid chickpeas though as they bloat and cause wind. I can eat hummus no problem.

      • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 10:17 am #

        I love quinoa it’s such a versatile grain! I’m exactly the same hummus is fine but whole chickpeas not so good. I’m glad I’m not the only one with these bizarre things!!

      • dawnhosking September 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

        Me too 😉

  2. Jumping_Jenny_444 September 11, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    I have been gluten free for 6 months. I tried taking out gluten as an experiment back in march. One week later, I had some hash browns (which had gluten in them) and I had a fibro flare for a couple of days. I guess I can say my diet has been helping. Without gluten, it keeps my body from being in severe pain! 🙂

    • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      So happy to hear that you’ve found gluten free to help your pain. Me too. I’ve been gluten free for nearly 8 years but when I had to do a two week gluten challenge for a celiac screening two years ago my ME/CFS pain and fatigue were much worse. Being dairy free made a big difference to me too.

      • Jumping_Jenny_444 September 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

        I would try going dairy free too, but I’m not sure how I would get in my calcium.

      • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

        I take a supplement and my levels are always fine in blood tests.

  3. Julie September 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    I have found that going gluten /grain free has reversed a large number of my fibro symptoms. I still have a lot of ibs issues tho. Now I’m wondering what blood type I am.

    • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Happy to hear you’ve found diet changes helpful, me too. IBS symptoms seem to be incredibly stubborn and hard to shift unfortunately!

  4. currankentucky September 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    I did the IGg food intolerance test when i first fell ill and since then am off dairy, red meat and cashew. I’m also off refined sugars, gluten and any processed stuff, becuase the nutritionist advised they would hamper my immune system and take energy to digest, giving nothing in return! It is hard to say what positive impact all this has had because i came off it all way at the begining. (I had booked the test while healthy as i was aiming to hone in on my diet for an upcoming running race i was aiming to compete in!) But, when I do eat the smallest grain of any of the above foods I develop Elephant belly, I will be constipated and yes, I will hit a horrible fatigue slump so i guess if i ate all the foods regularly id be much worse off than I am!!

    • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

      Elephant belly! That’s a great description of a bloated belly! 🙂 It’s all about avoiding our individual trigger foods. Processed food is never good and I try and avoid that too. Did you used to eat a lot of cashews? My IGg test showed I was intolerant to almonds and brazils and the nutritionist told me that often over reliance on the specific food causes the intolerance.

      • currankentucky September 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

        To be honest I did eat a lot of cashews, in the months before the test I used to wolf them down after my long runs, getting my protein fix before making it home for dinner! It would be interesting to see if they show as an intolerance now, having been off them for so long. It is really interesting to see how our bodies react to the differing foods, food really is our fuel, bad food is dirty diesel! LOL

      • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

        Lol, that’s brilliant! Bad food is definitely dirty diesel. I imagine you wouldn’t show up intolerant to cashews now. I didn’t react to gluten in my IGg test even though I know it affects me so badly both digestion and fatigue wise. The nutritionist said if you’ve excluded a food for a long period of time (months) then the test could show a ‘false negative’ (i.e. you’re fine with the food when you know you’re not. Tho it could also show a ‘true negative’ because in theory the longer you cut something out the more tolerance you develop to the food. Tho that isn’t always the case apparently. It depends how bad your intolerance was/is – hence why I still can’t have gluten.

      • currankentucky September 11, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

        I wonder is there anyone in the world who is tolerant to everything! I bet there isn’t!!

      • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

        No I bet you’re right!

  5. thehomeschoolingdoctor September 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    I found your points about the granola bars, flapjacks, etc interesting. I have come so far in how I feel this year with my huge diet overhauls, but I think I have noticed that sweet (for me in the form of honey or maple syrup) leaves me fatigued, too! It was a trend that I just noticed maybe this month (probably always there–it’s just that this listening to my body about food stuff is new for me). And like you, I seem to feel better if I really stay away from those food intolerance foods! But not always so easy with so many! I’m glad this month has been a touch better for you! Hope it continues! I took note about that Senegal (but I’m doing okay in that department right now–but it has always changed in the past!).

    • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      Honey is high FODMAPs I think isn’t it? I love honey and maple syrup. I’m hoping that by cutting out refined sugar I can keep the alternative ‘healthier’ sweeteners in my life – honey, agave, maple etc. Very pleased to hear things are going better in the C department! My fingers are crossed that it continues that way for you! I’m still getting to grips with listening to my body too, it is far easier said than done.

  6. Diana - Chronic Chic September 11, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    I’m on my 12th day for the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. I’ve also been gluten-free for over a year, and I already went dairy- and egg-free before starting the AIP. I’ve seen some improvements since going gluten-free (less bloating and pain), but hopefully this new diet will help me figure out the rest of my intolerances.

    • myjourneythrume September 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

      What does the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol exclude exactly? There are so many of these elimination diets it is hard to keep track! Having been gluten free for years, going dairy and egg free made a big impact on my diet, who knew eggs were such a problem for me! I’m now very into vegan gluten free baking! Hope with your new diet you can get to the bottom of your other intolerances. If not perhaps look into an IGg intolerance test, that’s what I did in the end as I was so frustrated with trying to figure it out myself. Good luck!

  7. Claire September 14, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    Thanks for the post – I’m exploring food intolerances too (all your digestive problems sound very familiar). Where did you get your igG test done, and was it expensive?

    I recommend you look into fructose exclusion – I found it really helpful for bloating. Read the Sweet poison by David Gillespie and I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson!

    • myjourneythrume September 14, 2013 at 8:12 am #

      The test I did was the Food and Drink Scan test listed on this page by York Testing. It wasn’t cheap but the price did include two 30 min consultations with a nutritionist which were surprisingly helpful. The difference knowing and cutting our my trigger foods has made for me was well worth the money. But it was something I’d toyed with for a long time and finally did cos I was so fed up with being so bloated and constipated!
      http://www.yorktest.com/products/#first-step-indicator-test
      Fructose malabsorption and exclusion is something I’ve been looking into for a while, I Quit Sugar by Sarah definitely rings a bell but I’ve not heard of Sweet Poison so thanks for the info that’s a new one for me to look into 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Health Update – September 2013 | my journey thru M.E. - September 20, 2013

    […] IBS symptoms seem, touch wood, to be much more under control – hope I haven’t jinxed myself by saying that! The high soluble fibre diet without any trigger foods has really helped. I’m still getting some bloating, but it’s much less frequent. I’m seeing a pattern to it as well – skins of fruits and veggies and nuts if they’re not chopped real fine, make me bloat. You can read more about my digestive improvements here. […]

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