What the heck does low FODMAP even mean?

Note: I have absolutely no medical training of any kind. I don’t even remember whether or not I took a Science class in college. This post contains some educational elements, but please refer to the actual cited sources and your doctor for additional information.

I really like food that’s bad for me. I think a lot of people do. It’s the American Way.

I also really love fruits and veggies and lean proteins and things made of whole grains. Most days I eat plain greek yogurt, fruit and granola for breakfast, a salad for lunch and give myself a lot of wiggle room for dinner, which usually is one thing – an egg, tatertots, peanut butter toast – or I eat with a man who eats like the stereotype of an 1800’s farmer. Neither of those are great choices – one doesn’t have sufficient nutrition and the other has too much nutrition for someone who works at a desk.

I love yoga and running and bike rides through the woods. I shop the smallest size at Torrid (so I fall into the “full figure” category) and have spent a lot of time and effort on ensuring that my heart pumps well, my blood pressure is low, my physical comes back in good shape (except the weight part).

So I occupy this strange space, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. My fridge usually looks something like this:

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There’s a lot of fruits and veggies there, and a ton of stuff that’s made with cheese, because cheese is delicious.

About two months ago, I was at a conference in the amazing city of Philadelphia.

While I was there, my tummy started to hurt very badly. I assumed it was just the combination of traveling and being slightly overworked. I held on to that assumption for two and a half weeks. Everyone kept suggesting that it was morning sickness, so I saw my OB, who thought maybe dehydration, but that I should go see my Primary (also – totes not pregnant). I made it to my PCP a few days after ending up in the ER.

ER

At the ER they told me I had gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach. They gave me some medicines and I started feeling somewhat better. My PCP ran some more detailed tests and that’s how I found out I have gallstones, which evidently 80% of women get! To treat the gastritis, the doctor recommended a low FODMAP diet.

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Homework Snack Time

So, what does that even mean?

Basically, I have to eat food. Not processed things that are made out of chemicals and sold as food; I need to get as close to the farm as possible. I also have to be really careful about which foods I do eat and keep a food log. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to start reintroducing other foods, to figure out which ones are making me feel so icky.

Why did this happen?

Well, the gastritis is largely due to a combination of stress and bad food choices. The gallstones are a result of a lifetime of bad food choices. So, I’m making some changes and tweaking things and trying again and changing them and keeping on. I also will be having my gallbladder taken out. I’m actually really excited for what I’m learning about my body, and for new ways to handle stress. I am so excited to start feeling better! And, this has been tremendously humbling.

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I like to take on everything all at once and make it look completely effortless while I do it. And, I can’t anymore. For now, I need to listen to my body and rest when it’s time to rest. I have to go slow and cut what I would normally do in a week in half because it’s not going to get done. I came to this blog through that: through knowing that I needed to do a better job of accepting what is; my body is literally rebelling against me not doing that. But that belief is a story for another day.

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& Cookies

I’ve been an avid blog reader for the last six years and my favorite posts are always the personal, here’s-my-life-in-the-last-month-rounded-up kinds of things. I was thinking about this, and about my cousins son whose favorite time of the day is Cookie Time, where he, his mom and his grandma have milk and cookies. So I was thinking about the idea of having milk and cookies with people I like, but I stopped being able to drink milk around age 25, so here we are: & cookies.

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Excuse the boyfriend in the background; Saturday morning video games are pretty serious.

A friend of mines uncle gifted me this coffee table. It has some wear spots on the top, so I think I’m going to refinish it. The jury is still out on what color, if any. I tend to like the look of wood, but it would be really pretty white.

I’m also not sure if I’m going to keep the “pie crust” on the top. It seems like it could be good to have a guard between coffee cups and the carpeting since I am eternally clumsy, but I’m not in love with the look.

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Close-to-low FODMAP Shepherd’s Pie

I have had some health struggles lately with my tummy and gallbladder, so I’ve been on this low FODMAP diet. It has been challenging to come up with meals. Typically, I’m a toast & an egg or a bowl of cereal for dinner kind of eater, but I really enjoy dinnertime with D. So, I tweaked this recipe and we both loved it! Maybe I’ll do a little post of what changes I’ve made. Having to drastically adjust my eating habits very suddenly has been complicated, and it might help me process what’s going on.

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Sometimes I can’t believe I get to learn here.

The class I’m taking this semester is hybrid (half online, half in person). When we meet in-person, it’s Downtown. I snapped this after I got off the elevator because I couldn’t believe how beautiful of a view it was. I don’t go downtown very often; I live in a suburb and work, basically, in a cornfield. But I love to look at the view of the city and wonder how, a hundred years ago, people picked this place and began to build these things.

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Sorry for the blur!

On my drive in to work yesterday, I took this very blurry picture for my sister who still lives in Florida. In case you can’t read it, it says “32 DEGREES. ICE POSSIBLE.” Also, it was 7:38 a.m. and still pitch black. For those of you who are used to tundra, maybe that’s normal. But there are some things that I’m just not sure this Florida Girl will ever fully understand.

The snow is coming, y’all. And it is absolutely beautiful. And absolutely not my favorite thing.

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Look at that belly!

I’ve been doing some extra resting lately, as I adjust to new foods and new ways of being. I’m grateful that I can work from home sometimes, and I think Javier is too. He’s been my little snuggle bunny lately.

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t already a crazy cat lady, but that’s just life, I suppose.

Feeny

I’ve been watching a lot of Boy Meets World lately. Source.

 

What I’ve Learned about Laundry

Let me start this off by saying that I am not a laundry expert and what works for me may not work for you, but what works for me has been working for me for over a decade.
The main, life-saving thing I’ve figured out about laundry is that I don’t have to do as much of it as my mother.
Wait, what? I know, I know. But, I grew up with six people in my house. Three of us wore uniforms to school and played sports and had play clothes. The four of us girls were particularly good at trying on an outfit, discovering it was “wrong,” throwing it on the ground and a week later, assuming it was dirty. Meaning my mom did, at a minimum, eleven loads of laundry a week. When I first went to college I did seven to eight loads a week. In my mind, moms way was the right way so I needed to model what I had seen.
A few years later I realized that I don’t have four children. My cat doesn’t wear clothes and honestly, since I work in an office, if the weather is nice, a lot of times I’ll change right out of my work clothes and into something else and hang my work clothes right back up to be worn again before washing.
I kept some pieces of moms methods though. I’ve tried many different detergents (someday I’ll tell you my peanut butter story) and fabric softener/dryer sheet combos. I like Tide detergent and Downy fabric softener the best, which is what she uses. And I sort my clothes into piles on the floor, just like she did.
laundry floor piles
I don’t make a crazy amount of piles. Mostly I separate out whites/towels, sheets/pillowcases, everything else. If D has things here, I separate his out too because they tend to be covered in motor oil and don’t want to risk that getting on my clothes. I put the piles on the floor the night before I do the laundry so that they can’t be missed.
Because of the length of time it takes to wash vs. dry, I usually wash whites first. It takes 28 minutes to wash whites & over 40 for most other things, but the dryer is pretty much always an hour. So I knock out the shortest wash first.
Mixture of Whites
I was doing whites and towels separately for most of my life. Then one day I realized: whites and towels get washed at the same temperature and typically with the same intensity. So I started putting them together and made one less load because, unlike my mother, I don’t actually have 11 loads worth of laundry.
Sort sort sort
I do my laundry every week, regardless. My sisters can all tell you the laundry motto of the family: do smaller loads more often. The reason for that is actually because the laundry isn’t what’s annoying: the folding is. If you have less to fold at a time, you’re less likely to become overwhelmed.
As I fold, I sort into piles the way that they’ll go into my drawer: jammies, worker clothes, leggings, t-shirts. I make a separate pile for things that will be hung up.
Even Sort Hanging
I sort what will be hung up too. If I’m already in sorting mode, I figure I might as well. Having things already sorted down makes putting them away even easier.
 
A couple tips to make laundry easier:
  • Before I go to bed every night, I put my clothes in the laundry basket. This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes I come home, do a quick change and leave again, which means clothes quickly start to pile up places. I’m also notorious for leaving a stack of cardigans on a kitchen chair because that’s where I got hot.
  • When possible, wear it again. Clothes aren’t made to be washed a bazillion times. I tend to keep a very limited closet and so I change when I get home from work and hang my work clothes to air out. If it’s hot or I walked a bunch with my puffy coat on or just generally got sweaty, I through it in the basket, but otherwise, I save myself the headache of the wash.
  • Wash the load with the shortest wash-time first. This sounds really meticulous, but I found that I wash something that took 45 minutes, then throw it in to dry for an hour while something that took 28 minutes was washing and I’d be really annoyed by the fact that my wet clothes had to sit there that long.
  • If you have kiddos, chances are your mom knows a lot about how to manage the laundry. I’m not a great resource for this. I just know that she did about two loads a day and that worked for her. If I had been a more attentive daughter, I would know when she did those loads, but I was too busy teenaging to pay attention (sorry mom!).
  • If you have a particularly small load, toss in a blanket or two. I do this all the time. I have a bunch of blankets in my family room and at the change of the season I will wash them all in one load. But between now and then, I just toss them in when I can. I don’t have small children with jammy hands and the cat is very particular about his blankets (his get washed when I wash my bedding), so the others don’t get dirty very quickly.
 
Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve figured out over the years:
  • Doing laundry once a week means I know exactly how much to budget for laundry & helps me keep my load smaller.
  • If I do the laundry every week, there’s less clutter in my house because there isn’t laundry everywhere.
  • Smaller loads means less to fold and put away.
  • My moms methods are awesome for a mom with a lot of kids. I’m not a mom with a lot of kids, so I have to adapt.

Grown Up Saturday Morning

I don’t care for grocery shopping or paying bills and I don’t like laundry. I don’t love standing in lines. I don’t love spending money. I don’t love having to make a thousand decisions about one bag of corn. And I definitely don’t like feeling bound to my home and a task.

So over the past few years, I’ve tried to come up with ways to make these things fun and feel minimal. Obviously the easiest way to do that would be to send the laundry out and have the groceries delivered. But I work in a school, y’all. I’m looking for every way I can to save money. All of these things getting done and feeling that way rely very heavily on my Saturday morning schedule.

Saturday Morning Schedule


Note: 
I get paid on Saturdays, which is how this schedule came into being (more on that to come).

My Saturday morning schedule actually starts during the week. All week long I write down the bills I have to pay and the things I want from the grocery store. I keep them on sticky notes in my planner. This took a long time for me to get used to but I kept leaving the grocery store without essential things like soap.

On Friday night I sort my clothes before I get into bed, no matter what time I get home and I put the first load (whites) into the laundry basket. This is essential. The clothes on the floor both remind me and obligate me to the laundry; the laundry in the basket means I have no excuse.

7:30 or 8am – Saturday morning I’m usually awake by 7:30 but not alive yet. My work schedule means I’m up around 6am on the weekdays, so I’ve started using that to my advantage. 7:30, still in my jammies, I take the first load downstairs to the washer (my apartment has one set of machines for the whole building). Sometimes I set the alarm and go back to sleep until the first load is washed. But usually, I make a cup of tea or coffee and sit down at the kitchen table and pay bills. This way, the money is out of my account and I know what I have left for groceries and the rest of life.

8am – Put whites in the dryer, add the next load, set a timer. Then I grab my laptop, a notepad, my planner, a calculator and my warm morning drink.

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It’s rainy here this morning, so it’s the perfect time for quiet productivity

I’ve paid the bills, so now I need to figure out how much money I have for the week. What’s coming up? I need to get a seven year old a birthday present. Winter’s on it’s way and I donated my boots last year. Am I too old to be a fairy princess for Halloween? I take all these questions into consideration and formulate my budget.

9am – Pull out the whites and put the next load in the dryer. Depending on the season and the week, I might have two more loads to do. I do more laundry in the summer than in the winter. And in the summer I wash sheets every week, while in the winter it’s more like every other (judge if you want; laundry costs $1.75 to wash or dry and that adds up quick). This week I’m washing sheets, so I take the sheets off before I start folding.

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I have this amazing fuzzy blanket that’s on my bed. Apparently you can only dry it on super high heat or you end up with millions of blue fuzzies all over your bed.

Then, I take my list I’ve been writing down all week and merge it with new things. I use my planner to tell me how much cooking I’m going to have to do – are there work lunches? date nights? classes? I write everything down that I might want. Then, I look it all up.

This process is painstaking, which is why I do it at the kitchen table. The view makes me hate it less.

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I’ve learned to turn my grocery list into a quiet game I play with myself in the morning. How low can I get the cost while still feeding the cat and myself? I go through the sale ad, look up prices, find coupons. It becomes a math game, but it didn’t start out that way. It came about because of necessity – I was broke but still needed to eat. Now I’m not rich, but I’m less broke and still need to eat.

10am – pull the second load, fold it and go to the grocery store. Depending on the length of grocery list, I might have put another load in the washer at 9am and done a mad dash through the grocery store (more on that to come). Mine’s a little longer this week, so I’m going to ask my mom if I can do a load at her house since she lives by the cheaper grocery store. This way I’m not that annoying neighbor who leaves their clothes in the dryer for two hours after it’s done drying.

Why on earth would you use your Saturday morning for this instead of cartoons and brunch and sleeping more?

Because I also have Sunday morning and my Sunday will be so much more enjoyable if this is all done.

Also, sometimes I do it on Sunday if my Saturday is busy or even if I really just don’t feel like it. Planning this for Saturday means I have a day of grace. Plus I’m usually done by noon, so it’s not like the whole day is shot.

What I’ve learned from doing this

(1) I can use my overwhelming Lutheran guilt for good: I can guilt myself into getting my laundry done by leaving it on the floor. That’s much better than letting that same guilt lead me into unhealthy relationships, work habits or thoughts.

(2) On rainy or snowy mornings, I keep the lights low so I’m still enjoying the gentleness of the rain. On sunny mornings, I open all the curtains and turn on more lights to I feel invigorated by the outside world. It makes the task less daunting to have nature on my side.

(3) We’re really only talking about four hours of life. If I did all of this separately, we’d be talking about six to ten hours. Smashing all of this together means it’s over and done with in one fell swoop.

(4) hate when people leave their clothes in the washer or dryer for long periods of time and so I try not to be that person. I didn’t know that about myself until I realized the problem I had with laundry was that I felt like I couldn’t leave my apartment while I had clothes in.

(5) I’m definitely not too old to be a fairy princess for Halloween.

 

 

How Did I Get Here?

I don’t believe that we can understand right now without understanding what came before it. A thousand trees have lead me to this place, and a thousand bouts of deep laughter.

Family

Those tiniest of feet are mine

I grew up in a coastal town in South Florida with five of the best people I’ve ever met: my mother, my father and my three older sisters. Each of us is very much our own, and very much part of each other.

college

I spent my college years studying Literature and Religion at a large state college in North Florida. I went for college and stayed for the trees and the amazing job I had working with college students & non-profits.

many houses

With a high population of college students, the city I lived in was incredibly transitory – meaning I moved 11 times in the eight years I lived there. My ability to swiftly load a minivan with boxes and move a couch on top of my car are two of the things of which I am most proud.

grateful

A lot of things happened when I turned 24 and I moved back home to be with and help my parents. I took a number of jobs – ghost writing, working with a publisher, marketing a real estate company & tutoring college students – all at once. It was a blissful nine months of risk-taking, beaching and helping the family prepare to move north, to Michigan!

Campus

As much as I grew up in South Florida, I grew up in Michigan. My mother is from here; three of the four of us were born here; and I spent every summer from the time we moved (when I was 2) until I was 21 here. I’ve been living here since 2015. At first I stayed in my parents house with one of my sisters and her husband and my parents. I worked in a hotel for a few months before beginning work at a university that’s tucked into the trees.

And then Javier and I moved again, to a little apartment six minutes from my mom and dad!

Mudbog

In June of 2016, I jumped as far out of my comfort zone as I could come  up with and went to a mud bog (where big trucks go into the mud and try not to get stuck). While I was there, I met a tall, quiet man who I still can’t get enough of.

I don’t super-love trucks, can’t eat twelve tacos in one sitting, and often can’t get out of the details of my own brain. None of those things are true for him, and because of that, I think we balance each other out pretty well.

 

After a million moves, a million jobs, a million cities and ideas, I’m finally holding still. I work full time and am a part-time masters student. Between those two things and the rest of life, I’ve learned to thrive on structure. I love lists, meal prep, cleaning plans – anything that can be put in order or give my life order.

But that’s not always realistic. Sometimes you have to move again. Sometimes you can’t afford curtains and have to figure something else out. Sometimes you turn your back for one minute and the cat is on your kitchen counter eating the corn, or has laid down where you’re supposed to be working.

That’s life. It’s messy. It doesn’t always have clean lines and perfectly made beds and end tables that match. I struggle with that. And while I don’t think I’ll ever hit the point where I’m 100% comfortable wearing pajamas to a cook-out, I am learning how to get right with it. And the learning is messy. So I thought I’d try to write it all down – successes and failures – to help me to remember to trust the process and that life is about living, not arranging.