Happy & Fructose Free

Spreading Hope for Anyone Affected by Fructose Malabsorption

The Meat, Carb & Dairy Trap – A World Without Fruits & Veggies…

The Meat, Carb & Dairy Trap (as I am calling it) is a food battle that I am still figuring a way out of.  A Fructose Malabsorber’s world while trying to adhere to the strictest of diets can easily turn into this crazy unhealthy food trap.  A world without fruits & veggies is one that is full of sadness, and since my realization that Fructose Malabsorption IS Irritable Bowel Syndrome I have been testing my limits with the naturally delicious fruits and veggies that tempt me daily…

Here are some tidbits I have discovered during my daily food experiments that will hopefully help uncover the answer to your own complicated tummy puzzle & avoid falling into the dreaded…  Meat, Carb & Dairy Trap!!!

1.)  Wheat turns into fructose when it gets broken down in your gut.  

As an admitted carb-oholic who lived as a vegetarian for a solid decade, I love CARBS!  Pasta, English Muffins, Bread, Crackers, Cookies… you name the carb and I am so there!  The trick to not getting sick is that they must be enjoyed in small quantities, spread out throughout the day & NEVER trust it if you can’t read the ingredients.  HFCS is lurking around every corner in processed-carb-land.  Be very very careful.

2.)  Lactose and Fructose are sugar relatives, if you will.

Though I’m not a full blown Lactose Intolerant, I am sensitive to it so I always keep some lactase pills (the enzyme with breaks down lactose in our gut) with me if I am having a dairy splurge.  Cheese and ice cream are two food groups in my diet (yes, food groups… mmm).  Did you know that if a cheese shows zero grams of carbs on its nutrition information that it is technically free of lactose?  Lactose is a sugar and therefore a carb… food for thought 🙂

Speaking of ice cream…

Always be leery of anything in the frozen isle.  HFCS frequently hides here too.  If you are looking for a yummy and simple ice cream, I always have Breyer’s All Natural Vanilla and Mint Chip in my freezer.  Just a few simple ingredients and absolutely amazing!  I must note that it is full fat ice cream so moderation is key because…

3.)  Fat is not an IBS / FMr’s friend.

Red meats, cheese, delicious potato chips (which I had for dinner… guilty), butter & full fat ice creams are all culprits in the fat department.  From an FMr’s standpoint, it is best to avoid red meats, and moderate all other fat sources.  The all-encompassing theme with this type of lifestyle is… Eat a variety of tolerated foods in moderation over many small meals during the day. 

4.)  The issue of getting enough fiber.  

Knowing that FM is a branch of IBS, it is worth noting there are two extremes in the IBS universe: loose bowel movements or no bowel movements.  I fall into the not so many movements category, so I need fiber desperately, but I can’t have most natural sources of fiber because they are all contaminated with fructose (aahhhh!!!)  What’s a person to do?  Culturelle probiotics work well, but they get pricey quickly.  Chia seeds are great and I eat them all the time, but they just aren’t enough for me.

The solution to my tummy puzzle is a single cup of light roast coffee in the morning (which I take with a tsp of sugar and a dash of Land O’ Lakes Fat Free Half & Half  since theirs has the fewest ingredients.)   While most people drink coffee to wake up their brain, the caffeine jump-starts my IBS system.  A second cup… then I’m sick 😦   So K-Cups are brilliant for me, but depending on which variety of IBS you lean towards, caffeine can actually be harmful by making a runny situation even worse.

5.)  Fruits and veggies are NOT the enemy.  

I have struggled with this trap of meat, carbs and dairy since I first got diagnosed (which for me quickly evolved into just carbs and dairy because most meats are chewy… that is besides the point).  I recently found I could tolerate many more fruits and veggies than I originally imagined.

Fresh spinach is always on hand at our house, and I try to eat a salad every day with shoestring carrots (just a small handful), sunflower seeds, either Feta or Parmesan cheese depending on my mood, with some homemade dressing (the easiest variety is one-third yellow mustard, one-third unseasoned rice vinegar or distilled white & one-third olive oil, then season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar and I always add some dried herbs because I’m crazy).

I can have a few slices of cucumber, zucchini or green pepper, and I eat celery and cook with scallions all of the time.  Oh!  Can’t forget avocado!  Avocados are very interesting from the FMr’s perspective…  They have more fructose than glucose, but their quantities are soooo small that the ratio doesn’t really matter as long as you don’t eat the whole thing… they are nature’s butter after all … see note 3 🙂

And fruit is a little more tricky…

but now that it is officially berry season and I have painfully little self control… more often than not when I walk past the display of amazing smelling strawberries at the store I just can’t help myself.  But I have learned through multiple times of getting sick that I can have 2 strawberries and a 3rd will send me running for the bathroom.  I buy them fresh sometimes, but I always have frozen and freeze dried berries on hand to cook with when I’m feeling fruit deprived.
Here’s a yummy recipe for you fruit cravers out there!

Berry Oatmeal Breakfast Cake:

Serves 8 or 1 soon-to-be-sick Fructose Intolerant person who ate the whole thing… don’t do that.  Moderation Is The Key!)

Ingredients:

1-1/3 Cup AP Flour (Gluten Free AP Flours are great too)
3/4 Cup Quick Cooking Oats
1/3 Cup Sugar (you can add some dextrose too if you’d like, since it can only help)
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Milk (I love Silk Pure Almond!  I cook with the unsweetened original & drink the sweetened vanilla or chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth)
1/4 Oil (I like canola in this application)
1 Egg
1 Cup Frozen Blueberries, Strawberries or Raspberries (keep frozen until ready to add to batter)

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 400*F and grease an 8″ or 9″ round baking dish.
2.)  Combine dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl, and in a separate bowl combine wet ingredients (milk through egg).  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until the batter is slightly lumpy but uniformly moistened.
3.)  Fold in the frozen berries (chop the strawberries into smaller pieces if using) then pour into prepared pan.
4.)  Cook for 20 – 25 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the pan and it looks golden brown and delicious on top.
5.)  Cool on rack for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
I hope that all of this information is helpful, and if you are craving something that you really shouldn’t have let me know.

I love an FM food challenge so email me at HappyAndFructoseFree@Gmail.com with your food craves 🙂

Happy Berry Season!

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What I’ve Learned In My First Year… & Some Very Helpful Books

So I have officially made it to my 1 Year Anniversary of being a Fructose Malabsorber, a diagnosis that has changed my life drastically.

I started this blog a year ago because I want to be a positive resource for people who are struggling to keep their tummies happy, just like I do every day.  It is hard, there is no way around it.  And I’ve been sick a lot, despite my best efforts to keep on a strict diet.

I had a “Lightbulb!” moment a couple weeks ago, and though I’m embarrassed it took me so long to put these pieces together, I’m going to suck up my pride and share this with you in the event you find yourself continually sick while trying your best following the “Formal Food List.”

Here it is… I am fructose intolerant.  I was given a food list, but I never really understood how my diagnosis fit it or compared to the larger diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrom.  My understanding of it now…

Fructose Malabsorption IS Irritable Bowel with an Extra Focus on Fructose! 

Open the flood gates to piles of  books on IBS, FODMAPs and Tummy-Friendly Recipes!!!  These resources are wonderful!  I purchased The Complete Idiots Guide to Eating Well with IBS (which I LOVE).  It is a fun read and bursting with useful information.  Now I know that the historically “safe” “staple” carbs in my diet are likely the source of my continued tummy trouble.  I am not intolerant of wheat, BUT wheat is a fructan (which turns into fructose once gets broken down in your gut), and must be eaten in moderation (which is my second problem…*guilty face*).

Here are the books I am excited to read in my 2nd year as a Fructose Malabsorber…

Click on the book to be linked to the associated Amazon page 🙂

Eating Well with IBS

IBS Free At LastLow FODMAP Diet

And as always, please feel free to email me at HappyFructoseFree@gmail.com if you have any specific questions or just want an understanding person to listen to your story.  I am happy to help in any way I can 🙂

Happy Tummies For All in 2013!

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Fructose Free Staples: Part V

Daily Multivitamin & Probiotic Dietary Supplement

When many fruits & veggies go off the menu permanently it should be no surprise that you absolutely need to take a multivitamin & probiotic to maintain your health. The challenge is finding safe products and remembering to take them everyday.

Vitafusion is an allergy-friendly brand in general (all of their gummy vitamins are completely free of wheat, gluten, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts & soy) and their daily multivitamins are made with sugar so I these fit right into a Fructose Malabsorber’s lifestyle.

Did I mention that they are gummies?  Healthy, chewy, and sweet, these vitamins take me back to my childhood and make this daily necessity something to look forward to 🙂

Culturelle makes a number of great probiotics that are fantastic for everybody, since, let’s be honest, we all could use a little help maintaining the bacteria balance in our digestive systems.

On top of that, there is a capsule made specifically for those of us with some common dietary needs!  Look for the little banner at the top of the box that says “Dairy and Gluten Free.”  No yogurt needed, and we still get all of the benefits.  Hooray!

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Fructose Free Staples: Part IV

Mouthwash

We Fructose Free Folks may not be able to eat garlic or onions, but food breath is food breath and it is a social necessity to be fresh.

I was completely addicted to gum, but after I got diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption I flipped over every pack of gum I could get my hands on… every brand and every flavor out of dozens of gums, all of them had sorbitol and nearly all of them had sucralose~The key to success is always learning~  Check out my update at the end of this post 🙂

~ My beloved lunch “dessert” was making me just as sick as my lunch! ~

Mouthwash is the best replacement for gum that I’ve found… but we still have to be on the lookout for sneaky sucralose and sorbitol solutionsOur mouths are very absorbent, so putting a fructose ingredient under your tongue may or may not affect your tummy, but why risk it?

I’m certain there additional brands and flavors out there, but here are a few mouth rinses that you won’t have to worry about.

Scope Outlast is my choice for mouthwashes with alcohol since it contains no fructose ingredients.

Crest Pro Health Complete is my choice for alcohol free rinses if you are OK with added coloring.  It also contains no fructose.

Crest Pro Health Multi-Protection – Clear Mint is my choice for alcohol free and dye free mouthwashes.

This one lists sucralose as the third-to-last inactive ingredient, and since this is my personal rinse of choice, I can say that this minimal amount of sucralose has not caused any bubbles for me.

Feel confident in the world without gum, and be

Happy Minty Fresh! 🙂

~The key to success is always learning~ Update Added 1/09/12

I have some happy news!!!  THERE IS GUM out there if you can tolerate some corn syrup (not the High Fructose kind, of course). 

These are not gums that 4 out 5 dentists would approve of, though.  Alas… none of the  teeth-friendly sugar free gums will work since they all have “-tols”/sugar alcohols like xylitol or mannitol, but the old-school gums like Big Red, Double Mint and Juicy Fruit that are sweetened with real sugar are certainly an option when used with caution… caution for your tummy, certainly, but also for your teeth!  They do cause quite a bit of added plaque, so you can still enjoy a half piece of Spearmint gum when you are on the go and need a breath pick-me-up, but also make sure to floss 🙂

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Fructose Free Staples: Part III

It is wonderful to make everything from scratch, but having convenient fructose free pantry staples are important to maintaining your health and your sanity on those crazy-busy days.

Here is another installment of the Fructose Free Staples that keep me Happy 🙂

Cereal

 

~The key to success is always learning~ Please check out the updates at the end of this post 🙂

I have been addicted to cereal for as long as I can remember.  Going though each level of my dietary-needs evolution I lost more and more of my beloved breakfast options every time.  Fructose malabsorption is doubly tricky in the morning because even the cereals that are organic, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free often times use honey, molasses, or fruit to sweeten them.

Thankfully, I already had Gluten Free Rice Krispies in my pantry after I got my Fructose Malabsorption diagnosis, and I stumbled upon the toasted oats cereal by Full Circle when I had to ditch my Rice and Corn Chex.  Both are crispy, light and perfectly satisfying with milk or on their own as a late morning snack.

Hooray for Fructose Free Breakfast!

Instant Rice

Yes, a rice cooker and good ol’ fashioned long grain rice is delicious, but there are (many) days that I simply don’t have that kinda time to wait around.

In addition to their instant rice, Minute Brand now has super convenient single portion cups that only take a minute in the microwave and they come in an array of flavors.  We fructose free folks are best to stick with the plain white and brown rice versions.  Quick note, the Ready to Serve Cups do contain soy.

Peanut Butter

I know… PEANUTS are not PISTACHIOS (the only nut that is OK’d for people living a fructose free lifestyle), but transitioning from a vegetarian lifestyle I absolutely cannot live without peanut butter.  Small steps…

This particular natural peanut butter from Skippy only uses sugar to sweeten, and it doesn’t require stirring.  Easy, delicious, and affordable!

If you have access to freshly made nut butters, go for it!  They are awesome and are certainly the healthiest option, but I find that this peanut butter is a “Happy (Fructose Free) Medium.”

Please remember to test your tolerance with peanuts before diving in, and always Enjoy in Moderation 🙂

~The key to success is always learning~ Updated 10/14/12

Over the past few months I realized that I don’t digest brown rice very well.  Luckily I can still work with normal wheat flour.  Here are a few more cereals that are free of honey, brown sugar/molasses, and dried fruits.

My new favorite cereal is Special K – Original.  The first ingredient is rice, and it has lots of added vitamins and minerals (including iron which I am having a tough time getting enough of right now), plus fiber which all Fructose Malabsorbers need.  ~This cereal contains wheat and milk products~

Here are a couple sweetened cereals that I have found to be safe for my tummy.  *As always, please test your tolerance first and enjoy in moderation*

Craving Chocolate?  Bear River Valley – All Natural Cereals makes an excellent version of Cocoa Pebbles called “Choco Chomp.”  The name might be a little silly sounding, but this delightful cereal soothes my chocolate urges frequently and has earned a permanent spot in my kitchen.  I love it!  To keep my portions under control I often add a 1/4 cup to a bowl of Special K.  Plus you still get some yummy chocolate milk afterwards a without a ton of extra sugar.  Oh happiness! 🙂 ~This cereal does contain wheat~

Craving Cinnamon?  Cascadian Farm Organics makes a convincing version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, called “Cinnamon Crunch” that uses whole grain wheat and only sugar with dextrose (which is our friend) to sweeten.  Amazing!  I find these make perfect portable snacks, but it is sooo hard to stop eating them.   I would recommend getting some snack-sized zip-top bags to avoid any self-control related sickness (Been there, done that.  Totally worth it, but now I try to prevent it :)).  ~This cereal contains both wheat and soy~

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Fructose Free Staples: Part I

We all have busy lives. It is a known fact, and when fructose malabsoption is also a fact of life… convenience flies out the window. But there is no reason you have to go hungry!

Check out these quick, easy, healthy kitchen staples that make my life loads easier.  I absolutely cannot live without….

Tortillas

These tortillas made their way into my home after ridding my house of gluten, and they have remained after three more more dietary needs were added. These are a winner! This particular brand of tortilla hides in the freezer section of my local health foods store.

It is not necessary to purchase the expensive tortillas. If you can tolerate a certain brand of flour tortillas, go for it!

~The key to success is always learning~ Please check out the updates at the end of this post 🙂

The best thing about tortillas is they are a blank canvas. If I need a filling dinner to-go, I snag a tortilla from the fridge with some precooked lentils or beans, whatever seasonings I feel like that day, some baby spinach, and some cheese (I use Daiya Brand since it is dairy and soy free… its not the same as real cheese, but as far as I’m concerned the people who came up with it are magicians).

Pop it open faced in the microwave for 1 minute, and roll it up so the melty cheese seals it at the top. Done! 🙂

Box Potatoes

Rarely a day goes by where I do not have a serving of this fast, warm, carb-y deliciousness.  It is a great post-11-hour-work-day snack so I can think rationally about dinner instead of giving into the fructose loaded salsa and corn chips that are lurking around the corner.

As a bonus, if you use water instead of milk and olive oil instead of butter it is very low in calories and fat, and you can jazz it up with some onion or garlic water (instructions coming soon), homemade veggie stock, or any number of herbs and spices.

If you are also lactose intolerant, beware of other instant potato brands as I have found several that contain milk and butter in dried form.

More staples to come 🙂

~The key to success is always learning~ Update Added 10/13/12

Since I posted these first staples I have learned that I, personally, cannot digest brown rice very well but I seem to handle standard wheat flour, white rice, and quinoa okay.  Always listen to your tummy when finding your own happy foods list. Keeping a food journal is very helpful in determining patterns since often the symptoms won’t show up for a day or two.  

Transitioning away from vegetarian lifestyle continues to be the hardest part of living with Fructose Intolerance for me, personally.  Previously I note lentils and beans as suitable options, however my body does much better with shredded chicken as the protein (I would recommend poaching some chicken breast, shredding it, and freezing it in individual portions).  The problem with lentils, beans and chick peas is they are Galactans, which contain multiple chains of sugars that all people have trouble breaking down into digestible components.  Anyone with a digestive disorder and associated gastrointestinal upset will be better served by staying away from these vegetarian staples. 

If you are/were a vegetarian and live with Fructose Malabsorption I would love to hear from you so we can share techniques of sneaking more meat onto our plates.  Please email me at happyfructosefree@gmail.com

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