Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fructose Malabsorption

The diet was coming along well, everyone in the family was improving (including poor Brian who was just put on special diet, too), but our bodies were not satisfied. No, our genes demanded more.

We cannot be normal; of course not. Our bodies must be unique, different, special!

Our bodies must be a pain in the ass.

Dang it, dang it, dang it. We were doing so well, really we were, and then the kids started having problems. So I got on the research train again and found another food issue to explore: Fructose malabsorption. Oh joy.

Now, this is NOT a fruit thing. Yes, fructose is in fruit, but it's also in grains and vegetables and legumes and the entire darn edible world, essentially. Except meat. Carnivores everywhere rejoice, I'm sure.

The real issue for this condition is the ratio between fructose and glucose. Higher percentage of fructose compared to glucose, higher likelihood your life is gonna suck like a hoover for the next few days. The medical sites all discuss the 'gut' symptoms of this. That's their concern.

The parents whose kids have this? The majority I've read about didn't really notice the gut symptoms at first. They all discuss the fact that fructose malabsorption made their children lose their freaking minds. It changes the children's behavior to such an extent that the parents are contemplating infanticide just to get one, drama-free moment in their day.

And why is that?

When a person doesn't digest the majority of the fructose they consume, it moves happily on down the gut, and its presence interferes with the absorption of tryptophan. Since your body needs this to make serotonin and melatonin, you'll be short on these two for a day or so after you get too much fructose. And you will feel like crap as a result.

I am right there with all the parents. I wasn't noticing any gut issues, but the mood issues were through the roof! Nearly every time my kids had a lot of fruit, or coconut, or broccoli, or agave syrup, or honey - life exploded. And then there'd be times they'd lose their minds for no reason I could figure out. It's truly hard to describe how I can tell it's not just a normal 'bad day,' but there is an intensity, and an inability to regain control, that always goes along with this.

It's like pure angst has been poured into their veins and is bleeding out the pores.

Every tiny little thing sets them off. They wake up in a foul mood and stay that way for the rest of the day. Angry outbursts, huge bouts of weeping, no frustration tolerance, ADHD-like symptoms, difficulty sleeping. And then a day or two later, and it's gone.

It was happening so often, and from so many foods, that I was tearing out my hair trying to figure it out.

But then I happened across Fructose Malabsorption (dietary, not inherited), and woah baby does it fit the bill.

Lots of the kids' outbursts correlated to foods on bad list for this condition. And to add to the likelihood of their having it, in studies, 30-40% of people with any gut symptoms test positive for this. And celiac disease and food intolerances are considered possible causes for this, although the study results on that are more correlation than causation, at the moment.

In Australia, it's on the 'automatic test for this' list when people come in with gut symptoms. And here in the States...I've never heard of this in my life. Doctors don't usually even consider it. In fact, I was just reading from a FructMal gal and there is only one lab in her entire state that will do this test.

Once again, I'm so proud of my country's medical community. It brings a tear to my eye. Literally.

So, guess what we have to add to our list of things to consider?

This Diet

So far, my kids seem like they have mild levels of fructose malabsorption, with my son reacting more than my daughter. But now that I'm aware of what has too much fructose and what doesn't, and have been attempting to adjust the diet accordingly, things have been SO much better.

I swear, I might as well become a Dietician at this rate, I have to find out so much about food and nutrition!

For anyone interested in this condition, here's a few good links:
Fructose Malabsorption Yahoo Group - This group is Australia based, but has some great resources, research, and information, especially for parents!

Fruct Mal Blogger - This gal is great. She's had this condition for years, long before the medical community had identified it, so she has a lot of information and personal experience.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I am getting more energy, so I am trying new foods. Really, really odd new foods, but necessity is the mother of invention, isn't it?

And didn't that just make me sound like my Nana, eh?

So today I made...meatloaf! Not for the kids, but meatloaf for ME. Which was rather like figuring out how to make ice cream when all you can eat is milk and snow peas.

It's not pretty, but wow was it awesome to eat. This sucker is gluten free, tomato free, sugarcane free, and egg free, but I imagine the flavor is mild unless you've been on a limited diet for a while like myself.

GF, tomato free, sugarcane free, egg free Meatloaf
What you need:
2 pounds ground meat (I used buffalo)
1 large sweet potato or yam, cooked and puréed (I baked mine like a baked potato)
1/2 cup uncooked, or 1 cup cooked, whole grain (I used quinoa and amaranth)
sea salt to taste

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Get out a loaf pan. You can oil the bottom of it or not, your choice. I didn't bother since I have limited oil I can use.
2. Mix the meat, the salt, and the puréed sweet potato together. If you have any other seasonings you can use, this would be the time to add them in.
3. If you prefer to use uncooked whole grain, pour them into the bottom of the pan and spread them out until they evenly covers the bottom. If you prefer to used already cooked grains, mix them into the meat mixture.
4. Press the meat mixture into the pan and pop that sucker into the oven. Depending on the grains used, the size of the sweet potato, and your altitude, it can take from 45 - 70 minutes to cook. Mine was done about 50 minutes.

The texture is soft, and the flavor was like an extremely mild BBQ sauce added to the meat. Some grains go better with the meat than others. Rice does very well, quinoa does all right, but amaranth doesn't blend well, flavor-wise, with certain meats.

Rotation Diet Tip

It's not perfect, but you can use this while you are on a rotation diet, as well. I have only one meat, but two grains, so I put one grain in half the meatloaf, and one grain in the other half. Then I could eat it more than one day in a row, and it really cut down on cooking. Of course, there will be a little mixing of the food in the juices, but I was willing to cheat a bit on that.

I think it could be made so that the juices didn't mix, however, if you put a little tinfoil barrier in between the two different grains, or perhaps use two different grains and meats both and enclose each half in tinfoil and put them in the same pan together. Always nice to cook once and eat twice.

7/3/10 - An additional tip. Use the red sweet potatoes as opposed to the pale fleshed ones. The taste is much better!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Simple Soup for Allergy Sufferers

I don't know why I never thought of this before, but I didn't. I can make soup. As in, soup that I can actually consume vs. soup the family eats but I avoid like the deadly plague that it is.

I have meat. I have a few veggies. I have water - why not make soup?

Today, I finally did it for the first time. And it is awesome. Real soup. I haven't had soup in 6 months. This is...beyond cool. Wonderful. And I think it is easily adapted for most high allergen diets.

For any other cooking-challenged, multi-allergy sufferers, here's the basic recipe idea:

Simple Soup
What you need:
A meat source - beef, chicken, buffalo, etc...
A few vegetables - if you have a veggie that can be boiled, you can stick it in a soup.
Whatever seasonings you can use - mine is salt, yee ha.

What you do:
1. Chop everything up and stick it in a big pot. Add the seasonings. Add water to cover, and then add that much again.

2. Bring to a boil and then lower this to a simmer, leaving the cover off. You want to boil this down until a broth develops with a nice flavor. Reminder: that means that whatever seasonings you add will be concentrated, so you don't want to add too much, too early.

3. Cook until it reaches the desired flavor. This is typically 1-3 hours, depending on what altitude you're at.

Points for Variety:
--I didn't mention fish or shellfish in the meat category mostly because I don't know much about them, and because so many people have allergies to them. If you used seafood, I have a feeling that you might have to put it in a little later in the process so it didn't get too rubbery/chewy by the end of the cooking. Or put it in early, scoop it out once cooked, and put it back in after the broth has concentrated, just long enough to warm it through.

--You may have to experiment with what veggies you can have, to find the right taste combination. There are definitely a few that don't work out so well, LOL. Beets, for example, will turn everything an interesting shade of bright purple-pink. Tomatoes, if you can find them, are almost always a nice addition.

-- You can add beans, hominy, or lentils to the equation as an addition, or as an alternative protein source (probably tofu, as well, although I don't know how well it would stand up). If you get dried beans or hominy, soak them in water overnight and then add them in at the beginning of cooking. The higher altitude you are, the longer it will take to cook the beans. For lentils, look up cooking time for them and add when you have that much time left. Small red lentils (like these) typically take 5-10 minutes or less to cook and make a pretty addition.

--You can add cooked grains to individual bowls just before serving. Rice and quinoa both do well in the soups I've tried, although I needed a stronger flavor to go well with the quinoa.

--Something from your local environment might be edible too! For example, I live in a desert in the SW United States. We have local trees called Palo Verde, and most people don't realize that when their seeds are still green, they can be cooked and eaten just like peas. Checking out the more exotic 'wild' foods in your area may be worth a try if you are reacting to everything under the sun, like myself

--A bit of sour, like lemon/lime juice, or vinegar, can add a little zing to your soup if you add it after you've boiled the soup down and turned off the heat.

--If you like sour and can't have citrus or vinegar, you might want to check out Amchur powder (you can find it here). It's powdered mango, used in Indian cooking, and adds a pleasant sour flavor to the food. It will need to be a cooked just a little to impart the flavor nicely. You can find it at Indian grocery stores, as well.

--Same with a bit of plain yogurt (dairy, soy, or coconut), if you can have it, added to the soup after it's in the bowls. The sour goes well with strong but darker flavors (especially lentils).

--If you are VERY limited in your diet right now but can have a few root vegetables, I recommend checking out your root vegetables fully on-line. Many of them have edible tops, if you buy the organic kind (the non-organic often have higher pesticide concentration in the greens, I understand). Carrots and beets are two good examples of those with edible tops.*

*a small percentage of people have a contact allergy to green tops of carrots. If touching the greens gives you the tingles or a rash, obviously these aren't the foods for you.

As for what soup I made? This would be the recipe for my particular diet, for those who might need something similar.

Simple Buffalo Soup
What you need:
2 pounds ground buffalo
4 carrots, scraped(or peeled) and roughly chopped
chopped carrot tops (greens) from half of 1 bunch of carrots
1 yellow sweet potato, chopped
sea salt to taste

What you do:
1. Dump all of these in a big pot. Pour in enough water to cover, and then add that much again.

2. Turn the heat on high until it reaches a boil and then turn it down to a simmer. Reminder again to not put the lid on so the water evaporates and helps with getting the broth concentrated. There'll be a bit of foam on the top of the water, usually. You can skim it or not. I don't, because I need every nutrient I can get, and I figure there's gotta be something in that I can use. It'll mix back into the soup eventually, anyway.

3. Simmer until the soup meets your taste requirements. At about 3,000 feet, it took me approximately 2 hours to cook it down so the broth tasted like soup instead of flavored water. The sweet potatoes lose a bit of their flavor, so they tasted more like regular potatoes to me, which I liked. The broth is rather rich, in my opinion, but then again, I haven't had any broth in a while, so that may be affecting my perception of it!

Of note in both recipes: The veggies are VERY soft after all this cooking, obviously. I liked them that way, and I wanted the flavor to enter the broth, so I kept them in from the beginning.

However, if you didn't want that, I would suggest making a veggie-broth first with your own veggies (Do everything the same but omit the meat/protein source, then strain out the veggies. Mash them through a sieve to get every last drop of liquid out.). You could then use the broth, add more meat and veggies, and simply cook until they were cooked through.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stupid, meet Stupider

Yesterday I cheated. I'm out, I'm starving - which is no excuse and I know it - and I got Terra Brand Sweet Potato Chips. Just sweet potatoes and one of three oils. I can eat sweet potatoes, I can eat those oils without too much reaction, I thought. What's the harm?

Hunger and stupidity took over, rather like Keanu in the movie Speed, where a bomb will go off if the bus drops below 50 miles an hour. My hunger was yelling in my ear, "I'm hungry! Don't stop eating! Grab it now and keep going! EAT!"

I felt So Damn Sick afterward. Darn it! Sicker than I've been in a while.

So today while I was reading up on various chips and such, I come across this information: Terra chips are not made on a dedicated line, so are not safe for little hyper-spaz-reactive bodies like mine. Might explain why I felt like death reheated in a microwave after eating them. I've tried all three of the oils involved, and had mild reactions, so I really wasn't expecting it.

It's a good reminder: when your body is freaking out, don't let there be any doubt. Call the company up. I need a catchier slogan so I can remember. Anyone still recall that 'give a hoot, don't pollute' slogan from decades ago? I need one of those to tattoo on my arm.

When in doubt, don't freak out.

Except that has no meaning whatsoever, so I suppose I'll have to file it under work in progress and carry on. Let's hope I can move on while keeping to my diet.

At the moment, I'm trying to help with that by putting my silly little post-it's around the house, haranguing me at every turn.

"Family is worth the effort." - Did I mention I become the wicked witch of the west with some of my bad foods?

"Bowl of glass" - Yes, thinking of the 'bad' foods like a bowl of glass DOES help. Sometimes.

"You're health is worth it. Don't cheat. Idiot." Well, the idiot is implied, usually.

If I move these around so that they don't become too familiar, it helps me think before something like this happens.

So does eating before I leave the house.