Monday, October 17, 2011

My veggie garden is going ballistic!

All that hard work I did months ago setting up the raised beds is now paying off. Everything has gone ballistic with the warmer weather we've been having recently. The dark grey container has 3 diff types of tomatoes growing in it. I had them wrapped in clear plastic tents until about 10 days ago and they are growing very strongly now ~ way ahead of the old advice of never planting your tomatoes until after the Melbourne Cup! The big silver container has butter beans, button squash (those little yellow ones) and 2 diff types of zucchini. The Kipfler potatoes are going great guns in their funky special growing bags. The cut-off 44's have silver beet, Gold Nugget Bush pumpkins, herbs, cucumbers and strawberries in them. The strawberries have loads of fruit & the bird netting is there so I get to eat them - not the birds (or the chooks!) The green plastic chair is where I often sit on gorgeous days to relax, read, have a cuppa and soak up some extra Vit D in the hope of getting my level closer to normal - which reminds me, it's almost time to have the next blood test to check and see how I'm doing with the Ostelin D3 supplement. That green chair is where I was sitting when the brown snake slithered beneath me 3 weeks ago yesterday. That snake had been terrorising me for 4 summers and I am pleased to say its days of terrorism are over!! *wink* There are also peas, Queensland Blue pumpkins, Butternuts, Purple King beans and lots of Marigolds growing in various other containers. We have already been eating silver beet & bok choy; some of the peas are almost ready to harvest. I am feeling a lot of satisfaction that it's worked out so well after the weeks of getting it all together from scratch. I even managed to grow it all from seed!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rabbit Stew with Dumplings

Sorry about the cute little baby to the left ~ considering what I am about to post. I've been hankering for rabbit stew for ages, but couldn't find rabbit meat anywhere. Then, saw some in a local supermarket - at $17.80 for one bunny! ZOMG!! Oh well, grabbed one anyway. I cut it into pieces and put it into the slow cooker with 500mls of chicken stock, some chunks of carrot and a few frozen peas; with some chives and a few leaves of curry plant (not curry leaves! Curry plant is a herb with small, soft leaves). It cooked for 6 hours on Low. Then I transferred it all into a large saucepan, made a basic dumpling dough and cooked it (with the lid on) on medium heat for a further 15 minutes, until the dumplings were done. That bunny stew with dumplings sure tasted gooooooood! I'll def make it again.

Meatball & Noodle Soup

I've been making this recipe quite a lot recently, using different variations on a theme. It's pretty safe for most people with FM and/or food chemical issues; and is very tasty. As ever, please be aware of your tolerance/s.

500g minced lean meat
[I've used beef, pork, veal, turkey, chicken; or a combo of them]
3/4 cup bread crumbs or corn crumbs
1 teaspoon ground Cardamom
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 large egg
1/3 cup Sunflower oil
Chopped chives or the green part of a spring onion, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with a fork or spoon. Wet your hands and mix really thoroughly, then shape into bite size balls. Brown in batches and set aside.
Place 500mls Campbell's Chicken Stock in a large saucepan. Add the meatballs and 150g noodles of choice.
(Vermicelli, Singapore, Hokkein, etc)
Add some grated carrot and allow to simmer gently for approx. 30 minutes, stirring gently occasionally.
Turn heat off & add some Bok Choy, just allowing it to steam/wilt before serving.

Banana and Yoghurt Muffins

While bananas are no longer as horrendously expensive as they were in Oz, I still couldn't bring myself to throw three VERY over-ripe ones in the bin ... despite the fact that they were now loaded with amines! I went searching for a recipe I could adapt and found this one. It's a ripper! Having yoghurt as an ingredient only increased its appeal for me because I make my own. I have no reaction to one or two of these muffins ~ spaced well apart throughout the day ~ but please make sure you are aware of YOUR tolerance to them.
1 and 3/4 cups unbleached organic self raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar (or substitute with stevia, etc)
1 cup plain yoghurt (I use my own lactose free low-fat homemade yoghurt)
1 large egg (mine are homegrown free-range ... lucky me!)
2/3 cup oil (I use Crisco 100% Sunflower oil. No additives at all)
2 large bananas, mashed with chunks
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin pan. Sift flour, sugar and mixed spice into a bowl. Combine yoghurt, egg, oil and banana in a second, larger bowl. Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring until JUST combined. [If you overmix, the muffins will be tough and won't rise]. Spoon mixture into muffin holes. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Stand muffins in pan for 5 minutes, turn out onto wire rack to cool. They are very moist and stay that way for 2-3 days. If any are left on day #4, nuke them for 15 seconds & spread with butter.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Wednesday, 5th October, was a hard hard day. My magnificent Rottweiler, Jethro, was 12 years and 4 months old. He had osteosarcoma which presented on his left hind leg just above his foot. When I first noticed it about 7 weeks ago it was the size of a small hen's egg. By the time I got him to the vet two days later, it was as big as a large hen's egg. This is a very aggressive disease. The only treatment is amputation, followed by chemo & radiotherapy; and there was no way I would put him through such suffering. So, I brought him home and hoped we'd have some more time together. He mooched along OK, spending most of his time inside with me. He'd go out for a pee around 11pm, then settle down for the night. I'd get up and let him out at daylight and then he'd get into his Hilton Hotel kennel for a few hours and wait for me to get up. He always got out of his kennel to greet me and help feed the chooks and horse. He still liked to get around the property a bit, bark at anyone who dared to get to close to our boundary fences and just let the world in general know he was still on active duty. Whenever I reached my left hand down, there was his head pressed hard against my left knee. On Wednesday morning, he didn't get out of his kennel - even when I called him. He didn't come with me to feed the chooks. I knew he was feeling miserable. The tumour on his leg was now grotesque and, for the first time, he couldn't take any weight on that leg. I rang the vet, organised to pick up some sedation and we took him for his last ride in the car.

Not long after I first got Jethro, I started working with Juvenile Offenders. One of them thought I'd written a negative report about him to the sentencing Magistrate and he threatened to blow up our house [they all knew where I lived, of course!]. We took this threat seriously as that young man had burned down two schools in the area; and he was violent. So, I trained Jethro to the max of his awesome guarding ability. Most people who met him, hated him ... because they were afraid of him. There were only four people on this earth whom he would allow to touch him. Everyone else was seen as a threat and Jethro really was a force to be reckoned with. I always felt safe. Our property and belongings were safe.

Jethro was the seventh Rottweiler I have had in my life and he will be the last. He & I were fiercely devoted to each other. He was gentle with us; loving, funny and playful. He was 100% obedient for me. He did not disobey me ~ not even once.

My heart is aching. I keep thinking I hear him in the house. Why isn't his head there, pressed against my leg? His soft, velvety ears? I miss him dreadfully. My protector, my companion, my loving friend ...

Digest Spectrum ~ The Wonder Pill!!

I've known about this product for many months and even bought a bottle of 30 caps about 4 months ago, but was too much of a scaredy cat to try them. After reading about all the success others with the same issues as me were having with them, about 4 weeks ago, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and try the ones I had. I started off by taking one with lunch each day for 4 days, just to see what would happen. Then one with breakfast (as well as lunch) for another 3 days. By the end of the first week I was taking one with each meal. Do they help? Oh, yes, indeed they do! The biggest improvement I've noticed is that I don't get the severe nightime reflux which could mean I'd be woken with a mouthful of stomach acid at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. Yuck! It hasn't gone completely, but it doesn't happen every night & it's nowhere near as severe. I take Nexium (a PPI) but it didn't help with the reflux during the night. This might be TMI, but I am also having normal BMs - something which hasn't happened for a long time! If you decide to give these a try, you might notice that you will fart a bit more than usual and your BMs could be really, really rank. LOL To me this means that the digestive enzymes are doing their thing. They don't necessarily mean that you can eat whatever you want in large quantities. You still need to be careful with your diet. Some people have reported that they can eat whatever they like, but I'm not one of them. However, I haven't had any 'episodes' and I feel well. The best way to use DS is to have a few bites of your meal, then take the capsule. People who eat more than one course should take another DS prior to the last course [apparently]. There are absolutely no fillers or other nasties in this formula, but check it out for yourself.
You can read about Digest Spectrum and buy it from here:
and here:
Amazon sells DS but they won't ship to Australia, unfortunately. There are also sellers on American eBay who seem reliable. It's not available in Australia and there is nothing exactly the same here. I now have my own drug store supply!! Here's hoping it continues to work as well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More brick walls

I guess I should have known that taking the Vit D supplement capsules would cause me grief. I drove to Melbourne the day before my appt with a dietician at SW. As I was preparing to leave the motel the next morning, to drive the short distance to the appt, I had a major D episode - the first since February. I know I hadn't eaten anything which might cause this and I was extremely upset about it. By the time I got to SW, I was very emotional and I am sure the dietician thought I am a head case. She suggested that I would benefit from seeking counselling and told me that SW was not able to help me any further. I was pretty disappointed with this outcome ... as well as embarrassed ... but there's no doubt that she was not seeing me at my best. Both experiences were humiliating.
I have decided to try again with the Vit D supplement but am only taking one every second day. Let's see what happens! I also have some Digest Spectrum, which I believe I will try during the coming weekend. I have regressed in the past 2 weeks, which is very disappointing.
Thankfully I have had some success in changing the appointment I made 5 weeks ago to see an allergist. I will now be seeing him on September 6th. My original appt was not until 14 November!! Today I had a light bulb moment - I thought I could eat a limited range of dry biscuits, but realised that one type has a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top ... maybe I am a head case after all. Any hoo, I've just eaten 2 ... I wonder what reaction I might have, if any?
I'd been away from home for almost a week & my veggie garden has grown significantly in that time due to the very unseasonal warm weather we had, followed by lovely heavy rain. Some of the Bok Choy is almost ready and the Swiss Chard is growing fast. The potatoes had also pushed their leaves up through the second layer of compost, so they have now been covered with a final layer. The worms are about six times bigger - they are fat and very healthy looking. What a great feeling of satisfaction. At least some things are successful .......

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Vitamin D (3) Deficiency

One of the most common problems related to food intolerances with malabsorption is a lack of Vitamin D. I had a blood test done in May, when my Vit D was measured at 52. Considering that the normal level is 150+ that was a bit of a shock. I'm going to see a senior dietician at Shepherd Works in a few days, so wanted to have very recent blood work to show her. Imagine my horror when my Vit D had dropped even lower ~ to 38 in just two months!! It explains the dreadful muscle weakness, fatigue and joint pain I've been experiencing recently. I have now started a therapeutic regime of Ostelin brand Vitamin D (3) - scientific name is cholecalciferol. It's necessary to start off with 2-3 capsules per day, best taken with breakfast, for a month. This is followed up with a blood test and then adjusted as required. Ostelin has no added anything. I'm beginning to wonder if my reduced muscle strength is the reason for a very heavy fall I had a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, the laughing GP just told me I need to spend more time in the sun - to get outside more. Hellloooooo, Albert ... I already spend a minimum of 2 hours most days outside, which I told you in May but because you are so cynical about food intolerances you dissed me when I told you this. Don't you know that many Australians are already deficient in Vit D?? The food intolerances just make the situation worse.

My thyroid levels were also really out of whack - connected to the Vit D deficiency which is required for proper absorption of calcium. It's a minefield trying to manage all the issues I have :(

Homemade Ice Cream

I recently bought a Cuisinart 2L ice cream maker ~ model #ICE-30BCA. It was a bargain on eBay, BNIB from an honest seller. It is a fantastic machine. Some of the reviews I read stated this model is a bit noisy, but I don't think it's as annoying as a food processor or electric mixer; and it makes fantastic ice cream and frozen yoghurt. This machine does not have a compressor, but a bowl which is placed in the freezer for 24 hours before you want to use it. Sounds like a PITA but it's not. Just leave it in the freezer between batches. I've tried several recipes, but this is my 'go to' preference ... even though it's very rich. One small scoop at a time can't hurt though, can it?? I add a large mixing spoonful to individual containers with screw top lids. Here's the recipe:

600mls whipping cream (min 35% butter fat)
395g tin condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add vanilla bean paste, then condensed milk. Mix until it looks like custard. Pour into ice cream maker & churn for 25-30 mins.
It will be like soft serve ice cream at the end of that time.
You'll need to put it in the freezer to harden up & ripen in flavour. It's delicious.

I've done a couple of variations:
Instead of vanilla bean, add 1/4 tin of drinking chocolate to the cream & fold it in carefully before mixing or the choc powder will fly all over your kitchen!

Instead of the condensed milk, use a 385g tin of Coffee & Milk and add 1 tablespoon of good quality instant coffee granules - I used Moccona 'Indulgence'.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Traditional-style baked rice custard

This is bascially what I've been living on for the past several days. Don't add the sultanas if you are super sensitive - I only used about 10 of those 'nasty' little yummy brown super sweet fruit. It's a bit of fiddling about, but well worth the effort IMO. I have had no bad reaction/s to this recipe, but as usual, please assess your individual tolerance and daily load when you eat it. Enjoy!
75g (1/3 cup) medium grain white rice
750 mls (3 cups) Lactose Free milk
70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
4 eggs
(I used my own chookies' eggs, but you can buy free range at most s/markets)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (don't use the synthetic chemical crap!)
10-15 sultanas
pinch of ground nutmeg (don't use if super sensitive)
Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Cook the rice until tender, drain & set aside. Use a fork to whisk together the milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in the rice and sultanas.
Line the base of a roasting pan with a tea towel folded to fit and place a 1.5L (6-cup) capacity ovenproof dish in the pan. Pour the custard mixture into the dish. Sprinkle evenly with nutmeg. Pour enough boiling water into the pan to reach halfway up the side of the dish. Bake in oven for 40-45 mins, until the tip of a knife comes out cleanly. Remove dish & set aside to cool for an hour.
Make sure you use a baking dish of the size specified. If the dish is too large the custard may cook too quickly, becoming dry & rubbery.
For a smooth result, use a fork to whisk the egg mixture. A balloon whisk causes bubbles to form in the custard as it bakes, creating an unpleasant mouth feel.
Be very careful not to overcook the baked custard or it will separate. If you see tiny bubbles throughout the custard, it's overcooked.

It's been a rough five days

DH & I went visiting last week and I ate something I knew I shouldn't have even put in my mouth ~ let alone swallow it. I didn't want to offend our friend, who doesn't know about my condition. I need to be much stronger and even more hyper-vigilant when eating away from home. I knew I was doing the wrong thing and I've paid BIG TIME. My husband (who is very supportive) told me that I will continue to make mistakes and I must remember the lessons I learn along the way ... he's right. My daughter tells me that I must take food and drink with me wherever I go and be more in control of what I eat & drink ... she's also right.
I've been so sick since about an hour after this incident ... five days ago :(
I have absolutely no appetite and am finding it really difficult to eat anything due to severe, on-going nausea. Because I am not eating very much I have no energy; and doing anything is becoming quite a challenge. I feel a bit 'spaced out'. I made some chicken soup last night, with the very best intentions ... but the smell of it was even more nauseating. I ended up eating about half a cup plain, boiled, white rice - AGAIN! The only other thing I've been able to force down has been homemade LF egg custard in tiny amounts. Thank goodness some of my little chookies are laying organic eggs for me again. I can eat them the same day they are laid.
I've been in this headspace before and I so understand how people develop eating disorders. It would be so easy to just stop eating. I've had food phobia before. The really weird thing is that I hardly lose any weight when this happens ... 'famine mode' taking over, I guess.
I also bit the bullet and purchased a couple of medications which many other people in my position are having excellent success with. One of them is "Fructosin". This one comes from Austria and is pretty exxy - works out at around $1.65 per capsule. I have had a bottle of these for about 2 weeks now, but some of the ingredients (esp. the fillers) make me really twitchy. I'm not sure that I have the courage to try them.
The other one is "Digest Spectrum" from the U.S. which costs about the same amount. This one is a capsule which contains the digestive enzymes that people with my condition lack. I know that a number of people who use these two alternative medications are getting really good results. I'll continue to think about whether or not I risk it while I wait for the DS to get here. I've tried several different pre-biotics and pro-biotics in the past, but they only made things worse for me. I vowed I would not put anything with numbers attached to it in my mouth, but other peoples' results have me thinking hard ....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sue Dengate's "Fedup" Roadshow, 2011

Sue is on the road!
You can read about the itinerary and buy tickets here:
I already have my ticket and am heading to Shepparton on the 17th August.
There's also a new Fedup website, which has just been launched here:
Sue & Howard have been VERY busy. The new site is much more user-friendly & heaps easier to find specific things you might be looking for. Well done guys ... thank you!
You might also be interested in reading this blog:
There are many very interesting entries and links from Emily Deans M.D.
In the meantime, the Fructosin I ordered from Austria (yep, that's AUSTRIA!!) arrived today ~ unadulterated by our Customs, for once. Now I just have to decide whether or not I will actually try it ........

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Mean Machine

DH is off having an inspection of this beast today, with a view to buying it ... for meeeeee! I didn't want to see it until after it's had that initial inspection by the banker...JIC. It's a 1971 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with a Daytona body kit fitted.
It's got a hot 350 ci motor that's had lots of work done to it to make it go harder.
I fell in love with these cars when I saw my first one ever in 1968. Of course, I would prefer a 68-69 model, but this one fits the bill too ... it's major attraction is that it's converted to right-hand drive. It should have chrome bumpers, but the body kit alters the shape and they had to come off. Everyone knows red cars go faster!!! LOL

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What a handy little hot house

As well as the worm farm, I bought a 'mini growhouse' from Hume and Iser. It was reasonably priced ~ comes in a flat pack (which I hate!!), but it was dead easy to assemble. No tools required. It will be excellent to give seedlings a head start. I placed it against a brick wall where it will trap the late winter warmth. It has a good quality clear plastic cover; as well a second, heavier opaque cover to reduce the effects of a hot sun.
The front has two zips and a roll up section for easy access. The four shelves are made from light, square wire which will need to be treated with care as they will easily go out of shape & don't look as if they'd support heavy weights. They also need to be more securely connected to the primary frame IMO. The whole thing is heavy enough to withstand bad weather. I think it will be perfect for keeping small seedlings warm & healthy before they are transplanted into the bedding containers.
I don't do things by halves, do I?!! LOL

I haz wormz

I was out & about earlier than usual today - getting worms. The worm farm I've had for years needed replacing, so I bought a new one. It's the same brand & set-up as the one I've had for yonks, but the design has definitely been improved. The legs are stronger and angled outwards. When the old one's layers were full of worms, their wee & compost, the legs weren't strong enough to hold the weight and splayed outwards, making the whole thing very unstable. This is a much more stable model. I only bought a box of 500 worms as I think they'll breed up nicely. The poor things were not very lively when I first transferred them out of their travelling accommodation into their new home. A couple of hours later they were looking much improved. I think they'll be more than happy with the compost, coir, cardboard and the few veggie peelings I've placed them in. Once they've 'settled in' they can earn their keep by converting our kitchen scraps into lovely wormy fertiliser.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

No-dig, raised veggie garden beds

I've been busy as predicted! It's taken two full days of really hard work but stage 1 of my no-dig, raised veggie garden is completed. I slept very well last night & expect the same will happen tonight. I'm so tired I can barely walk .. and sore!! The big containers are filled with ... Layer 1: thick cardboard (re-cycled house moving cartons) with thick wadges of newspaper filling the spaces. Layer 2: 30 cms deep mix of horse & chook manure (you can see some of my little fertiliser machines in the first pic). Layer 3: I raked up all those bloody dead leaves that were lying about everywhere and threw them in with a handful of blood & bone; as well as some of the broken down ashes out of the wood heater. Layer 4: thick pads of straw. Layer 5: I found some old compost, left behind by the previous owners, and added that. Layer 6: thick pads of lucerne hay which I got cheap 'cos it's weather damaged ~ perfect. This was a lot of hard work by an old girl, all by herself! I hope it works & I am harvesting yummy veggies this coming season. Stage 2 will happen once all those layers start to break down and I'll add some worms. Then for Stage 3, I'll buy either good quality garden soil, compost or potting mix to top the containers up before planting seedlings. The final, top layer will be a mix of horse manure and straw used as mulch.

Those small, round containers in the second photo are potato planters, which I saw in the gardening suppliers and thought why not? They are made from the same stuff as those blue tarps everyone uses...kwim? There are holes in the bottom and a velcro sealed trap door on the side, so you can harvest the spuds easily. I put a layer of straw & compost in the bottom and placed the Kipfler seed potatoes on it before I carefully covered them with compost. The idea is that you cover the potatoes continually as they grow, until they reach the top of the container...20 weeks or so until harvest.

The round galvanised container I originally bought for a tomato plant, but I think it might get too hot in our vicious summers so it will probably work better for a few herbs.
I'm going to ask DH to cut the old 44-gallon drum in two and use the 2 halves as well. Come to think of it, there are a few of those lying about which I can re-cycle. That way I can do some staggered planting of the veggies we like best; and that I can eat the most of.

There are nine 20+ years old mixed fruit trees on the property which yield hundreds of kilos of the most delicious fruit. Last season was a disaster with all the rain we had. What the rain didn't kill the birds destroyed one morning at daylight, so we didn't get much for ourselves last year. Even though I can't eat a lot of fruit, I will be ready for those birds this coming season. Hear me birds?? I've got two words to say to 'ya ... white netting ...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lots of hard work coming up!

Today I purchased three of these galvanised iron raised garden beds. Two of them are oval, the third is round (it's for potatoes). The range of vegs I am able to eat is fairly narrow and I am so sick of the crap from supermarkets. The soil on our property is clay and it's impossible to grow anything in it successfully.... believe me I've tried! So, I decided to go no-dig in raised beds and grow my own. I've been collecting cardboard and newspapers for some time now. There's no shortage of chook & horse manure - it will just take a lot of hard work to cart it to the containers, but the days are sunny so I'm looking forward to some exercise outside. I also have a good supply of straw and old hay. I've bought small square bales of lucerne. The recycle bin is full of kitchen scraps which are composting nicely. I kept all the leaves from the trees gathered (well, almost!) in one spot and they will form part of the mix. It will take several weeks to get all the components into the containers, but it should be magnificently ready for spring planting. I was going to use the 'old tyre' trick to grow spuds, but then my daughter reminded me about what they are made from! Instead, the local maunfacturer of the containers showed me their newest product which will be perfect. I think I'll buy a couple more of the round ones to grow tomatoes in. I can't eat much tomato, but my DH loves them and it will be fun to grow them for him.
At this stage I plan to grow some herbs, tomatoes, apple cucumber, zuchinni, green beans, potatoes, maybe some sweet corn, bush pumpkin, yellow squash and one Queensland Blue pumpkin. We have eleven fruit trees which are more than 20 years old. The fruit from them is so delicious. If I am careful, I am able to eat some of it each day. I think my next project will be to preserve some of that gorgeous fruit ... but summer is a long way off yet.
The appointment with my GP went far better than expected. When I explained why I was there, he was quite concerned & alarmed that it took me such a long time to realise what was happening with the reaction I had to the muesli bar (see below). He told me to get some Telfast or Zyrtec and to carry them at all times; and also warned me to be vigilant about nuts and seeds. He is convinced I had a 'classic' nut allergy reaction. I have a referral to a specialist ~ in Melbourne, of course! Today is 28th June. My appointment is on the 14th of November. I could be dead in the meantime ........... sigh!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

So now I have a nut allergy as well??!!!!

Quite recently, I received one of these bars in a goodies bag at an information session I attended. It was touted as being 'Fructose Friendly' because, although it contains honey, it also contains glucose in an equal ratio which evens out the fructose load. I'd had nothing to eat all day. I'd driven for two-and-a-half hours to get to the session. It was now 10:15 pm and I was still only half-way home. I was starving. Then I remembered the bar in the little green bag. Hadn't eaten a muesli bar for months, it was FM safe. So, why not I thought? Ripped the wrapper off with my teeth to eat it as I was driving through pissing rain, heavy fog & bloody great honking trucks with four headlights on full beam. Fun? No!! As I held the bar near my mouth to take that first bite, my nose said "WTF are you doing? You shouldn't be eating this, you dickhead!" Now, in the past, I've listened when my nose has spoken. On this occasion I didn't. "STFU nose!!! Mind your own beeswax!" Within 15 mins of eating the bar, my mouth and tongue were on fire! My lips were tingling. The back of my throat was burning and felt 'hard'. It was slightly difficult to swallow. By the time I got home about two hours later, the area around by mouth/chin was numb & the inside of my mouth & tongue were still on fire. The numbness was still there when I woke up next morning. I didn't get any feeling back in my lips until around 1:45pm that day. Sounds like a classic nut allergy reaction to me. Something I've never experienced in my life before, until this episode. It just keeps on getting more difficult!!!

I have an appt to see my GP in two days, but I seriously suspect I'd had an allergic reaction to the ingredients in the bar: rolled oats, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, honey, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, sesame seeds, cinnamon, glucose (made from corn/maize), oat flour, natural vanilla flavour. The glucose made from corn interests me, as I've been noticing I react to Corn Thins in a similar way ~ though it's nowhere near as intense ... just mild tingling in the lips, with mild burning mouth & tongue.

Did I read the label on the bar? No! It's written in Size 2 font and I didn't want to pull over. And THAT'S what my nose was trying to tell me. If I had read that label, there is no way I would have eaten that bar. Another hard lesson learned. I need to listen to my own advice.

I'm a bit anxious about going to see my GP with this new development. He's the one who laughed out loud at me when I told him I'd been diagnosed with FructMal. If he shows me such disrespect - hell, any level of disrespect - this time, he's likely to get snotted!! And maybe even reported ...

Interview with Patsy Castos

There's an interesting interview with the respected U.S. Dietician which you should read IMO :)

Patsy's book "IBS - Free At Last" is a very helpful publication.

An apple a day??

I finally got to attend an FM Group Session run by Shepherd Works in Melbourne, last week. I was very impressed with the presenter, Kim Menzies. She sure knows 'her stuff'. I identified with a lot of the advice she provided - just wish it hadn't been so rushed & such information overload.
One thing Kim said was that, after the initial 8-week strict Low FODMAPs diet, it's very important to challenge and re-introduce the foods you were previously unable to small amounts! The theory is that, if you don't do this, you may well lose the level of tolerance to them you DO have.
It was a timely statement for me, as I have been working on our enemy Mr. Apple for about four weeks now. I also react to salicylates and amines, so need to be extra careful. I bought just one glorious Fuji apple. I took it home and put it on the kitchen bench, where it stayed for a few days. I stroked it every time I walked past it - a bit like sex with an apple, really! LOL Then I just thought, "Stuff it, I am going to do this!!!" So, I peeled it quite thickly and ate a small quarter of it. Then I sat back and waited ~ nothing, nada, zilch, zip!!! Prior to Low FODMAPs, that apple would have been out of me within 45 minutes, travelling at the speed of sound!!!!!! Since then I have eaten a WHOLE Fuji apple ~ thickly peeled & cored, of course. I keep waiting for the grenade to go off in my bum, but it hasn't. I made sure I re-introduced this food slowly, over a period of weeks. I also made sure that I keep my intake of other fodmaps on that day at a low level. I have a whole range of other "challenging" foods to re-introduce over the coming months. It gives me hope ........

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Potts Black Rye Sourdough

This is what I had for lunch today ~ but I overdid it on the tomato & now I'm paying a bit. Should have only had three slices of tomato. I'll remember next time!!! I have bought 5 loaves of this bread now and it's been a success every time, no symptoms from the bread. I know this for sure as it was one of my challenges three weeks ago. The bread supports the theory that sourdough fermentation changes the fructans in the grain. Don't ask me how. Ask a food scientist. All I know is that I can eat 2-3 slices a day and still be OK. It has none of those 280 numbers - you know the ones! Propionates, which are used widely as preservatives in bread making in Australia. Shame on you bread makers of Australia!! Read the label in the photo to see what it doesn't have. There is gluten in the bread, so it's not suitable for people with Coeliac Disease. It is fermented for a minimum of 24 hours ... which is also good, according to the scientists, for seeing off the fructans. It's a very dark bread - almost black - more like pumpernickel in colour. It doesn't leave an aftertaste like some sourdoughs do. You can see I used my favourite 'flavour enhancer', good old iodised sea salt flakes. I added a GF blueberry muffin which I made myself so I know it had no nasties in it. DH's friend, who comes in every few weeks to chop our firewood, likes to be spoiled so I bake for him. The muffin was the only one that Mick didn't eat. Perhaps I shouldn't have, but it was a great treat! The bread stays fresh for about 3 days, then good as toast for another two. I give the last slices to either the dogs or the chooks. It's good value at less than $5 a loaf. I get mine from Woolies.

FF Chicken & Vegetable Soup

I've made this soup several times during the past four weeks and have eaten it many times without symptoms. It's tasty Low FODMAP, low amines and low salicylates. If you are not able to tolerate corn, leave it out!
I peel the vegs, cut them into chunks and give them a very quick whizz in the food processor. Keep back a few of each veg to cut into smaller chunks and add to improve the mouth feel so you actually have to chew. This is a thick & chunky soup, a meal all by itself. Add a crusty GF roll and you're set!
1 6-pack of skinless chicken 'lovely legs' (about 400g) or use whatever cut you prefer
2 medium carrots (peeled)
1 medium parsnip (peeled)
3 sticks of celery - the inner paler ones - and keep the leaves on
4 corn cobbettes - zapped for 2 mins in the microwave first
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 medium zucchini (peeled)
1/2 cup pre-cooked gluten free pasta
1 teaspoon iodised sea salt flakes
2 - 3 litres cold water
Place the chicken in a large saucepan and cover with 1/2 the water.
Peel and chop vegs, except for the corn & peas, and whizz quickly in processor with the rest of the water. Pour into pan. Dice chunks held back and place in pan. Add peas.
Cut the corn off the cobs, using a sharp knife & add to other ingredients. Add salt flakes.
Simmer on gentle heat until the vegs are soft & the chicken is cooked. Take chicken out of pan & pull meat from bones. Return to pan, add the pre-cooked pasta and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Thanks to 'Fructose Freak' for pointing out something important. I didn't explain that I peel the vegetables because I respond to amines & salicylates. There is absolutely no need to peel them if you are able to tolerate naturally occurring food chemicals, which are usually found directly under the skin.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fructose Friendly Fritters

Been thinking about these for a while now. I can't eat spinach because it's loaded with amines, but I can eat silver beet. I cooked extra 2 nights ago, bought some ricotta and had a play. Here's the result. It's not lactose free. There are amines in the cheese & bacon; as well as preservative in the bacon. However, the individual dose rate is low. Each cooked fritter weighs approx 75 grams.
I ate three, as a main meal, without any symptoms.
approx. 300g ricotta cheese
2 cups cooked silver beet
2 short end bacon pieces, cut into small strips
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese, parmesan if you prefer
125g tin corn (omit if you can't safely eat it)
2 large eggs, whisked together
about 1/4 cup of 'safe' cooking oil (I used sunflower)
Smash the ricotta in a bowl & stir in the cold silver beet.
Place approx 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy based frying pan. Cook the bacon strips in the oil til crisp. Add the bacon and drained corn to the ricotta mix. Stir in the beaten eggs and mix well. Heat oil in pan ~ just enough to crisp the outside & prevent them from sticking. Drop large spoonsful into oil, flatten gently with an egg flip. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown, turning carefully as the mixture is soft and will break. Drain on absorbent paper. Sprinkle with iodised sea salt flakes & enjoy.
The mix makes about nine fritters.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

New information to share

Dr Sue Shepherd and Dr Peter Gibson have just released a new book called "The Food Intolerance Management Plan". You can purchase it from:
It's also available through book shops & other online resources.
The next Group Session relating to FODMAPS run by Shepherd Works ...
When? Wednesday June 22, 2011 6.30pm to 8.30pm
Where? 5 Arnold Street, Box Hill (Melbourne, Victoria)
Cost? $110 pp, but each registered participant may bring a guest at no extra cost, limited to 20 participants ... 40 maximum, counting guests. The session will be facilitated by Kim Menzies.
Dr Jaci Barrett is on Twitter, where she tweets about information from her research into Low FODMAPs. I find it very frustrating when an assumption is made that everyone who needs to desperately access the most up-to-date research, may not have the technological skills to do so. I am one of those people. For those of you more techno savvy, you can find her here:!/FODMAPResearch
If this link doesn't work, click on the Twitter icon on the home page at dietsolutions:
FYI, she has shared that garlic contains four times more fructans than onions do; and that tofu, which has been tested this year, is Low FODMAP.
Up-date: I contact Dr. Barrett about my concerns (above) and to her great credit she responded very quickly. She stated: "The majority of people following me on twitter are dietitians from around the world interested in my research and private practice setup. Again, I will direct them to my website for more details. I am really trying to use all avenues to share the information".

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Power of One

About 3 weeks ago, I saw some new GF 'Fructose Friendly' products in the freezer section of my supermarket. Yippee! I thought ~ perhaps something new to try. My diet is quite restrictive; and while I don't eat pre-packaged foods very much at all, it's nice to have some choices. The first package I looked at had garlic (fructose) and onion (fructans) listed in the ingredients!! The next thing I noticed was chickpea (galactan). Hello??? 'Fructose Friendly'? I don't think so. It seems like the 'Fructose Friendly' tag is going to be the next big thing. Let's all jump on the bandwagon and make some money. I felt really angry about this misleading advertising. I ALWAYS read labels - been caught out too many times - but what about people who may not be as vigilant? So, I contacted Syndian Natural Food Products by email to lodge my protest in writing. To my surprise - and their credit - I received a delayed reply from the Director. I have included it (as written) in this post, but witheld the writer's name to protect the identity. I think there's a bit of buck passing going on, but you be the judge of that. They say they will remove the 'Fructose Friendly' labelling - I really hope they do!
Thank you for your recent enquiry. My apology for the delay, I just got back from an overseas trip.
We were made aware of similar concerns recently by a correspondence and since then we are trying to find out more about this issue through a variety of sources including CSRIO Australia, Australian Dietician Council and Sue Sheppard as well as continuous trial to find some literature regarding this issue.
We are gradually becoming aware of the changing knowledge and definitions regarding Fructose mal-absorption. When we initially claimed “fructose Friendly” on the packaging, at that stage onion was the main concern that we were aware of, for that reason non of the products that carry “Fructose Friendly” contains onion (including the Curried Pumpkin Bites).
Unfortunately we are finding that little is known yet about this issue and the knowledge is not broad base, I am sure with time more will be known but for the present time we were unable to find a clear body of knowledge that we can be guided by.
Having said that, out of concern for customers well being and despite the fact that we are claiming “fructose Friendly” and not “Fructose Free”, we decided to remove the claim “ Fructose Friendly” of these products, once there is enough knowledge we will be able to make a better judgment then to what is Fructose friendly and what is not.
As we asked every one we came in contact with regarding this issue, if you have any sources or literature eg, articles, research papers or reading material, it would be appreciated if you can direct us to.
Please feel free to contact me if you have further queries or comments.
Regards ...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fermentation of fructans in sourdough bread???

I have it on good authority ~ from other FructMal sufferers ~ that the fermentation process used to make sourdough breads changes the fructans in flour and makes the bread safe to eat. I did read the reasoning behind this, but can remember what it was .. doh!So today I bought some very nice 100% sourdough bread and ate 2 slices of it for lunch. The bread is made by RedBeard Historic Bakery and it has no added nasties. I'll know soon enough if the info about sourdough is correct! Oh well, the weekend is coming so I can easily set up a camp bed in the bathroom/toilet area. I also bought some Asafoetida to use as a flavour additive. It's supposed to be OK for us FMs to use, but just in the few minutes it's been sitting beside the 'puter, it's caused me to feel nauseous. I have learned to trust my nose implicitly, so this yellow Indian flavouring powder is going in the bin. I have no desire to try it anymore. It really sounds too much like "foetid" for my liking. Foetid means offensively malodorous - which is exactly how this horrible stuff smells to me! Having said that, I know that other FM sufferers really enjoy using it - it's just not for me.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sigh ...

This week has not been a good one ~ I pushed the boundaries a bit too much ... but I did enjoy those 8 green beans! LOL Felt quite sick for 3 days in a row, so now it's back onto the much stricter regime/diet designed for when the hydrogen breath tests are done. I plan to stick to this rigorously for a week, then maybe see what happens. I have quite a food phobia atm but the good thing is that my weight loss continues. I've now said 'good riddance' to almost 9 kgs.
Found this excellent weblog yesterday. While it is from 2008/2009, the info is still very relevant & written with an amazing sense of humour. There are 140 responses which I highly recommend you also read ... loads of helpful comments.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

White Rice with Roasted Vegetables

Cut mushrooms, zuchinni and pumpkin into chunks, then toss in olive oil to just glaze each piece. Sprinkle the pumpkin with ground nutmeg and cardamom. Bake in a hot oven til soft and caramelised. Use your preferred method to cook some white rice. While the rice cools, chop the roasted vegs into bite-size pieces. Pile rice on plate & top with the vegs. This is a very tasty combo which can be eaten by itself or as a side for various types of meat. Tried and tested by myself without any symptoms, but I only used 2 mushrooms cut into quarters to lower the polyol (mannitol) dose. Of course, don't include them if you are sensitive.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fructose Friendly Pancakes with Blueberries and Maple Syrup

OK, so maybe they're not as good as the ones made with white SR wheat flour but they were still yummy. I used Aldi's own brand 'Has no ...' Pancake Mix and made up as per directions on the packet - with eggs & milk, so this is not lactose free. The mix contains buckwheat, rice flour, tapioca starch and it did smell a little strange to me. I'll get used to it. LOL

The pancakes were light, fluffy and golden.

Taste was unfamiliar, but I still enjoyed eating them for lunch. Mouth feel was good.

So .... add 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries, 1/2 teasp white sugar and 1/2 dessertsp butter to a small pan over low heat. Stir until warmed and sticky, while you make the pancakes in a second, larger pan. Stack your pancakes on a plate, spoon the blueberries over them and then pour some Pure Maple Syrup on them as well. What a treat. BTW - I didn't eat all the ones in the pic above!

Be mindful of dose overload and what your individual threshold is :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Phew! It's on the nose

About 2 years ago I started to develop some really strong, adverse reactions to the smells of many foods. For example, tinned fish ~ any sort of fish really, chilli, deli meats, the horrible packaged soups etc which DH likes. I also hated the smells of chemicals, which made me feel sick ... but it wasn't new. I'd had that for about 20 years. I was having difficulty cooking too - I'd get part way through preparing a meal & have to stop due to nausea. I'd even dry retch on occasion. To my peril, I ignored these warning alerts from my body. If I forced myself to eat the meal that was making me feel like this I would end up with severe FructMal symptoms, sometimes within only 45 minutes! In the end DH & I just accepted it was part of the "new me". He was very considerate and set up a cooking area for himself in his shed where he could cook & eat all the things I hated.

Then, only a few days ago, I was re-reading info at the RPAH Allergy Unit website:

where I found this: Your nose may become more sensitive on the elimination diet, and strong odours and fumes may cause you to feel ill. This usually subsides after the diet is liberalized.

and this ...... Some people with food intolerances find that their sense of smell gets more acute on a restricted diet. Strong perfume, car exhaust, petrol fumes, fresh paint, cigarette smoke and other irritant smells and fumes may make you feel ill or give you a headache.

I can't wait to get all the resources I've ordered from RPAH.

Seems my snozz was right on the money!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A day from my food diary

When I first started a Low FODMAP diet, I struggled a bit to develop a daily meal plan which was tasty but didn't cause any symptoms. In the hope of helping out other newly diagnosed FructMals, here's a sample of what I can eat. Please remember that each of us need to find our individual levels of tolerance. I am very sensitive, so it's been a lot of trial and error - mostly error! What works for me, may not work for you ~ but at least this could be a starting point. I'm still trying to cut white sugar out completely, not 'quite' there yet. LOL I'm not lactose intolerant, but I mostly use LF milk ... just in! To make the small serves of tea or coffee extra special, I always use one of my beautiful eggshell china cups.

BREAKFAST: Traditional rolled oats cooked with 50-50 water & lactose free milk, sweetened with 1 tablesp maple syrup. Sprinkle 2 tablesp of Freedom Foods brand GF (Fructose Free) Fruit Free Clusters on top of porridge. (Available from Coles/Bi-Lo). Cup of Earl Grey tea with 1 tsp white sugar, no milk

MID MORNING: Original Corn Thins X 3 with a scrape of Nuttelex & Vegemite (or Nutella for an Easter treat!). 1/2 banana. Black coffee with 1 tsp white sugar or some coffee granules

LUNCH: Gluten Free wrap with cos lettuce, grated carrot, shaved cucumber, 1/2 cheese slice (shredded), 3 cherry tomatoes (sliced), 1 small mushroom (finely sliced), sliced smoked chicken breast. 8 raspberries with 2 tablesp homemade yoghurt. Cup of tea with 1 tsp sugar and milk.

AFTERNOON: 1/2 banana mashed on 1/2 gluten free bread roll. Small latte, no sugar

DINNER: Tuna Mornay (recipe below) served with steamed silver beet or spinach and white rice. Small cup of Earl Grey tea with 1 tsp sugar, no milk

SUPPER: I rarely have supper, but sometimes sneak in a cup of Early Grey tea (black, no sugar).

Alternate Breakfast: 1) GF toasted cheese or tomato sandwich 2) GF toast with Nuttelex and a scrape of jam, vegemite or peanut butter. Add a 1/2 cup serve of fruit from the safe list ... I usually have a small slice of cantaloupe.

Alternate lunch: Poached egg on GF toast + small salad.

Alternate dinner: 1) small serve of meat (dry pan fried) with vegetables from the 'safe' list (1/2 cup serves). For eg, I like mashed potato, pumpkin and steamed zuchinni or carrot. 2) GF pasta tossed with pumpkin, capsicum, tomato and mushroom chunks roasted together with a little olive oil, sprinkled with dessertsp grated parmesan cheese (or layered GF lasagna with the same ingredients). Limit the mushroom, which contains polyols, until you know your tolerance level. Be careful with capsicum & tomato too.

TREATS: 1) Patties brand GF fructose friendly lamingtons ... in the freezer section of most supermarkets. 2) D'Lush GF Double Choc & Peppermint biscuits ... Coles and Bi-Lo health foods section. 3) I also quite like Patties brand GF fructose friendly Pizza Rolls.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FructMal Tuna Mornay

After the Smoked Cod recipe disaster, I was very careful before posting this one for Tuna Mornay. I have now eaten this three times without any symptoms at all, so I believe it's safe. It does have flour used as a thickener, however the amount eaten is minimal. I am very sensitive to fructans in wheat, but I was fine. If it concerns you, use corn flour. The following amounts made 4 entree size portions. The leftovers stored and re-heated well.

30g butter

1 stalk celery, chopped fine

1 tablespoon plain flour (if preferred, use spelt flour or similar substitute)

1 cup milk (reduced fat or lactose free works well)

1/3 cup grated hard cheese (cheddar or tasty)

130g canned corn kernels

2 X 185g canned tuna in springwater, drained

3/4 cup Orgran brand GF corn crispy crumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Melt butter in medium saucepan. Sweat celery til soft. Add flour & cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in milk. Cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, add tasty or cheddar cheese, corn and tuna. Stir until cheese melts. Spoon mixture into small ovenproof dishes; or a medium sized single dish. Sprinkle with combined corn crumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 mins or until heated through & top is golden.

I served it with steamed silver beet, but a salad of choice would be nice too. Add a GF roll or fresh GF bread and you have an easy-to-prepare tasty meal which won't cause you any tears. This recipe will become a permanent one for me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reading, reading, reading

First I want to say that I deleted the post with the recipe which I had thought was FructMal safe - it possibly was - but I had a reaction to it the next day, so thought it best to remove it. I think I probably reacted to the smoked fish ... who knows what chemicals were used???

Edited to add: After speaking with a dietician at Diet Solutions, I now think I was reacting to the amines in the fish.

This past weekend was wet & cold, so I spent quite a lot of hours doing further reading.

There's a great Fructose Malabsorption Group at Yahoo. It requires registration & approval to join from the group owner/moderators, but worth the wait to access the wide knowledge and support from the other members. It was started by people in the U.S. but many Australians are very active members. There's excellent info available:

I also found a website headed by Jaci Barrett, a recognised expert in GI issues/conditions.

Diet Solutions is in Surrey Hills, Melbourne. They conduct their research through Monash University, auspiced by Box Hill Hospital. Lots of excellent info here:

You can order their Low FODMAP Diet Booklet, but not using a CC phone order unfortunately.

The order form is here:

I believe there are some inconsistencies in the Shepherd Works Low FODMAP Diet booklet. For example, brown rice is listed as 'safe' ... my most recent research indicates that white rice only is suitable for people with FructMal. Capsicum (bell pepper) is also listed as safe ... be wary! Check your sensitivity to cabbage, broccoli & cauliflower ... fructans are the enemy here. Perhaps I don't have the most recent version of the booklet. It certainly does pay to be very up-to-date.

The other important thing I learned during the past 24 hours is that so-called 'onion stock' is not safe ... be wary of Silly Yaks products. Some people are reporting reactions to these products. The very most recent research has proven that onion and garlic fructans are water soluble, so removing the flesh after cooking does nothing because the fructans will still be in the liquid. However, they are not fat soluble so it is apparently safe to infuse oil with onion and/or garlic using heat; then use that oil for cooking to add flavour. Store in the fridge and use within 2 weeks. Be absolutely sure that no flesh gets into your cooking accidently.

Personally, I intend to remain well clear of those two nasties!

Friday, April 8, 2011

My new best friend

Suffering at times from acute indigestion, bloating and wind I had been looking for something to alleviate the discomfort. Then I remembered that, immediately before a gastroscopy, the GI asked me to swallow some Infacol to break up any bubbles in my stomach. Why not I thought? It works for babies. The medicos obviously think it has a place in the management of GI procedures ... I'll give it a try. It works! I take 1/2 a syringe every time I feel that all-too-familiar painful wind trying to escape. No wonder babies cry so hard when they have colic. My GI told me that I can take as much as I need to; for as long as I need to. It's not addictive, it's safe to use. The active ingredient is surfactant, which breaks up the bubbles and helps to disperse them. It will make you 'burp' quite loudly ... but who cares? Better out, than in ... right? Infacol is sold by chemists, but I have also seen it in the baby products on supermarket shelves. It's around $AUD10 per 30mls bottle and lasts me 5-6 days.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If it's sweet, be careful what you eat

Yeah, yeah I know ... a bit obsessed, but I want to share my new knowledge & hope someone who needs the info actually finds it. If you are a FructMal, let your taste buds help guide your food choices. If it's fruit, veg or processed food & it tastes or smells sweet it probably contains fructose or fructans. Think about it. Are pears & apples sweet? Onions? Are tomatoes sweet? Asparagus? Cabbage? What about pre-packaged foods? Biscuits? Muesli bars? Processed cereals? Breads? On the other hand, Traditional Oats (porridge) smell and taste a bit, well ... bland. So does rice. Most FructMals can eat a normal sized helping of these; and foods which are made from them but without HFCS added ... be vigilant! Food manufacturers are very sneaky. Use your nose too. Your sense of smell can be a great ally. If it smells sweet ... think mango ... it's probably going to give you grief.

Seven years of Fructose Malabsorption Journey

In 2003, just before I went to the US for the first time with DH, I had a sudden onset of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) without any warning at all. It made the trip I'd been looking forward to for so long, very difficult. Over the next few years I was able to manage it, but this condition really should be called "Unpredictable Bowel Syndrome". It's painful and embarrassing. It made going to work difficult. It meant eating out was almost impossible. It made driving long distances, or any sort of travel, just about impossible. However, I was still able to visit my elder daughter to spend time with her and my grandchildren. I managed a second trip to the US with my husband; and a third with my younger daughter ... but neither of those trips was a whole lot of fun. Then in October 2009 all hell broke loose when I had to have my gall bladder removed in an emergency operation after several unbelievably painful attacks. This was followed by further surgery in December 2009 to repair an enterocoele which was caused by the violent vomiting during that final gall bladder attack. The surgeons told me my IBS symptoms might become worse, but nobody could have prepared me for what followed. Over the next 2 years my symptoms became so bad that I was housebound. Thankfully I had retired - which was just as well as there is no way I could have been working during this time. I couldn't even make it to a supermarket to do the shopping. I wasn't able to do heavy housework. I couldn't walk 200m out the back to check my animals. I couldn't confidently meet the man who delivered stock feed to our property. I literally couldn't leave the house! The very worst thing for me was that I didn't get to see my family or grandchildren very often. My daughter & I organised get togethers in Melbourne which were always fun, but to be able to manage the long drive etc I had to take Imodium and the side effects of taking that rotten stuff were not at all pleasant. In October 2010 I'd had enough!! I was severely depressed, even suicidal. It was time to find some courage, make an appointment with a gastro enterologist and try to find out what was wrong with me. I'd put it off for a long time because I was terrified about the invasive procedures I knew would need to be done, but I was now in a dark place with no quality of life. I had to wait nine weeks for that first appointment and the GI man said those two words I'd been dreading ... 'gastroscopy' and 'colonoscopy'. It was another 5-week wait for the procedures to be done. They were both negative and I was devastated. Plunged again into a reactive depression, I'd been hoping for a diagnosis of Coeliac Disease - or even bowel cancer would have been a relief. At least there would have been a diagnosis, I could have been getting some sort of treatment, there would have been some hope in my life ~ instead I was still undiagnosed, still terribly sick. My symptoms were profound. Then my daughter told me about a lady she'd spoken with who had told her about Fructose Malabsorption ... you can read about it here: I spent hours & hours: weeks & weeks researching this condition, learning as much about it as I could. Trying to understand it. Finally, a small window of hope. The more I read, the more I was convinced that this was what was wrong with me. Frustrated by the long timeframes waiting for medical appointments, I decided to be pro-active and organised for myself to have a hydrogen breath test done; and in the meantime put myself on the very strict diet required prior to performing the test. The first 7-10 days on this diet were hard. I almost gave up hope again, thinking that I was completely on the wrong track but now I know that, during those first days, I was in detox melt down! Thankfully, I persevered with the diet and the fructose malabsorption test was positive. Outwardly, I was cautiously optimistic - but inside I was ecstatic!!! I was totally convinced that I'd finally got an answer - one which Dr. Natalya & I had worked out for ourselves (NOT the medical people I'd spent months and weeks and hundreds & hundreds of dollars on). It's now been seven weeks since I began the Low FODMAP diet and the worst of my symptoms are gone! I have a life again! I've spent almost a whole day in the car driving to see my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren! I can do most things I want to do. I am still not 100% well - I have nausea, bloating and other intestinal symptoms, but it's early days still. I don't have a lot of energy ... but I AM getting better! If this is as good as it gets, I don't mind. I have a life again. Low FODMAP diet info here: Australia is a leader in Fructose Malabsorption research. We also utilise hydrogen breath testing far in advance of most other countries. Shepherd Works is recognised as a leading world expert in the treatment and management of a group of conditions (which include Coeliac Disease and Fructose Malabsorption) more widely known under the Irritable Bowel Syndrome spectrum. IBS is now more clearly defined. It's better understood. There is a lot of information available about Fructose Malabsorption. It can be hard to understand, confusing and inconsistent. It takes some sorting through - don't give up. There are food lists to help you out, but remember that individuals will have different symptoms and different levels of tolerance to different fructose/fructan containing foods. Fructans are chains of fructose molecules that terminate in a glucose molecule. They are the nasties in many veggies and wheat, spelt, kamut and brown rice (not white rice). It's a matter of working out what's best for you. What you can (but even more importantly!) what you can't eat. A specialist dietician can help you sort through it all. I see one at Shepherd Works and she has been fantastic. As a general rule, corn (NOT high fructose corn syrup ~ HFCS) and white rice are well tolerated. Wheat products are not, because wheat contains fructans. Oats are also OK. Make sure their content is 100% ... learn to read labels :) Many processed foods contain onion, apple and/or pear juice additives (for flavour). These are a huge no-no! Most fruits and many vegetables contain fructose/fructans, but there are others which don't. If you search for low fructose foods you'll find enough to keep you from starving. LOL Finally, I blogged my experience in the hope of helping at least one other person ... but please remember that I have no formal training ... so contact someone who does and I'm sure they will be able to help even further.