Friday, April 11, 2014

Where to begin with IBS

Week 1 is behind me and I feel loads better being on this new eating plan!

If you have IBS or think you do, there are several things you can do right now to start feeling better right away.

Probably one of the first places to begin improving digestion is to minimize, or remove entirely, common stomach irritants such as coffee, alcohol, pepper, spicy foods and anything you already know you're sensitive to. At least for a little while. After some time you may be able to bring these foods back.

The FODMAP diet removes the other common gastric system upsetters that many people have trouble with: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, leeks, shallots, and garlic, unfortunately, as well as other less commonly known irritants: carbohydrates / sugars from fruit, lactose, and gluten, to name a few. 

Another way to minimize discomfort is to eat more frequent but smaller meals. Eating too much at one sitting causes stress on the digestive system, having a lot to suddenly handle.

Avoid carbonated beverages, especially if you have excess gas.

Engage in non-strenuous exercise - walking, easy cycling, tai chi or yoga - until you feel better and can do more strenuous exercise. A hard workout just isn't good when you're feeling weak and don't want to rattle your stomach. But not exercising at all just isn't wise, especially when you have had IBS for months or years. I find that gentle forms of exercise can usually be well-tolerated. When I'm not feeling up to par, I go for a long walk and do some stretching. Something is better than nothing.

Getting proper sleep and learning to relax are also key to calming the digestive tract. I will go to bed a little earlier than usual and just read to relax.

So in addition to the above, here's what I've done: I have adhered strictly to the FODMAP eating plan except for one thing. I ate some non-dairy cherry "ice cream" forgetting that cherries are currently out. Can't say I can report any specific symptoms from that. 

What did me in though is the cream I put in my coffee the last 2 mornings. (Yes, I'm occasionally still drinking coffee. It's a hard one to give up). Anyway, I digress. FODMAP says that cream is a better additive than the milk in half and half (the milk contains a ton of lactose). On Wednesday I did ok with it but not yesterday. Two days in a row is apparently too much for me. Back to tea for a few days. Then I don't know what I'm going to do about my morning coffee. All those non-dairy creamers taste horrible, especially soy creamer, and they have such terrible ingredients. This is such a total bummer. 

But I can report that overall, this FODMAP thing is working. Part of this process is learning what I can tolerate and what I can't. It's looking a lot like lactose is a problem.

For the elimination portion of this eating plan, I have 5 weeks to go. Then comes the "food challenge" part. But more on that in future posts.

On to the recipe.

If you've followed me for some time, you know that on the weekends I sometimes like to whip up a batch of muffins for breakfast. They are quick to make - you can usually pop one into your mouth inside an hour. I don't usually eat a lot of pineapple but I just happened to have a can in my pantry and since pineapple is on the FODMAP list of acceptable fruits and contains digestive enzymes which I figured couldn't hurt, I decided to make these. They are also gluten-free. Best eaten the day they are made.

Pineapple Muffins

1 cup fine rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup potato flour (I didn't have any so I used tapioca flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
One can crushed pineapple, drained (reserve liquid)
3/4 cup suitable yogurt
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper baking liners. Sift the rice flour, cornstarch, potato flour, baking soda, baking powder, and xanthan gum three times in a medium bowl (or mix with a whisk to ensure they are well combined). Add the sugar and mix until well combined.

Break the eggs into a second bowl and whisk. Using a large spoon, stir in the melted butter, pineapple and yogurt. Fold into the flour mixture.

Spoon the batter into the muffin liners. Bake for 15-20 min until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 min before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Combine the confectioners' sugar with enough of the reserved pineapple liquid to form a smooth spreadable icing. Drizzle over the cooled muffins and serve.

Makes 12. Each has about 270 calories, and 49g carbs. To cut the carbs and calories, I didn't glaze mine.

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