Posted by: kerryalina | 30 April 2012

Fructose Malabsorption, Redux

(Today’s super-exciting story is not at all related to Bikram.  For your daily yoga fix, you should totally check out one of my all-time favourite posts at Yoga Badassery and marvel at the world’s best Bikram illustrations).

The upcoming 30 day challenge isn’t just about Bikram… it’s also about completely overhauling the way I eat.  (Don’t worry, I swear this isn’t about to become a diet or weightloss blog!)

Readers who haven’t managed to repress the memory will unfortunately remember that at the start of my 60 day challenge I was having some super-crazy stomach pains.  (Sorry for subjecting you all to that story).  Others may remember that a few weeks later, I got my test results back and was slightly… distraught… to discover the pains were due to my inability to digest fructose.  Which, as I quickly discovered, is in pretty much everything even remotely healthy.  Nutella’s just fine… but apples are out the window.  It’s like all my childhood dreams come true!  Unfortunately, it’s proving slightly less fun in reality.

Following an appointment with a dietitian last week, I now know what foods I should definitely steer clear of (everything) and which are safe to eat (…small pebbles?).  I bought some recipe books that she recommended and have been cooking and freezing big batches of… gloopy stuff… for work lunches.  Btw, “gloopy stuff” is being generous – there is a reason most dietitians are not world-renowned chefs.   I’ve already forgotten my lunch more than once, though… probably due to my taste-buds taking control of my actions in self-defence… and as a result, I tend to spend my lunch hour wandering around the city in tears, trying desperately to find something to eat that’s on my “safe” list.  (Hint: nothing).  I still don’t have any idea what to do when I eat out and as a major foodie, this has always been a huge part of my life.  But I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it?  Maybe?

At least now I know what the rules are and in that respect I’m glad I met with the dietitian… kind of.  It was great to meet with someone who was friendly, reassuring and qualified – especially as she’s super-involved in fructose research and very up-to-date with recent findings.  On the other hand… for a $140 consultation, I would have expected more than a Powerpoint display of how fructose is digested (or not, as the case may be) and a black-and-white booklet listing the foods to avoid.  How do I stay healthy while avoiding fruit?  How do I balance my diet when I can eat chocolate but not my favourite vegetables?  How do I recognise and dodge problem foods on restaurant menus?  I don’t have a bloody clue.  In terms of giving me the tools to actually live with this diet, the consultation was a bit of a flop.

So just in case there’s anyone else out there with possible fructose malabsorption (or IBS, which has the same treatment/diet) who’s unable or unwilling to invest the money in breath tests and dietitian appointments (and honestly, my advice would be that they’re just not worth the money)… here’s my super handy fructose-friendly FODMAP eating guide.  It’s a summary of everything from my dietitian’s handout and the resources she recommended I buy, so unlike most information available online, it’s guaranteed current and accurate.  Hopefully there’ll be someone out there who’ll find it useful… or use it to offer me appropriate and non-gloop recipes ;)

kerryalina's Super-Fun FODMAP Guide - Grains & Vegetables

kerryalina's Super-Fun FODMAP Guide - Grains & Vegetables

kerryalina's Super-Fun FODMAP Guide - Fruit & Other Stuff

kerryalina's Super-Fun FODMAP Guide - Fruit & Other Stuff

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Responses

  1. What the hell? You’re going to waste away to NOTHING!

    • Ikr? At least all the junk food here is made with plain old sugar. Trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup while I’m in America is going to be super-fun :\

      • I… I don’t think we make anything here without HFCS. It’s pretty much what we’re made of now.

      • Oh dear god, I know. I’m terrified! Maybe I can bring a month’s supply of tim tams and vegemite in my suitcase ;)

  2. thank you for this post, recently I’ve been having digestion issues that sound similar to yours. I was tested for celiac but that came back fine. Do they test for fructose malabsorption with blood tests as well?

    • Hi Kayla! Unfortunately lactose and fructose tests are a bit more complicated – they’re diagnosed via a Breath Test, which means that you drink a cup of sweet syrupy stuff and then blow into a bag every half hour (over 3-4 hours) so they can test whether you’re producing methane or hydrogen. It’s a huge hassle because you’re on a super-strict diet (basically just rice and lean meat) the day before and fasting the day of the test, to make sure there’s nothing else that could be producing the gas.

      The other method of diagnosing is just to put people on the FODMAP diet for six weeks. If the symptoms disappear, then they have fructose intolerance. Easy! (Kind of. I didn’t realise just how many store-bought sauces/stocks/etc have onion in them until I had to clear out everything in my pantry!)

      If you’re not sure, try just cutting out apples, pears, mangos, honey and onions for a few weeks. Apparently they’re the worst offenders and if you do have fructose malabsorption, you should notice an improvement fairly soon xx

      • thank you so much for the info! I used to be obsessed with apples and realized they were giving me digestion pains and stopped eating them recently.
        I’m sure there is a bunch of reasons for that but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is possibly because of fructose malabsorption after reading a bit about it. Never heard of it before this post, so now I am happy to at least have a bit more knowledge about foods to be aware of.
        Thanks again!

  3. I hope you don’t mind I’ve featured your blog on the Fructose Friendly Recipe Facebook page. Maybe you could get some food ideas from this site.

    http://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=194947530608096&__user=100002555970013&soft=jewel%3D2#~!/profile.php?id=194947530608096&__user=100002555970013

    • That’s lovely – thank you! And I’ll definitely be scouring that page for some recipes :)

  4. Ok, so I “liked” the post because I can’t “boo” the post…not because it’s a bad post but because that really, really, sucks. There are some interesting things on your “go nuts” list…though it might drive you nuts while you adjust to the new diet guidelines. At least you have an idea of what to eat and what not to eat–I would venture a guess that once you reset your system and get some of the inflammation and misery to calm down that you might be able to work an occasional “baddie” food back into your diet. Maybe. I could be wrong. Good luck and I’ll let you know if I find any interesting recipes that include your “Eat ’til your sick of it” list and none of the “avoid like the plague” list.

    • No, no – you’re absolutely right! The idea is to be super strict for the first two months, to make sure you’re starting from a perfect baseline. Then slowly reintroduce foods from the “maybe”/”limited” list one at a time, waiting to see if/how you react to each one. I’m looking forward to that part!! Sadly though, the “avoid” list is kind of set in stone :)

  5. Ah, so you’re an IBSer too. I’ve had IBS for years and I’m lucky enough to be a maker of kidney stones. Guess what? Their diets are complete opposites. I gave up trying to figure out, and stay away from, my triggers a long time ago. I just know where all the nice restrooms are wherever I go. (I live in Texas. There is no way I’m giving up Mexican food.) A good health-oriented dietician is really hard to find. Which I think is crazy. So, I’m thrilled you could find one that could help you. Even if you didn’t like the answer… BTW, how did that Nutella work out for you?

    • Nutella’s the bomb ;) I don’t often eat that much sugar though, so it gives me wicked headrushes!

      I’m lucky enough to not actually have IBS – thankfully the FM gives me massive abdominal pain but no real digestion issues :) And I don’t envy you having to choose between keeping your IBS happy and keeping your kidneys happy!! That would screw with my brain BIG time.

  6. Hey just wondering where you got your test done, I have done the poor-mans approach.. aka fodmaps and reintroduction.. and I am pretty sure I have fructmal.. but I am hoping for an actual diagnosis through a test..

    • Hi Michelle! I’m in Melbourne, Australia, so the process might be slightly different depending on where you are. I went to my GP and asked for a referral to a gastro clinic (I chose one at Cabrini Hospital just because its location was handy, but you’ll be able to discuss different options with your doctor). I got a lactose and a fructose test done on separate days; it was either $150/test or $150 total (I can’t remember!). If you’re in Australia, I’m afraid it’s not covered by Medicare.

      Let me know if you have any more questions :)


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