How has it been?The first few days were great. My tum was very happy with me. Go forward a few days, and I'm constipated, uncomfortable and grumpy. I guess it's my fault for having coeliac-friendly chocolate kiddie cereal for breakfast most mornings...
I should have had loads of fruit or a bowl of quinoa or buckwheat. So that's what I'm going to do next week.
I feel really disappointed, and I'm feeling rather despondent about my IBS overall. Am I restricting my diet for no real benefit? If I ate crap would be tummy actually be any worse? I had to work hard this week to ignore that voice in my head. I'm remembering how much worse my tummy was last year. That said, my diet wasn't too bad. I still cooked a lot, but I ate more bought cake, biscuits, supermarket bread (albeit the "artisan" stuff, omg I can't believe they can get away with calling it that) and drank more alcohol (by this I mean a few beers and 1/2 bottle wine a week). Tummy aside, I've seen other benefits. I've never before been consciously happy about my body, suddenly, I'm perfect for me. Last time I was vegan I was probably this slim (maybe even more so), but I didn't really notice. I guess becoming flabbier since has made me more body conscious. My skin looks a great deal better, and my dysmenorrhea and PMS are almost non-existant. I turned to veganism for an IBS cure, and I found happiness in consuming according to my convictions. I guess I had put up a mental wall about the ethics of dairy.
So veganism is here to stay. What about gluten free?
Well, I'm pleased to say, sluggish colon aside, that it's been fun. I have found loads of great recipes using wonderful gluten free grains/pseudo cereals and their flours; teff, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, millet. I spent excessive amounts of online time trying to track down online suppliers. Best of all, I think gluten free grains are much probably much better for a vegan who likes running. The protein and mineral content of these pseudo cereals is much higher than wheat, rye or barley. So I'm embracing them wholeheartedly. I had already discovered buckwheat pancakes and socca, and preferred them over wheat-based flatbreads.
The only area where going wheat free will leave me a little bereft is bread baking. I've posted before about my sourdough loving ways. While my favourite book does have a fab gluten free section with instructions for a rice sourdough, I'm betting it's not quite the same. However, after eating all that bread in France, I'm kind of glad, for now, to do without it. Maybe by the time I start craving it again I'll have read enough gluten free bread recipes to feel confident about making some.
For now, thinking about my meals without wheat flour products can only do me good. As it's now early summer in Northern Ireland, my stomach is thinking more giant salad than pasta dish. Salad doesn't mean diet food; I've been adding toasted seeds, oils, hummus and brown rice or quinoa to mine. Plenty of tasty fats and enough protein. I'm currently obsessed with spinach- for a while I shunned it for kale or collards because most of the iron in spinach can't be absorbed. However, it's all put to rights with a generous helping of quinoa or amaranth. Drool.
So, while I may or may not have a problem with wheat and/or gluten, taking it out of my diet will definitely have me eating more wholegrains and probably increase my protein and mineral intakes. No bad thing.
All this wholegrain munching means being better prepared. The freezer is my friend. I cook big pots of brown rice after prolonged soaking and then stash it in the freezer for quick fixes. My shelled hemp seeds, flaxmeal and ground coffee live there too, it keeps them fresh. So do chopped up bananas for smoothies and bananascream as well as other frozen fruit- raspberries, blueberries, cherries, mangoes. Other prep is necessary for an easy life too, if I whip up hummus and pesto or some other tasty dressing, I can throw together a tasty lunch to take with me while the blender is making my breakfast. An hour or two's prep at the weekends makes a restricted diet wee buns*.
Finding great new sources of information is a big bonus, I love my nutrition book I picked up in Toulouse, lots of tasty healthy ideas, like chocolate cake with banana, rice flour and almond butter, "creme caramel" with rice cream and agar etc etc. I will be trying some of these out soon.
I also discovered a new blog this week, too: Gluten Free Goddess
This quinoa loving deity makes me drool like a teething baby. I have a list of her recipes as long as my arm to try out.
So there are things that make it seem easier. But I've come to the reluctant conclusion that curing IBS cannot be done by dietary restrictions alone. There must be some underlying cause, and until someone works out what that is, we IBSsers will only be rooting around in the dark. Sure, diet can make it a little more tolerable for a while. But I think we have to give up kidding ourselves that a cure can be found in the bottom of a supplement jar or by chucking out a couple of packets of flour. Unfortunately.
*wee buns= Northern Irish for easy