Like many of us out there today, I have discovered that I have to diligently watch what I eat.
That is the main reason I am writing this article tonight; I know that there are *so* many people who have to avoid allergens like gluten and dairy, and for them to be put in (or on) foods that they shouldn’t be on, is a scary thing.
I’ve been dealing with some health issues for quite some time now, but one issue in particular has become almost intolerable over the last year – my IBS flare-ups. I know, I know! TMI, right? Bear with me … this is important.
IBS isn’t something that people like to talk about, but I am opening up to you today because I have discovered two things; one that can possibly help other IBS sufferers, and the other one could possibly hurt anyone who has food sensitivities or food allergy issues … such as finding out my steak last night had wheat on/in it. (more on that later)
While talking about IBS publicly isn’t something I ever thought I would do, I think it is important because it is not only my reality, but the reality of many, many people. IBS isn’t just something that is bothersome, it is something that can totally change the way a person lives their life, depending on the severity of it. Unfortunately for me, I am one of those people.
I’ve struggled with it for years, but it got much worse after I had surgery about 10 years ago. Since then, it has basically ruled my existence and along with that, so has trying to make the right food choices. One wrong move, one wrong food choice, and I am housebound for days.
I’ve had to cancel get-togethers with friends. I can’t go out to dinner and a movie like most people can. The thought of going on vacation always leaves me with high anxiety levels and fear. Not many people knew about my tummy issues because it always embarrassed me to say anything, so I would just politely decline invitations. For the most part, I’ve become a recluse.
We have a lot of things coming up this summer – our son’s graduation from college and then his wedding for starters – and after going to about every M.D. or homeopathic doctor we could afford, I almost gave up. I decided though, that I can’t let this issue defeat me. I decided to start doing some in-depth research, and that is when I found about about the Low FODMAP Diet.
I won’t get into all the technical details, because I believe reading for yourself and doing some research on the subject will be more beneficial, but I will post some starter links for you at the end of this post. I will also say that within just a few short days of starting this program, I saw significant changes in how I felt, and how my G.I. tract was processing better.
Thank you, Jesus!!!
Then … disaster struck.
Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, so we decided to get take-out from Applebee’s. Knowing that I had to be very careful about what I was eating, I went online and looked at their menu, and decided on a very plain, very basic meal; a 7oz. sirloin steak, a plain baked potato (I figured I could dress it myself at home to be safe!), and their seasonal vegetables. Perfect.
Boy, was I wrong!
I woke up today, and my stomach started cramping. I knew without a doubt what the day was going to entail, but there was nothing I could do but ride it out. I was frustrated, and I couldn’t figure out what would have caused a “relapse”. It hit me then – it had to be what I ordered from Applebee’s.
I decided to call them, to find out if they happened to have cooked the vegetables with another ingredient that I wasn’t aware of. (I assumed they were steamed, as that is what they tasted and looked like.) Come to find out, they put what they call a “vegetable powder” on them … and that powder contains ingredients I have to stay away from. Ugh!
After doing some digging around on their website, I found their allergen worksheet. (You can download it here in PDF form.) Guess what I discovered? The simple foods that you thought would be “safe” foods, might not be!
Not only do they put that vegetable powder on their vegetables (the only ingredient that the gentleman I spoke to did confirm for me was garlic powder), but apparently only two of their steaks are considered wheat-free. Really?! Why on earth would they grill their steaks with some sort of wheat ingredient?? Take a look at the screen shots below.
And here is a portion of their gluten allergen worksheet:
After reading through the whole document, I also discovered that for some reason, my plain baked potato (without toppings) and my veggies somehow also included dairy. Huh? Wow.
Since wheat, dairy, garlic, and onions are four of the biggest offenders, I managed to sabotage myself without even realizing it. Why those ingredients would be in any of the foods I ordered is beyond me, but it just goes to show that we never really know how the foods we eat in restaurants are actually prepared.
So, with all of that being said, I hope you take away two things from this blog post.
- If you have something like IBS or Chron’s Disease, don’t be embarrassed about it. It is what it is, and you don’t have to hide.
- Please take care to watch what you order in restaurants if you have food sensitivities or allergies. Do some research if you need to, and keep yourself (and/or your family) safe.
Personally, I am probably going to avoid restaurants altogether for a while. For me, it’s just not worth it.
For more information on the Low FODMAP Diet and how it can possibly help you, check out a few of these links:
- Monash University – The Low FODMAP Diet FAQ’s
- Monash University – Low FODMAP Smart phone app
- Stanford Hospital – Low FODMAP PDF
- FODMAP Food List (a great starter list)
- The Candid RD – a nice blog to learn more, find recipes, etc.
- My own personal Low FODMAP Pinterest board – I’m just getting started, but will be adding much more to it!