Adventures in FODMAPs part two

Continuing from my last post, in the middle of an IBS flare-up due to stress from being laid off from my job at the beginning of November, I decided that now was the perfect time to get this stuff under control and hopefully beat the fatigue once and for all. I read everything I could, I was already suspecting that I had fructose malabsorption, and I decided to do a FODMAPs elimination. FODMAPS if you are not familiar, are basically carbs and sugars found in healthy foods that actually work the opposite way in the GI tract of people who have IBS/IBD. You can find tons of information on FODMAPs all over the internet, many of it good but some of it conflicting. Nearly every legit site says that you should attempt the elimination under the care of a dietician but I figured I could handle it on my own. After all, I am once again without insurance and I’m only working very little on a contract basis so I don’t have a lot of money coming in to pay to see a dietician. I bought the Monash University FODMAP app which I highly recommend, even at $8, and started off my elimination. I decided to do it for 14 days since a lot of what I read said it wasn’t necessary to do it for 6 weeks as some other sources advised. Since I am a pescatarian, eating all the meat you want wasn’t going to be much of a help for me. The vast majority of healthy foods that I eat – black beans, cauliflower, apples, edamame, sweet potatoes, everything cooked with garlic, are all high FODMAP foods.

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Left, bloated. Right, the brief two days I was less bloated.

So I bought a couple bags of potatoes, and set off on 14 days (planned) eating nothing but oats, zucchini, potatoes, yellow squash, shrimp, salmon, eggs, spinach, and carrots. I figured an added benefit would be to get my raging sugar addiction under control. Monday, I felt great. Tons of energy, It definitely seemed like I was less bloated, and I was feel really hopeful about the process. I kept my food log, recorded symptoms, and for the first two days, everything seemed to be going really well. Then, it all went to shit, no pun intended. For some reason, I had diarrhea after breakfast, which was exactly the same breakfast I had Monday and Tuesday. It didn’t make sense but I figured maybe it was just residual FODMAPs in my system since the elimination phase is to “heal your gut” and get your GI in good working order to try adding back in potential irritating foods. Things started getting worse as Wednesday went on. I put Paprika on my potatoes at dinner and reacted after eating it for dinner and brunch the next day so I decided perhaps the paprika had hidden onion or garlic even though the container said it was just paprika. By Wednesday I felt even more bloated than I had before starting the diet and by Thursday, I couldn’t make it through my regular morning workout. I felt so exhausted, I could barely lift my legs to work out. Frustrated, I sat on the couch and cried. I felt defeated. I felt like of course this diet that was almost magical for other IBS/IBD sufferers wouldn’t work for me, I was doomed to be tired and bloated for the rest of my life. I cut out the paprika but the symptoms didn’t go away. Friday, I was tired plus depressed as I went about my day. I bought more FODMAP approved items, having plowed through my bags of potatoes which still somewhat triggers me, since they aren’t “good carbs.” I felt a rumble in my stomach while shopping at DSW and wondered in horror if I was going to have to run to the bathroom while standing in line waiting to check out. Still I went on, reading the ingredients of all the gluten free breads, trying to find even more bland foods, wondering why every single gluten free bread contains corn syrup, agave, or pear juice, all high-FODMAP. I told my boyfriend we were going to have to move to Australia, since the US hasn’t caught up with them on FODMAPS. In the end I bought exactly what I had been eating plus a pint of vegan gluten free ben & jerrys.

15194455_10157877402780327_2465925602768258538_oMy boyfriend sent me an article about egg intolerance, which has the exact same symptoms of everything else intolerance: bloating, fatigue, GI issues. How are you ever supposed to figure out what is making you sick? I cried again. I decided that I was going to have testing done to try to narrow down what I shouldn’t be eating, only to read dozens of legit internet sites saying they are all just rip-offs, there’s no blood or hair test that can definitively tell you and allergists have you do just what I was doing – eliminate and then test to see if you react. My best friend said maybe it is coffee, I’ve been eating so little the last week there’s not a lot the could be making me sick. I told her that we will never know because if I had to stop drinking coffee and I can’t have soda, a caffeine headache on top of everything else would definitely make me do nothing but lie in bed and cry. Saturday I woke up feeling like I didn’t have enough energy to make it through even a couple hours. I gave up on everything and emotionally ate a Cinnabon which let me tell you was a horrible idea after a week of no gluten, dairy, soy, or sugar. My body freaked the f*** out. So now, I’ve decided that maybe it is an egg intolerance so I’m giving up eggs for a week too. It’s really clear to me that I was not qualified to do this on my own and really should have believed everything when it said to work with a dietician. However, I feel better Saturday and Sunday than I did Wednesday – Friday. I don’t see how that’s even possible. My new plan is rather than giving up everything to eliminate FODMAPS one category at a time. Fructose, then fructans, then oligosaccarides, etc etc etc. I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last two months and if I have to stop working out, plus eating potatoes, I’m terrified that I will gain it all back which I am so frustrated with. I have vowed to never regain this weight again. I’m tired of yo-yoing. I’ve yo-yoed my whole life and I refuse to continue. So yeah. That’s where I am.

If you’re thinking that you need to eliminate FODMAPs, don’t try to do it on your own. Work with a dietician and/or doctor. This has been an exhausting – both physically and emotionally – week. I’m really not sure that I’m moving in the right direction but the elimination was SO restrictive and I felt so deprived that I know that I can’t continue it, especially when I’m still having symptoms. My boyfriend agreed that they actually got worse as the week progressed. I’m moving in the wrong direction. I’m at a loss. 😦

Adventures in FODMAPs

This week, I started a FODMAP elimination diet. It has been quite an adventure, not in a good way. I want to start out with a little information on how I got to this point, but if you don’t care, skip to part two, I decided to make it a separate entry. 🙂

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Left – summer of 2009, Right – fall 2016

My current weight loss journey really began in late 2008 when I had what I now call “a nervous breakdown.” I was working full time, 8-5 monday through friday, and I was a full time undergraduate student, taking classes at night. I also started volunteering so my life was beyond full, every minute was taken up by something. It became rather stressful, but I was holding it together until my parents announced that they were getting a divorce. It also is important to note that I was dating a person who was emotionally and psychologically abusive. About three weeks after my parents announced their divorce, right before Christmas, I just didn’t get out of bed one morning. I didn’t call in sick to work, I just didn’t go. I turned off my cell phone and went back to sleep and didn’t listen to my voicemails for about 4 days. I felt like I had lost the ability to function. After a day or two of not calling anyone back, I obviously couldn’t go back to my job, although I did go back to pick up my personal items from my desk and I gave the owner a card of apology. I decided that I would live on student loans and focus on school and as it turned out taking care of both of my parents. My mother was an emotional mess, since she didn’t want a divorce, and my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer a few months after they split. Emotionally and mentally, this was the lowest low of my life, I was giving everything to my parents and had hardly any emotional energy left for myself. I spent a LOT of time lying in bed eating fried chicken. I told myself “I deserve this fried chicken because I feel so bad right now.” I made it to the heaviest I have ever been in 2009. I never weighed myself but my guess is it was around 215-225. fatpic

It was during that time, in the spring of 2009 that I started developing really upsetting GI issues. I was under a lot of stress with school and my parents, my dad started dating AND had kidney cancer. I remember distinctly a lunch with my dad and his girlfriend where I felt like my stomach was tied up in really painful knots so all I could order was a green salad with grilled chicken and I just picked at it with barely any appetite. Then, near the end of the meal, I had to run to the bathroom. I have never been a “use the bathroom for more than  peeing” type of person but I had the urgent need to go. That was the beginning of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome type symptoms. I have never actually been diagnosed with IBS/IBD because 2009 was also the beginning of a long period where I had no type of health insurance, so I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. If you have IBS/IBD, or any GI issues, you understand the hyper-vigilance that comes with never being sure when you might desperately need to use the bathroom. You have to always know where a bathroom is, anyplace that you go you are constantly making sure that you know where a restroom is. That same year I went on a trip to New Orleans with friends and I remember sitting outside, on the steps across from Jackson Square eating beignets from Cafe du Monde and saying “I am going to the bathroom, I’ll be right back” and desperately searching for a restroom in a town full of places with no public restrooms.

When I started trying to get healthier and lose the weight in 2010, I was pretty successful but I noticed that I was tired ALL THE TIME. Fatigue became a permanent part of my life. Even though I eventually lost a total of 40 pounds, my life was ruled by the fatigue – I would get up, work out, and then have to go take a nap because I was so tired. Friends that have fibromyalgia told me that this was similar to what they went through, but I’ve never had any other symptoms of fibro. I googled and read everything that I suspected it could be I didn’t meet the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome, or anything else I could find. I was just someone with IBS who was tired all the freaking time. Weight loss and healthier eating helped some, but I have never managed to shake at least mild fatigue for the last seven years. During the last 6-7 years I have lost and gained and re-lost dozens of pounds, managing to stay under 200 (for the most part) but never getting any lower than about 182. My IBS symptoms are mostly managed by healthy living and stress reduction but they resurface when I am under severe stress, like recently when I was laid off from my job. I experienced a surge in symptoms after I was laid off, which is very frustrating because the year and a half out of the last decade that I DID have insurance, I didn’t use it to go to a GI doctor because my symptoms were pretty well managed. Frustrated, I decided now is the best time to get my symptoms under control and hopefully conquer this fatigue which it’s hard now to remember a time that I wasn’t tired all the time. I decided to try the FODMAP elimination to identify which foods cause me trouble. For more about the details of FODMAP, read part two.

Welcome!

Looking for makeup content? I separated my two blogs, Not26Anymore and Not26AnymoreBeauty! This way you only see the content you’re interested in. Visit www.not26anymorebeauty.com for makeup and beauty content.

Welcome to my blog. If you’re looking for clean eating tips,  health and fitness articles, and information about weight loss, you have come to the right place! I have found plenty of stuff online about all those things, but nothing that really focuses on how different health or fitness is when you’re “not 26 anymore.”

I’m in the middle of my weight loss journey at the moment, but clean eating has definitely become a lifestyle for me. I also have a lot of goals that have nothing to do with weight loss, such as being healthier overall, and lowering my body fat percentage. I like to feel good, and feel good about what I eat, because I LOVE FOOD! If you’re interested in specifics on my weight loss journey you can check out my page about that.

If you’d like to know more about me, please visit the About page. I love comments, so please if you have questions, comments, or tips of your own, share them! Thanks for reading. ❤

yes fit challenge virtual race

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Postscript to Abusing my body with food

This is an older post that I originally posted on an old blog. I wanted to share it here too.

I wanted to make one more point that I didn’t make on my original post “Abusing My Body With Food”. I think it’s also important that when we do choose to indulge, we choose high quality foods made with fresh ingredients to indulge in. For example, instead of eating the fifty cent, couple days old cake that I bought from Kroger, I could have chosen to buy a freshly made slice of cake at Campbells, a local bakery that I love. That would’ve been a much better choice for a less than healthy “treat”.

So if you do indulge, choose something that’s good quality – don’t get the frozen pizza (even the “diet” one) instead make it yourself or buy it from a local place that uses fresh ingredients. Don’t drive-through McDonalds for a burger, go to a restaurant that uses good quality beef and will cook it to order, etc etc etc.

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Abusing my body with food

This is an older post that I originally posted on an old blog. I wanted to share it here too.

Last night, as I sat on my couch watching Criminal Minds season four and eating “Oops, we baked too much!” fifty cent sale Italian cream cake from Kroger, I thought about something that @missionfitchick had said on instagram. I recently started following her, I like her positive attitude, frankness about herself, and photos of healthy meals & snacks. The photos show up in my instagram feed between photos of people’s rescue dogs and giant hoagies, massive desserts and scrumptious-looking asian food from all my favorite “foodie” accounts. It is a little bit odd to have decadent images of calorie-laden foods in between posts about getting healthy and losing weight. There’s where I’m at though – I’m a foodie: Top Chef is one of my favorite shows; my new year’s resolution for 2013 was to eat in at least one James Beard Award Winning chef’s restaurant; I geeked out the time I ate at Chef Chris DeBarr’s restaurant Green Goddess and he came by the table. I love food in a weird and dysfunctional way and I always have. Back when I restricted food, over a decade ago, I was pretty much the same. I would walk through supermarkets, breathing it all in, looking at everything there was on the shelves, even though I wouldn’t let myself eat much of it at all and when I did eat it was organized with obsessive rituals and rules. When I started getting over my eating disorder related behaviors, I didn’t really get “healthy” I just started eating again.

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As I sat there last evening, eating this gigantic slice of cake directly from the container, the phrase “abusing my body with food” popped into my head. I’ve spent 2013 trying to get back into my healthy habits. In 2010 I lost about 40 pounds when I started running, and that was the only time in my life I have had a non-adversarial relationship with food. My thinking really started to change, I saw food as fuel for my body – not something to fear, indulge in, hide in, or vilify. Fitness was my focus, not food, and I think that’s why it worked so well for me. As I began to really enjoy running, I was able to really enjoy eating healthy, “clean” food to make my body even better at what I was achieving. I stopped indulging in the occasional bottle of wine because it affected my performance too much the next day. The first time I ran a mile without stopping was the first time in my life that I had not only done something that I believed I could not do, but I had achieved it on my own, doing it for only me and not to prove anyone wrong or to prove to anyone else that I was good enough. And then I stopped running.

It happened gradually at first. I started working instead of being just a full-time student, so it was harder to fit in exercise since I hate mornings. I started dating the alcoholic and I didn’t take my running shoes on my ten day trip to New Mexico. I’d planned to, but there was a fit in response, “Why would you want to do something without me!??!” That statement is ridiculously emotionally unhealthy, but I still left my running shoes at home. Little by little the healthy eating started falling by the wayside too. I’d been off diet frozen dinners but I started bringing them to work as quick, easy lunches again. I started eating fast food that wasn’t Subway. Then I fell into a depression during the 2011 holidays and started eating sweets. I had never been that interested in sweets, but all of a sudden I really wanted them. I ate dessert every night when I was in New Orleans, LA with my family and then when the alcoholic and I officially broke up, I started going to Dairy Queen and Sonic for Blizzards once or twice a week. Before I knew it, it was December 2012 and I had gained back 30-35 pounds of the 40 I had lost. It’s been really difficult to get back into healthy exercise habits – I spent most of February and this month losing 2 pounds and then gaining them back and then losing them again. Something really has to change, but I’m tired in the evenings and work stress has made it seem impossible to get out of bed early enough to work out.

I realized that whether I was restricting or over-indulging, I have always been abusing my body with food. Whether I wanted it to help me feel better about a bad relationship and that breakup, or wanted the exquisite control of a body screaming for food and telling it that I was too strong for that – I have always been abusing my body, except for that wonderful nine month period in 2010 when I finally somehow got healthy. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why anorexia & food restriction is body-abuse, but some people might scoff, especially the “fat acceptance” crowd, and say “why can’t you like yourself how you are? why can’t you eat a piece of cake and be ok with not being waif thin?” I don’t feel good right now. I’m all for accepting yourself as you are, loving yourself, accepting limitations, and I do that as best I can and have struggled for years. However, I feel like there are people out there who just get belligerent about treating themselves like crap, no differently than the people are insist that there’s nothing wrong with them smoking because it’s their body their choice. It is your body and your choice, just like it is mine and everyone else’s – but an unfortunate side effect I have noticed to “fat acceptance” has been to attack people who are trying to get healthier, and that’s not ok either.

Image by MissionFitChick via Instagram

Image by MissionFitChick via Instagram

I don’t sleep as well as when I worked out and ate healthily, I don’t have as much energy, my depression is worse, I just don’t feel very good physically. When I think about all the crap I’ve started putting into my body again, it’s no wonder I don’t. Fried foods, refined sugars and carbohydrates, they taste amazing but they don’t do much good for your insides. I realized that my eating has become an extension of some of my self-hatred that really frustratingly still resides in me after 18 or so years of working really hard to get rid of it. I hope that phrase sticks with me; I think it will because it really resonates. It’s not saying I can’t have a piece of cake from time to time, because I can and I will, but saying that maybe when I reach for that fourth piece of bread at dinner that there’s something beyond hunger that’s driving me.

I posted a postscript to this, which you can view here.

Love your body

This is an old post that was originally published on an old blog. I wanted to share it here.

Every time NOW’s love your body day comes around (oct 20th), I think about writing something. i have before, but nothing here on this – rarely updated – blog. this past oct 20th i again thought about writing but did not. tonight at a friend’s house i watched ellen’s interview with portia about her new book unbearable lightness and i thought, well perhaps it is time.

over the years i have explored the concept of “loving your body” and what that means. the conclusion that i have come to is that loving your body means accepting yourself as you are; being willing to change what is realistic to change in a healthy way; but most importantly it is about health: treating yourself, your body with respect. it is not anti-fat acceptance, nor is it saying that any shape or body type is better than another, but that we treat ourselves like something that it is important. i had a hard time with the concept when i felt like i had to accept myself exactly as i was in order to be a “good feminist”. well back then i smoked, i rarely exercised, i drank alcohol heavily, and i ate badly – i was overweight because i wasn’t loving my body at all. the easy answer would be that i needed to accept myself as i was, but i got to be the way that i was precisely because i did not and have never loved my body.

i’m pretty sure that when people look at me they do not see “recovering anorexic”. i am not gaunt, i’m still about 30 pounds heavier than my ideal weight according to medical professionals/bmi even though i have lost approximately 30 pounds so far this year. i don’t have that “anorexic look” that many former anorexics in recovery have, and frankly as i look at myself sometimes i think “you are an anorexic’s worst nightmare.” that’s pretty harsh but it’s true. i’ve never had a problem with extremes, it’s the middle-ground that i have trouble with. i never got as bad as i could’ve. in fact i never dropped very far into an underweight bmi, but it’s the thinking, the rituals that are the real problem of overcoming an eating disorder, at least they were for me.

ana99i don’t have a lot of photos from when i was at my lightest, but this is one before i went out one night. that skirt is a juniors size 3/4, i know because i still have it even though i have never been able to fit into it again. this was 1999-ish, i was around age 19.

watching portia tonight, talking to ellen about her book and her experiences was a difficult a teeny bit triggering. this comes on the week where i thought to myself “salad dressing has a lot of calories. no wonder i used to just eat lettuce with salt on it. that was smart.” of course i am now at the point where i mentally recoil and go, “oh no, that was not smart at all.” still, the line between healthy weight loss and slipping back into problem thinking is a fine one, and something that has terrified me for years. i don’t know if it is unique place to be, but i’ve never heard anyone talk about it. since i stopped restricting on a regular basis, i was never really a “normal” eater, but then what is normal for a woman in america today? i remember the photo of portia that they showed, of her at 85 pounds. my sister and i subscribed to quite a few magazines as teens: seventeen, cosmo, jane, glamor, details, spin, rolling stone, and that’s not even counting those we bought of the newsstand.

when i restricted on a regular basis, i ate a lot of chocolate covered espresso beans and went to starbucks a lot. it started off rather subtle; i’d purged for a summer in high school but never binged, eventually i stopped because i hated how out of control it made me feel. restricting was different though, restricting was all about control, strength. i went back to college, and i was terrified. i had only been to a community college for one semester, and it was in my small hometown. the community college in dayton, ohio was at the time 20 buildings and a parking garage larger than my old school. i started taking a creative writing poetry class and the professor wasn’t friendly in the least. i was afraid to talk to the other students that i deemed “cool”, i was just running on fear. the professor was so critical i started having trouble keeping food down, and thus restriction was born.

–2013 note: i never finished this post and kept it as a draft. i thought i’d publish it unfinished, because i really like the first few paragraphs about loving your body.