The Happy Foods List (A Work in Progress)

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

After my last post, The Well-Rounded Mama asked me in comments whether I had plans to do a post about what stuff I can eat without tummy trouble. Why, yes, in fact, I did. And here it is.

Now, bear in mind a few things:

One, I haven’t tested everything yet in isolation, particularly some fruits that are out of season. I’ll be marking a few items as subjects for future research.

Also, I’m still trying to figure out for how long a problem food is going to continue giving me problems; I’ve been known to have asplodey after one bite of an ostensibly safe food, or even after drinking water. Eating or drinking anything is bound to stimulate the gastrocolic reflex, especially if it’s feeling particularly sensitive (as mine does for the first few hours after I get up). But chances are pretty good that if asplodey happens immediately, it has a lot more to do with something I ate quite a while before that. Maybe even a few days before that, for all I know; transit time can be tough to pin down.

And I’m not going to discount stress — including the unbelievable amounts of stress I was subjected to pre-aspie-diagnosis — as a factor in stomach upset, either. Not to mention decades of ibuprofen and naproxen overuse for my killer cramps because my first GYN scared me by saying, “There’s a death rate on the Pill.” (Right, doc, and there’s no “death rate” on hurting so badly every three weeks that you want to yank your uterus out and flush it down the john?) Nor have I ruled out the possibility that my problems could be a harbinger of something more serious, and I’m actually strongly considering getting scoped in order to rule that out. But when I’ve eaten something my southern half disagrees with, I do start getting inklings of it pretty quickly.

So here goes:

Stuff I can eat when I first get up: Hoo boy, this has been the landmine for me. For a long time, I was getting up so late that my breakfast was my partner’s dinner. I’ve since realized that I can’t really do that; I have to acclimate my digestive tract to the fact that it’s expected to receive nutrition after being in a stupor for the last 9 (give or take) hours. Now I make sure there’s at least a few hours between the time I get up and the time I eat dinner-type foods, and I make sure to have something small first. I’ve tried high-protein breakfasts, mixed carbs and protein, just carbs, high fat, low fat, medium fat, big breakfasts, little breakfasts, medium-sized breakfasts, fruit-only breakfasts…you name it.

And this is what I’ve come up with: The best thing for me is a small bowl of gluten-free cereal and some hemp or soy milk, and if I handle that okay, follow it up half an hour later with some berries (frozen if off-season). My favorite is Mesa Sunrise Flakes, which I get in economy bags from the local hippie stores; they taste great, and I’ve never had any belly rebellion after eating them. If I have to dash and don’t have time for that, I carry some raw cashews and some Mary’s Gone Crackers with me, and eat either or both them when I get peckish. I may look for a different GF cracker besides MGC, though; they taste fine, but sometimes they make my teeth hurt. (If you have recommendations, feel free to share.)

Stuff I don’t know about because I haven’t had a chance to test it yet: Cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, melons, grapefruits (who knows; oranges seem to be on the “no” list, but small amounts of lemon and lime juice don’t bother me), asparagus, artichokes, cauliflower, clarified/drawn butter (or ghee).

As long as I’m mindful of when I’m about to reach salicylate overload (I can tell if I’m starting to feel agitated apropos of nothing in particular), I can consume the following: Broccoli (must be careful of undercooked stems due to FODMAP issues), eggplant, olives, spices, herbs, coffee, tea, peppers (though I hate bell peppers and pimentos), yams, zucchini, cucumbers, spinach, water chestnuts, alfalfa sprouts, berries, dried apricots, grapes, almonds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, cornmeal, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamias, mint, pickles, popcorn, wine, rum, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce.

FODMAP-listed stuff I know I can work with are the following: Anything in the onion family as long as I don’t eat the white parts of the flesh (I can cook with it for flavoring), broccoli (beware undercooked stems), carrots if cooked or shredded and I have a little dextrose with it, tomato sauce or ketchup if I have a little dextrose with it, any legumes (including soy products and any flours or noodles made from legumes), brown rice as long as I don’t go too hog-wild with it, pomegranate juice (it’s tart, so I just use a little for flavoring fizzy water), small amounts of honey, fruit sweetener (including agave), or even HFCS (which I avoid for metabolic reasons, but if some sneaks past me on rare occasion it’s not going to kill me), coconut milk or cream, small amounts of sucrose (table sugar) or brown sugar (i.e. table sugar plus molasses). Gatorade, SweeTarts, and Smarties are my go-to sources for dextrose at the moment, though I’m considering getting some dextrose powder to see if it’s more effective.

Foods that are generally no problem for me at all (see above for caveat about breakfast): All nuts not listed above, any kind of fish, meat, or poultry, all non-gluten-containing grains not listed above (oats can be okay depending on processing), tamari/liquid aminos, all vegetables and tubers not listed above, bananas if they’re not underripe or overripe, mangoes, small amounts of dark chocolate if not made with milk fats, garlic, salt, eggs, all oils not listed above, Earth Balance spread (indispensible in baking), vanilla extract, gluten-free beer, sparkling water, fish sauce, liquid smoke, hemp milk.

I just got an Imperia pasta maker and am starting to make my own GF pastas (flour blend is 1/3 garbanzo, 1/3 cornstarch, 1/3 tapioca — it doesn’t taste beany at all once it’s cooked). YUM! I also ordered some Better Batter flour mix to try out, so that my partner can (I hope!) go back to doing the baking he used to do before I started tinkering. (He’s not doing the same restrictions I am, but he also doesn’t want to bake things I can’t eat.)

I’m sure I’m going to forget some things and have to add them in later.

With that in mind…got any good recipes for me?

11 Responses to “The Happy Foods List (A Work in Progress)”

  1. Kate Says:

    I recently tried a recipe for roasted garbanzo beans (chick peas) that I saw on the Salon website. It’s a can of beans (dried), a little olive oil, and seasoning, and at the end you get something akin to seasoned nuts. I just loved them.

    • meowser Says:

      Roasted chickpeas are great! I’ve actually been known to take leftover garbanzo curry and roast it in the oven until it becomes finger-food goodness. YUM.

  2. Diana Says:

    Ouch! My empathy to you. I have chronic urticaria (hives, not always a discernible reason, for going on eight years now.) It took me about five years to figure out that I’m allergic to corn syrup. Even if I make it through that daily minefield, too much starch one day, too much salicylate on another, and around I go!

  3. The WellRounded Mama Says:

    Diana, you might also look for other sources of corn in your diet beisdes HFCS. Corn starch is another one that’s present in SO many things you wouldn’t believe it. Even things like vanilla extract often has corn in it, because the alcohol used in it is corn-derived. My youngest son has corn sensitivities and believe me, it’s stunning how much stuff has corn in it. So perhaps look for other sources of corn in the diet too?

    Meowser, thanks for the post. I’m dizzy at the thought of all the do’s and don’ts. I have a hard enough time coping with just my sons’ various issues!

    I also find breakfast the hardest meal of the day. Oy.

  4. The WellRounded Mama Says:

    Oh, a couple things I forgot to add.

    How does hummus work for you? Do you tolerate the sesame/tahini in it?

    What about Dal? (Sort of like Indian hummus, made with lentils, I think) Have you tried it yet? Dal with some gluten-free bread-ish stuff might be quite good.

    • meowser Says:

      Sure, chickpeas and lentils are both legumes, hence fine. No problems with any form of sesame seeds AFAIK. I’m thinking about getting an immersion blender so I can make things like hummus and pesto and soup without the hideous task of having to scrape gunk out of the bottom of my blender.

  5. Des Says:

    I have so much sympathy – I’m in much the same situation. Gluten free/dairy free, although I seem to be OK with most FODMAPs – but there’s *SOMETHING* I keep eating occasionally that is causing me issues and I can’t track it down. Maybe I should try FODMAPs exclusion again in case I’ve missed something. I imagine it’s probably gluten cross-contamination though as it’s almost always something like a hamburger pattie we didn’t make at home.

    Gluten free by itself doesn’t seem too bad – particularly in NZ, where there are a lot of cafes and restaurants starting to carry gluten free items. The combination of gluten free and dairy free though just seems impossible some days. Add the fact that I am deficient in almost every bloody vitamin from the absorption issues while I was eating gluten, and about all I can really consider ‘healthy’ for me is to eat a lot of fresh meat and some salad on the side for pretty much every meal. Also eggs. Mmmm eggs.

    Bit harsh for an ex vegetarian 😉

    The fascinating thing though is I had no idea how miserable my life was before I changed my diet. While it’s frustrating to browse through a menu trying to find something I can eat, I don’t actually feel even slightly deprived. Life without pizza is fine – because I’ve finally found the answer for why I’m always tired and sick and life? Oh wow, it’s so much better now.

    • meowser Says:

      If it always seems to happen in restaurants and never at home, then yeah, it could very well be cross-contam stuff. I’m still trying to negotiate that one myself. I ate sweet potato fries last night where the restaurant didn’t guarantee a dedicated fryer, and so far, no problems. There might be certain times of the month (right before and during the period) where I’m more sensitive. Does that mean I could eat Burgerville fries after my period? More will be revealed.

      • Des Says:

        Definitely could be. I know I have some issues with some FODMAPs – a couple of slices of onion on a burger is ok, french onion soup is a recipe for pain and agony. Nothing we cook at home causes me any issues though so I am starting to suspect cross-contamination – or there’s always just plain bad food handling practices, which muddies the waters even further. Is it gluten? Is there sneaky hidden milk powder? Or did they just not wash their hands before handling the raw hamburger??

        Thanks for writing about this! It’s great to hear the experiences of others – especially after a day of feeling like a freak having to explain my food allergies to someone who wants to arrange a team lunch for the women, which is a lovely gesture >.>

  6. eselle Says:

    I have had a lot of GI problems. The foods I could tolerate seemed to change from day to day. I had BS to the extent that I wasn’t able to leave the house.

    I was tested for everything you can think of but all tests came back negative. To cut to the chase, a gastro prescribed what was then an experemental treatment. She gave me an antibiotic called Xifaxan and it cleared up a good deal of my mystery issues.

    Apparently there are bacteria that can infest the digestive tract that were previously unknown to be able to live there. These bacteria can cause IBS and other digestive issues.

    Other things that have helped were cutting out high fructose corn syrup and taking my vitamins.

    I hope you can get to the bottom of your problem. I know how much it sucks.

  7. shaunta Says:

    I’m late to this party, but I thought I’d recommend Crunch Master crackers. The rosemary olive oil flavor are addictive in their deliciousness.

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