FODMAPs

EatWhole30-InstagramUntil a few days ago, I had never heard of this term: FODMAPs. It came up in a discussion with my doctor, who discussed the fact that gluten (that is, “Wheat belly”, could not necessarily be my problem. Tests have come back and I seem to be producing a reaction to all sorts of things, at a consistently higher level than is normal – gluten, lactose, some nuts, fruits, etc. Fruits? Now that’s weird.

So, the subject of FODMAPs came up. Food maps? No, Fodmaps! FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable (rapidly digested by bacteria in the intestines), Oligosaccharides (fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides), Disaccarides (lactose), Monosaccharides (fructose), And Polyols (sugar alchohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol). This is not a FAD diet! Studies have been done by Stanford, Virginia Medical School, and others on IBS and these certain irritants in the human digestive system. When I heard the term IBS, I rejected it. Summarily. I did not have the latest syndrome or problem. Nope. Never mind that the symptoms feel remarkably familiar. Never mind that getting rid of “gluten” seems to help but not completely. Never mind that I still have the gurgle-y stomach, a painful large intestine, and trouble actually fully digesting food (don’t gross out on me now…) Let’s be honest – I feel like I’ve been on this search for a long time – 4 years – I keep inching closer to the truth for me, and my body, whatever that is.fodmap1

So, what does this mean? Apparently the recommended course of action is very “Whole30”-like. Give up these foods for four to six weeks, then do reintroduction, taking detailed notes of how the specifics affect you. Again, very Whole 30. So, it’s off to another Whole30 – this time with the FODMAP variation. What does this mean? Oh, some pain, some grumpiness – but perhaps I can finally be free of a painful gut, painful joints, sleepiness during the day, headaches, trouble sleeping, and just a struggle to wake in the morning – for mental and physical reasons. Maybe.

I’m going to look for the support but know I probably won’t have it easily. I have to find it in myself. Going to track all of this in the journal, maybe here – keep track of myself. Wish me well, in this journey.

–Kris

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I learned something today…maybe.

I seem to be the type of person who struggles with learning lessons. I almost have to do something terrible twice before I actually get it. Usually, this something terrible is to me, but not always. This morning, it was a realization that it was to myself. Thank goodness.

Yet, what I learn has ramifications – to my family and friends. The ripples are maybe endless. Or maybe, they just extend for a really long distance. Either way, I think I should learn, not just for me but for my loved ones.

On vacation. Sun. Sand. Beach. Drinks. It’s a holiday, right? I can take a holiday from the way I normally eat, too, right?

Oh no no no.

Four days into my wheat-alcohol-sugar free for all, I feel awful. Couldn’t sleep, digestive upset, feeling just ugly, bloated, and bad, I woke up early to just plain stomach aches. I had thrown caution to the wind, cheese on my burger, and ice cream in a cup. It’s paradise? What could go wrong?

Yuck. Four days. That is it. What I perceive to be denial is just my body’s way of telling me what is good for me. After just coming off forty days of eating clean, I muck it up. Stupid girl.

But that’s just where I go wrong, and maybe you do, too. This isn’t about going wrong. I now know my limit. I have pushed the car to run out of gas so that next time, I know just had far the needle can go. I know how much is too much and what it makes me feel like. It’s also good for me to know that the pain isn’t immediate – I will pay later. Food is a body’s credit card – eat now, pay later. With added painful interest.

Eating well, and what my body wants, is not punishment. It is optimal pleasure. Eating poorly is not a reward for good eating. As I know now, it’s a very painful experience to let go.

Chaos eating really is chaos.

Lost in Food Wilderness

NavigatingIt’s been a long year. A very long year, filled with food ups and downs. Mostly, it’s been filled with my associations toward food. Eating in this century is dangerous business; it’s filled with thou shalt and thou shalt not, thou canst and though should think about it first. It’s filled with all kinds of chemicals and terms designed to dazzle, preserve, and rectify. Mostly, it just makes me tired.

Where have I remained? Lost in a food wilderness. Too much to choose from, to many sleepless nights struggling against painful digestion, and way, way too many bad decisions. It is a very first world problem. And yet, it’s the first world problems that are killing us. Finding my way with compass and map has been a challenge. I know what my body likes and what it does not; yet, I rarely make the best decision for myself. It’s almost as if I just can’t be trusted with something that should sustain me.

I could raise my fist in the air and curse, what? Parental units? History? The age in which I was born? Truth be told, it may be all of those things, and nothing but me. Genetics, failure of choices – hell, I don’t know. I do know one thing: it’s time to get my collective good intentions together and get this show on the road, once and for all. I know what I don’t like and how I don’t like to feel – time to actually make a stand, take control, and own my own health.


To that end, let me tell you about Stemple  Creek Ranch. Grass fed beef, reasonably priced, easy to obtain. If you’re in the North SF Bay area or within driving distance to Petaluma, where their butcher is, I highly recommend them. Our recent quarter came to a little over $5 per lb. Not bad for ALL the best beef. We just recently bought a pig from Clark Family Farms, also in Marin. Good pig and excellent butcher – again, Bud’s Custom Meats. They are fast, clean, reliable – just awesome. And when you go to pick up, you can stock up on game and all sorts of other really good meats from Bud’s. Venison, rabbit, sausages – they are all there. I highly recommend all of the above! Bud’s FB page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Buds-Custom-Meats/208603209156088


We also signed up for Full Circle CSA. They bought our original CSA and offered to continue with us. We LOVE them! They deliver to the house, let you order a variety of Grocery items, and are high quality. They source locally, for the most part, but do get some veg and fruits out of Mexico. Other things, like honey, dairy, etc – all local. I highly recommend them to anyone in the SF Bay Area. I understand they also have deliveries in other areas, too. Link is http://www.fullcircle.com

Food Rules

“Eating in our time has gotten complicated needlessly so, in my opinion.” So goes the opening of Michael Pollan’s book, “Food Rules.” It seems odd to have a book about the rules of eating food but perhaps rather than more rules, we need less. Less complication, less opinion, less of a lot of things. Simplicity is the order of the day.

I was browsing through the bookstore last night when I found a used copy of Pollan’s book and thought to myself, what do people think about eating in our day and age? Another book I picked up, Revolution At The Table, speaks to the changes in food and eating in America since the founding of the country. I was looking toward the past for a glimpse of the future, and the future or present was here in this other book. I bought them both.

I decided to take a wandering path through Pollan’s Food Rules and share them with you, fellow intrepid eaters of the 21st century. Maybe you agree or maybe you do not. Either way, let’s explore the present, and maybe the future, together.

The book takes Pollan’s ideas from his Omnivore’s Dilemma and creates a simple sentence on how we should eat: Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not too much. He breaks these individual parts into the rules that go with them. The first section, Part 1 – Eat Food.

The first rule is, of course, eat food. Pollan’s take on this is that it is easier said than done. What constitutes food? Food is defined as:

food

fud/ Spelled [food]

noun

1. any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.
2. more or less solid nourishment, as distinguished from liquids.
3. a particular kind of solid nourishment: a breakfast food; dog food.
4. whatever supplies nourishment to organisms: plant food.
5. anything serving for consumption or use: food for thought.

The key to this take on food is nourishment. Does the whole nourish us and help us grow? That would be a matter of science applied to food. So much of the packaged food that we get has been processed to the point of needing to have anything resembling nourishment forced back in..e.g. white bread. Yet, even the forcing of nutrients into food is considered not necessarily nourishing. Do you know where the vitamins come from that are included in these foods? Do not assume that they come from foods themselves. In the cost saving feature of our time, they most likely come from petroleum products, chemical constituents, and wood pulp. Even so, the individual chemicals we call vitamins do not make up those nourishing micronutrients our bodies need to function well.

The statement of “Eat food.” is broad and confusing in and of itself. As Pollan says, “…most of these items do not deserve to be called food – I call them edible food like substances. They’re highly processed concoctions designed by food scientists, consisting mostly of ingredients derived from corn and soy that no normal person keeps in the pantry, and they contain chemical additives with which the human body has not been long acquainted.”

Bottom line, choose ‘real’ food and avoid processing. Your carrot should look like a dirty, leafy-topped, tendril-dotted orange tuber. Not sure of what the looks like? Check this out… and marvel.

Next entry will be the second rule, and so on. We’ll discuss them in turn, when I get to them. If you have comments, I’d love to hear them.

Happy Eating!

-Kris

Wheat Belly

My chiropractor, purveyor of all things interesting to read in addition to being a great chiropractor, put me in the know with a book called “Wheat Belly,” by Dr. William Davis. You (like I was) are thinking, yet another diet book. What food is NOW off the table? We’ve all heard of low-carb, gluten-free diets, low fat, low sugar, what-ever! It’s hard to keep it all straight. I’m just looking for what makes my own body better. For those who know me, Paleo and Primal are all that – I get the science and I get the logic. I may not always practice it but I get it.

I’d say this book is different and I think I’d be right. First off, it’s written by a cardiologist. He doesn’t mince words. He gives you science and fact along side his anecdotes, and he doesn’t shy away from saying “hey, this isn’t a double-blind study but it does fit what I see.” I’m only through Chapter 3 and I have to say, I’m impressed and it makes sense to me.

Some basic tenets:

1. The wheat flour of today is not like the wheat our ancestors ate. To say “we’ve always eaten wheat so it can’t be bad” is a gross misunderstanding of modern wheat lineage and hybridization.

2. In the mid part of the 20th century, hybridization, not genetic mutation, was much of the cause of the changes in wheat, of which there are now thousands of permutations. No testing was ever done on the hybridization. It wasn’t until genetically modified food (GMF) forced companies to begin testing effects of genetic mutations that the changes of hybridization were brought to light.

3. Wheat, and other gluten high ‘flours’ cause problems for us because of the high amount of Amylopectin A (Amylopectin is in many foods, but onlywheat has high amounts of Amylopectin A), which increases the insulin response and inflammation in our bodies. Most especially, our gut.

4. Barley, rye, bulgur, kamut, and triticale are all high gluten flours in addition to wheat.

5. It’s not just wheat or grains – it’s about the inflamation that’s caused to the body by myriad things.

6. The process of body degredation can be slow, depending on genetics, environment, whatever – sugar, smoking, chemicals. And it all manifests in different ways in different people – what shows as a gluten intolerance in one person does not present the same way in another – even the classic symptoms.


Since beginning this entry, I have finished the book in its entirety. It’s not do far off what I thought and not so far away from many of the other books on primal or paleo eating out there. The one difference is that it is quite scientific. Dr. Davis does not hold back and by the end of many chapters, you feel as if you’ve been sunk into a huge bowl of alphabet soup. For me, this is a good thing. I have studied anatomy and physiology for a long time and I understand the metabolic process, perhaps not as well as a medical professional but more so than the average person. I want the science and the tech as it helps to really drive it home for me. People without this background may shy away. But dr. Davis does something incredibly helpful: he rephrases those sections which are medically heavy into digestible bites. For me, this reinforces what I think I got from the tech and solidifies my view.

Having been in the “low carb” thought process since the days of Atkins, I’d have to say that I think the science and the delivery are both becoming better. Atkins was right in a good many ways but misled and commercial – one never gets healthy eating processed chemical food suppliments. Studies later, paleo and primal are shown to have substantial foundation for the way we should eat. This book, without the inference of capitalism or commercialism, solidifies it for me. The bibliography and endnotes alone are worth the price of admission.

The biggest problem that I see with this book, and the many others out there on eating for our genetic support is “conventional wisdom.” How does a single doctor or biologist or trainer combat the establishment of big business, big government, or the lax mentality of those who won’t think differently?

I fight these same misconceptions with people I talk with about food. I have heard everything from the government wouldn’t hurt us to its written in a study therefore it must be true. Until science and business find common ground in the finance and popularity of eating properly for our body types, we are subjected to what they feed us – in print and on our plates. It’s difficult to overcome things we’ve heard our entire life – food pyramids and mom’s habits. It’s difficult to listen to the subtle reaction within our bodies to food, drink, and environment. It’s difficult to believe that something we eat over years can suddenly affect us in such negative ways. Just because it’s difficult does not make it a lie. This is our body, and the only piece of hardware we will ever get. Why not listen to it rather than big business or chemical companies?

I do not believe at food companies, chemical companies, or politicians are in a conspiracy to harm us. What we, the public, need to understand is the they do have a mission and it is not the perfect care and feeding of your body – it is the care and feeding of THEIR body. Caveat emptor is not a new concept….  it is Latin after all…

I think if we do nothing else, we should begin to do something we know to be good for us regardless of whatever people say about it, I think we should pull out a pan, break out some spinach, sauté it with some garlic and olive oil, sit down at the table, and eat it together. If we do nothing more than eat a veggie, cooked with love on our own stove, and eat it at a table with our family, tasting the earthiness of green sunlight and human connection, how can this be bad for our bodies? Be inquisitive. Be open. Be self serving when it comes to how you feed yourself.

-Kris

Some Shocking Information

The media misrepresents nutritional information. Yes, stop it, it’s true, shocking as that may be. People who receive most of their nutritional information from the media are misinformed. I’m surprised.

Yes, that’s sarcasm, hopefully well placed.

The truth is that food is one of the most volatile subjects we discuss. It ranks up there with politics and religion because, unlike these icons of conversation, we all actually must eat. Therefore, we all have a vested interest in what goes into our mouths. Yet, much of the information we follow is produced by soundbites and pod casts of various people with little or no knowledge of the entire scientific basis. We hear parts and pieces of stories, or information and data taken out of context and believe it to be the truth. Even our notions of “balanced diets” and “all four food groups” are made up from specious claims of lobbyists and media-doctors who hype their own brand of “truth.”

Why? I don’t know. I suspect that it’s all about furthering agendas and making the next big “fad” or “breakthrough.” When it comes down to it, I just want to put into my mouth those things that are necessary for me to live and live well. What my body needs is probably different from what your body needs and hence, I am eating differently. Arguing about it is fruitless and listening to the media is pointless.

Let’s take, for example, this group: Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine. Sounds good, doesn’t? Sounds like a bunch of doctors sitting around and pronouncing judgment on food and medicine specifically aimed at our (the common public) well-being. Hmm. Not many people dig deeper. Their website looks good as does their ABOUT section. Then, I read what the AMA has to say about them: “Our AMA registers strong objections to the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine for …misrepresenting the critical role animals play in research and teaching…”

Okay, so more to think about. Then there is the Center for Consumer Freedom. This site is dedicated to consumer knowledge and letting the consumer make the choice. They don’t like PCRM either. Do I believe them, because they are a non-profit without an obvious agenda? Heck, I don’t know. There’s another group to get information from, the American Council on Science and Health. Yet another non-profit group. I am sure they have their own agenda, too. Who to believe? No wonder it’s so easy to just believe whatever newspapers and TVs tell us – the truth is rarely easy to uncover.

It’s easy to get into discussions and arguments with friends and family alike about food. I’ve been slammed by many people for my “odd” ways of eating and thinking about food. And since I’m obviously not the picture of the perfect human body, I haven’t gotten it right. It seems we use people’s external appearance as the measuring stick of how much they know about food and eat properly. I’m sure that’s a whole other blog post. For now, let’s just leave it at the fact that none of us knows and that sometimes, it’s not even worth discussing amongst ourselves.

So, what is a 21st Century eater to do? Do I go to governmental agencies who provide me the synopsis of food research papers which are funded by special interest groups and lobbyists, food companies and big agra? Do I go straight to the reports themselves which may in and of themselves be tainted by unclear or specious assumptions about food? Do I read historical evidence about food, empirical studies, or Wikipedia?  Can we ever break out of the idea that our ideas about food may be set in stone, without real foundation, and that we need to rethink the paradigm? Maybe we can take Omnivore’s Dilemma (and its huge sales) as hope that questioning should be our first priority.

I think the bottom line is that we should question. We should look at the data and ask what is behind it? What was the foundation for the assumptions? Then, we should take that data and apply it to ourselves. we should keep reading, and read with an open mind. What we might have assumed to be true really isn’t. For example, read this book (Good Calories, Bad Calories) and see if you find something that makes sense… to you. Because…

We are, in the end, what matters. How does that food make our body feel? How does it help our body perform, or not perform? Does it keep me healthy and strong? Does it promote the health of those around me and the health of the planet? It’s probably pretty good, then. Chomp down and chomp away. Live to your best, eat well, and enjoy.