Food restrictions galore during the pandemic
January 13, 2021 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning a low-fat, moderate-FODMAP, gluten-free diet, due to gallstones and other abdominal pain, and I'm struggling to figure out how to meet my daily nutritional requirements. Hopefully this would last only until March or April, when it becomes safer for me to get medical attention in person.

I was recently diagnosed with gallstone pain and referred to a surgeon, and for months I've also been struggling with mysterious lower abdominal pain. At my wit's end, I tried eating gluten-free and moderate-FODMAP this past week, and my lower abdominal pain has definitely lessened. I talked to my primary care doctor, and he suggested that it might be IBS, and referred me to a gastroenterologist.

While I'll be able to video call the gallbladder surgeon and the gastroenterologist in a month, it's going to be several months before I get gallbladder surgery or even get my lower abdominal pain diagnosed (it'll require a colonoscopy, I suppose). Like many places, COVID is slamming the healthcare system here. So I'll have to eat a wildly restrictive diet until then.

I've been trying to figure out how to get all my nutrients, and it's been very difficult. I know I should be consulting a dietician, but it's going to be a month before I can even be referred to one.

So far I'm planning on lots of brown rice and tempeh, with sardines, carrots, kiwi, and leafy greens, and I'll try eating sweet potatoes for the first time, since they have vitamins B1, B6, and pantothenic acid. I also take a vitamin D3 supplement everyday. But I'm not sure how to address choline, biotin, folate, and zinc. Eggs are helpful, but I wonder if eating one a day is still too much cholesterol for my gallbladder. Rinsing out canned lentils seems to be FODMAP compliant as well, but it seems like the canning process itself removes a lot of the B vitamins that I need in the first place.

Are there other things I should consider?
posted by facehugger to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Monash University has a huge set of FODMAP resources including an app which I've found very helpful. You can track what you eat, symptoms and what you add back - with lots of nutritional information there too. It gets easier as you go.
posted by leslies at 10:14 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

The brown rice is raising a red flag for me; I've got major tummy issues and brown rice is too difficult for me to digest. I worry that it will cause you problems if you eat too much of it. Also make certain you check the amount of sweet potatoes you're eating, I believe they're only low fodmap at 1/2 cup. If you eat more than that in a day, you're going to have issues. But don't forget regular potatoes! They will serve you well here.

You don't mention being vegetarian, but since you don't mention any meat here than you might be. But chicken would help a lot here; I'm on a similarly restricted diet and I eat ground chicken or ground turkey nearly every day.

One of my go to meals is diced cucumber & tomato, a protein (you could use eggs, tempeh, chicken or a mixture) and cheddar cheese. You may or may not be able to get away with the cheese, but you could give it a try. The dressing is two parts olive oil, one part balsamic vinegar and one part maple syrup.

I also eat a ton of oatmeal; I put carrots in mine which helps make it into a more substantial meal. Other suggestions which may not fall into your "low fat" requirement - seeds or nut butters, or lactose free dairy.
posted by backwards compatible at 10:18 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

Seconding oatmeal, you could start the day with a porridge that is based on oatmeal but contains seeds and perhaps fruits that are good for you. I'm not a fan of the soaked oatmeal thing, but ordinary oat porridge can be reheated with a bit of ekstra water if you are not a morning person.

Hard cheese in a small portion is good, the fermentation removes the lactose and keeps or even ups the nutrients. I eat it as a "dessert" with a piece of fruit after my main dish.

A soba noodle salad with a bit of salmon and a leafy green and sesame seeds is a good source of nutrients, easy to make, and to pack as a cold lunch if needed. I could eat it every day.

I eat a lot of chicken liver and cod liver. Both are acquired tastes, but I still recommend. They are shock full of the nutrients we need. Here, you can buy the cod liver in a can, and eat with lots of lemon juice and horseradish. I always have it in my fridge. Chicken liver needs to be cooked, and there are tons of recipes online, most are great with polenta. Many recipes are with onion, but you can leave it out.

Yesterday, when I was feeling a bit off, I had a small bowl of edamame beans (weirdly, they are OK). They are really good for re-balancing, and again, full of the nutrients we need.

You can combine all of the above into many more menus. Like oat-cakes with hard cheese for a snack, or soba noodles with edamame beans and liver.

At this point, I am actually off the FODMAP diet and doing well, but I still have some habits. I've never been able to take supplements, so getting nutrients from food has been very essential.
posted by mumimor at 12:05 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

If you are willing to see a dietician and pay out of pocket, I have an amazing person that specializes in eating for IBS and food allergies/intolerances. She is based in NYC but we work together remotely and it's been worth every penny for me, as someone with lots of digestive issues. DM me if you want her info!
posted by stellaluna at 2:06 PM on January 13

stellaluna, I'm in Canada, so I'm not sure how that would work with your dietician. If I do get officially diagnosed with IBS, I'll see if I can seek her out!
posted by facehugger at 2:46 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I'm doing FODMAP & GERD (less acid) and I recommend you do a list (Word /Excel) of what you can eat and how much and sort by grocery aisles. Whenever the shopper in the house is going out, we consult the list. When I eat, I consult the list and weigh my (often) 75 gram portion.
posted by b33j at 4:30 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Having been sort of in this situation (took ages for doctor to find out it was gallstones plus I have IBS), some other thing that helped with the pain, specifically trying to sleep through it, was a hot water bottle on my stomach.
posted by meepmeow at 7:45 PM on January 13

I eat low FODMAP and take a multivitamin a couple times a week and drink colloidal minerals to get those minerals you talk about.
posted by DixieBaby at 11:23 PM on January 13

I'm doing FODMAP & GERD (less acid) and I recommend you do a list (Word /Excel) of what you can eat and how much and sort by grocery aisles.

Since the first lockdown in March, I've been keeping both an Excel sheet of what I eat and a written dairy in Word of how I feel, and I think that is what has helped me (almost) get rid of my IBS and symptoms of too high levels of blood sugar (pre-diabetes).
My primary ambition when I started to document was to eat a more varied diet; not just more leafy greens, but more different leafy greens, etc. But now I also use it to fine-tune the balance of main food groups. For instance, I was very happy when I realized I could eat some wheat -- one portion of pasta or a small sandwich are in, hurrah! But I have to accept that a whole pizza for dinner or a sub-style sandwich for lunch is too much.
posted by mumimor at 2:31 PM on January 14

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