Travel Series – Road Tripping with Fructose Malabsorption

Along the Petaluma-Point Reyes Rd.

Road trips are possibly my favourite way to travel; you get to see so much more of the landscape than if you fly everywhere and I find that cities tend to look the same after a while. To be able to drive down the west coast of the USA and see lush greenery and snow-capped mountains turning first into farm land and then into a more arid landscape complete with mesas is pretty awesome. Also, California is full of eucalyptus trees, which reminds us of home and smell amazing, as well.

In my opinion, road trips are also the easiest type of holiday to take while on a low FODMAP diet, as you can really be in control of your food if you plan ahead and pack an Eski (cooler) with sufficient supplies.

I will outline below how I manage my meals on a road trip:

Step 1: Make an itinerary and food list

I am a list maker, so is my sister. It’s something we’ve always done, as we’re OCD control freaks who can’t bear to be disorganised. Plus, it’s fun. Luckily for me, Ev is the same… although he hates packing his own bag. But he’s not the one with FM, so that’s not such a big deal.

Being a list maker means that I like to plan each leg of the road trip with hours and distances and town names. This is good, as it will help you with step 2. Another way to make step 2 easier (well, the act of eating at the restaurants that you’ve researched) is to call ahead or go armed with a list of foods that you CAN EAT (make sure it’s labelled clearly, so you don’t get a plate of onions sauteed with apples on whole wheat toast) to make both your life and those of the wait staff and cooks much easier.

Step 2: Research local restaurants and eateries

Before you go out to dinner, you would find online menus or call the restaurant you’re thinking about going to and see if they can provide a meal for you; travelling is no different. The key to a relaxed holiday (and gut!) is planning. I know lots of people who like to wing it – I have never been one of them – but a “we’ll find something, don’t worry” attitude is more likely to lead you to either an irritated or hungry gut later on if you are following a FODMAP friendly diet.

Either before you leave home, or each day of your trip (if you have internet connectivity), scout out a few potential cafes and restaurants and note their locations with regards to your itinerary. What town will you be driving through at lunch time? Does the town you plan to spend the night at have a restaurant or supermarket that you can source meals from?

Some tips:

  • To reiterate – PLAN AHEAD.
  • Restaurants that already cater to other dietary requirements (gluten free, vegan, nut free etc) will generally be more likely to be able to create a meal for you.
  • Fast food chains can still provide salads – just request no dressing or croutons etc – and hot chips/fries will do in a pinch, as long as they’re suited to other non-FODMAP issues you might have.
  • Choose simple meals that require minimal alterations to be suitable – it’s both ridiculous and rude to think they’ll be able to make you an onion free lasagne but to whip up a salad sans onion and dressing is much easier and many restaurants make their salads as ordered, anyway.
  • Don’t forget about supermarkets, as you can always find gluten free breads/crackers, cheese and suitable veggies etc to fill your stomach.
  • Busier restaurants will find it harder to tailor a meal to you, so eat at quiet times, even if that does mean sitting down to dinner before 6 pm.
Breakfast - an omelette with potatoes and green capsicum.

Breakfast – an omelette with potatoes and green capsicum.

Dinner - a chicken salad sans croutons and dressing on the side.

Dinner – a chicken salad sans croutons and dressing on the side.

Step 3: Pack emergency foods

If you’re driving down a deserted highway and you can’t find anywhere to eat, things can get ugly; this is true even if you don’t have a food intolerance. I tend to become very irritable when I’m hungry (more like a 6 year old than a 26 year old) and I’m sure I’m not pleasant to be around when I’m like that. In fact, even when we’re not road tripping, Ev will tell me to eat something if I’m beginning to get grumpy.

I think packing an emergency food supply is a good thing to do for road trips, regardless of FM. Things to consider when packing a food kit include:

  • A variety of foods for different meal times – I know I wouldn’t want a tin of tuna for breakfast but would be happy to eat it any time after lunch.
  • Non-perishable foods (or at least foods that will keep for a few days outside the fridge) are best.
  • Easily digestible foods that won’t tax your gut too much.
  • Pack the food in an Eski/cooler/freezer bag/car fridge (whatever you’d like to call it) to prevent any mishaps of food left in a car on a hot day. Besides going hungry if your food has gone off, it’s also a waste of money.

Examples of what I might pack:

  • FODMAP friendly veggies of your choice, such as carrot sticks, celery (if you can tolerate polyols), cucumber etc.
  • FODMAP friendly fruits, to a lesser extent, such as bananas and berries. These will need to be kept in a hard case, as they’ll bruise easily while travelling.
  • Muffins, as sometimes a piece of fruit or a carrot stick just isn’t enough. Some good options include my banana nut or pumpkin and chive muffins.
  • Pre-packaged snacks, such as corn chips, rice cakes or gluten free pretzels.
  • Suitable GF or sourdough bread and sandwich fillings, such as ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato, or even just jam and Vegemite (though never together!).

Step 4: Be prepared for the worst

Even the most diligent planning can’t prevent a slip up here or there. A waiter might not take your request seriously, or simply misunderstand you; or you might sneak a food in and hope that your FM has gone on holiday elsewhere. Go prepared with a kit containing methods you know will help to alleviate your symptoms.

My emergency FM kit would include some or all of the following but yours may be different:

  • Paracetamol (acetaminophen in the USA) – ibuprofen is a known gastric irritant, so I personally don’t take it. I’m not recommending that you do take paracetamol but it’s my preferred method of choice for helping to ease intense cramps, which aren’t fun even when you’re not on holiday. At home I might try another method first (such as water or tea) but when I’m away from home I’ll go straight to the Panadol.
  • Dextrose – to help offset any excess fructose that you may have ingested, swallowing dextrose (glucose-glucose) ASAP will help to even out the glucose/fructose ratio and potentially prevent a reaction. This all depends on how much fructose you consumed, how much glucose you followed it with and your gut’s own behaviour.
  • Any supplements that you take, so for me this would include my probiotic and multivitamin. For you it may include digestive enzymes, ACV, bicarb soda etc.
  • Any other methods that you can take with you that is feasibly going to be useful in case of a reaction. For example, I will often drink tea with ginger, lemon and mint to help settle my gut but am I always going to have access to a kettle? Something along the lines of Buscopan or Beano would be more suitable for a road trip but I do not recommend relying on a product you haven’t tested before to stop a reaction unless you have no other choice. Buscopan (etc) might help some with IBS but it might not help at all or even worsen your symptoms.
  • Water and lots of it. Not only is it healthier for your gut and body to remain hydrated but if you have to take a tablet, it’s a lot easier to take it with water than dry. You could crush up some ginger, mint leaves and lemon slices and leave them sitting in your water bottle (remember to change them daily) to infuse the water and help keep your gut happy. Water is also useful for washing things… and on that note,
  • Wet wipes/baby wipes, in case of an emergency cleaning situation.

This sounds like a lot and if it overwhelms you, I’m sorry. Just please remember that you can still enjoy a road trip while on the low FODMAP diet with some extra planning; just like road tripping with kids or dogs… but we still do that!

If you have any other tips that I have forgotten, please let me know in the comments section below. Happy holidaying!

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Whole Grain Pumpkin and Chive Muffins – FODMAP/Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Whole Grain Pumpkin and Chive Muffins

I whipped up these little beauties after being inspired by the super-soft and fluffy zucchini quinoa muffins I made from Patsy Catsos’ cookbook, Flavour Without FODMAPs Cookbook – Love the Foods that Love You Back and before going on a road trip from Seattle to San Francisco and back.

If you’ve read the “My FM Journey” page, you will know that I was diagnosed with FM back in 2006, so I’ve had 8 years to perfect my methods of travelling on a fructose friendly diet. Granted, I can now have some onion and garlic, which makes life a lot easier than it used to be but you can travel while eating low your version of the low FODMAP diet – it just takes a little bit of extra planning.

These muffins lasted a week in an airtight container within an Eski (cooler) and remained fluffy the entire time. If I’d had some, I would have added in Feta cheese to give the flavour a bit of bite but they are still delicious without it and sometimes I wonder whether good Feta isn’t too expensive to waste in muffins and Parmesan cheese would also do. Either way, these muffins are a delicious savoury treat, perfect for a snack or to serve with soup.

Notes:

  1. Pumpkin is a tricky one. What we call pumpkin in Australia, Americans call squash. This difference in naming can make figuring out low FODMAP varieties even more difficult than it already is. Jap pumpkins (squash) are low FODMAP, as are the American pumpkins (that we don’t get in Australia).
  2. Brown rice is a whole grain, quinoa is a seed – they are very close in performance, baking-wise and I often sub one flour in for the other without issue. Thus, if you either don’t have or can’t tolerate one of them, the other works just as well.
  3. Almonds are low FODMAP in servings of 10 nuts – there is only 1/4 cup spread out over 12 muffins, so this will fall well under that.
  4. Buckwheat flour is reportedly a good substitute for almond meal, if you can’t tolerate almonds at all.
  5. Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are low FODMAP, however as seeds are high in fibre, some cannot tolerate them regardless. Leave them out if you think you’re one of them, or swap them for another seed, such as sunflower seeds, flax seeds (linseed), chia seeds etc.
  6. The green parts of chives are low FODMAP.

Pumpkin and Chive Muffins

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 300 g pumpkin puree
  • 180 g brown rice or quinoa flour
  • 45 g corn meal
  • 70 g almond meal
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup finely minced green chives
  • Optional flavour variations, to mix in at the end – 1/3 cup Feta cheese, crumbled; 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, minced (if tolerated); 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely sliced.

Peel, dice and bake pumpkin at 180 C/350 F for 30 minutes, or until completely cooked, then puree it with your immersion blender or similar. If pumpkins are out of season, tinned puree will also do. Leave the oven at 180 C after the pumpkin has cooked.

Meanwhile, combine the flours, pepitas, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl and set aside.

Blend the eggs, butter and pumpkin puree until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and stir to combine before adding in the minced chives and/or any other flavour variation you’d like.

Divide the mixture between a 12 hole muffin tray and bake at 180 C for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a centre muffin tests clean with a skewer.

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Enjoy with a bowl of hot soup, or take as a snack to keep you going throughout your work/school day.

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