28 March 2012

Diary of a FODMAPee : Week 2

So I'm craving. They said I would, but I didn't realise it would be this bad. Mostly I'm craving these things:
  • Nandos
  • Pizza, pizza, pizza
  • Mini Eggs
  • Doughnuts (odd, because I never really ate doughnuts before)
  • Biscuits (the custard cream variety in particular)
  • Guinness 
The cravings are bad when I'm at home, but I can always just pop out to the kitchen and sort them out with a hazelnut kernel or a Nutella smeared rice cake. (Yes, I know it sounds sad.)  But the trouble starts when I'm out and about. Eating out on the FODMAP diet is an absolute nightmare. I've become the difficult customer. The fuss pot. Everyone thinks it's because I'm trying to lose weight. I receive such disapproving looks being a size 10 dress size sitting in Wagamamas and asking to see the vital statistics of my itame rice noodle soup.

Two weeks in, and I'll have to hold my hands up to having given into my cravings only twice. But really, I've been quite good.

The Good - Day Ten

I'd gone for a glass of wine after work with Liam, and after picking out a nice Malbec (chosen second place to a cold pint of Guinness) we settled down on one of the sofas. Liam picked up the flyer on our table and mentioned casually how it was £5 pizza night.

"It's okay, I wont get one..." He said, in a sad sort of voice.

The cranky craving voice inside my head was all indignant: Of course you won’t get one. If I can't have a big wheaty pizza, you can't either!
But I remembered how he'd graciously eaten quinoa and celery dinners the past week as moral support, so I smiled weakly and said;

"Oh go on, get one. I don't mind... Really."

I half meant it.

Although, as the bartender bought out the most enormous gooey, cheesy and tomatoey pizza, with whopping amounts of pepperoni on top, I began to seriously regret it.

"I bought one with extra pepperoni, so you wouldn't feel too bad." Liam said, picking up his knife and fork.

That was true, I hated pepperoni. Although, today... looking at this pizza, I would have eaten the lot (vegetarian or not). It smelt amazing.
After he'd devoured most of the pizza (whilst I clutched my big glass of Malbec, eyeing every mouthful and shaking slightly), he sat back and rubbed his belly, having left a row of half-eaten crusts around the edge of his plate.
I felt like one of those dogs who sit under the table at tea-time. 
I turned to him, before suggesting rather hopelessly;

"Do you reckon it'd be okay if I suck the crusts? - I could spit them out after?"

"Um. No. I don’t." He said.

So I didn't. 

The Bad - Day Fourteen

It was Sunday, and I was in a foul mood. Perhaps because it was one of the most beautiful sunny days we have had in London all year and I was stuck in Westfield Shopping Centre, or maybe I was in a strop because I'd lost my debit card, and couldn't buy anything. It was busy, so everyone seemed to get in my way and none of the mirrors in the changing rooms made me look good in anything. As all the shops started to close at 6:00pm, Liam turns to me.

"I'm really hungry. Do you fancy a Nandos?"

I shot him a look, pissed off he'd mention one of my forbidden foods at a time like this.
But he carried on;

"Look - you can have the chips ('cos really, they're just potato), corn-on-the-cob, maybe mashed potato...? Even chicken!"
"But I'm supposed to be a vegetarian..." I trailed off.

It's been a bit of an issue being a vegetarian and on the FODMAP diet. I'd need to eat about a hundred eggs a day to get my daily dose of protein, as I'm not really a fan of fish. The dietician shook her head when I told her I'd decided to go veggie since Christmas for 'ethical reasons'. She looked at me like I was nuts when I told her I didn't really like fish, and I only liked 'seriously cheesy' omelettes covered in tomato ketchup.
The letter she wrote to my GP set me straight (and covered her own arse) stating in black and white how she strongly advised me to eat chicken, fish and more eggs. Perhaps a trip to Nandos was a good opportunity to break my morals in order to get healthy.

"Okay. Let's do it." I said to Liam, and beamed for the first time that afternoon.

I hadn't anticipated the temptation of Nandos sauce. Everyone who's been to Nandos knows that their spicy sauce is quite simply, incredible.  That sauce - a secret recipe, a hot, peri-peri dream that tingles on your taste buds and stamps you with a loyalty to Nandos that doesn't ever budge, believe me. Trying my luck, I walked up to the counter to find the manager.

"Excuse me; I wondered if I could see the ingredient list for the Nandos sauce?" I asked politely.
"You've got allergies?" The manager asked.
"Kind of."  I said, as he thumped a gigantic catalogue-style book on the counter.

He flicked through the pages, listing all the diets that could eat the sauce.

"Wheat free... soya free... egg free.... All fine. No problems with the sauce." He said proudly.
As I felt embarrassed enough asking in the first place, I didn't like to explain that my diet was a complicated one, which wasn't even on his list. I simply said:
"What about onions and garlic? Does the sauce contain those?"
"Are you allergic...?" He began.
"Um. Well. No..." I said, blushing.
"...because if you’re allergic to onions, I really wouldn't eat that sauce."
"Right, thanks." I said before scuttling back to my table as quickly as possible.

Liam looked at me, expectantly.
I turned red. 
"Well he didn't say it was 100% ok, and he didn't say it wasn't."
"Oh." he said.
There was a pause, where the good and the bad angel on my shoulder had a minor row. The bad angel won.  
"Do you reckon I could claim ignorance on this one..?" I said, wrinkling up my nose.
And without waiting for an answer - I did.

23 March 2012

Delivery Man

He walks into reception, just as I'm about to start packing my things away at the end of the day. He's a fair bit older than most of the other couriers who drop packages off at my reception and almost limps out the lift to prove it. He looks kind of grubby, his luminous jacket covered in all that soot dusting about London, and his hair looks like a mass of wire wool that continues around his chin to form a Santa-like beard. 

"Hello!" I sing, making a point of smiling at him.  

I think I've seen him before. I vaguely remember that unusual heavy-duty luminous jacket with the big pockets.

"Hello, again." He says in a low, gruff voice, (confirming my wondering). His accent is heavy, although I'm not quite sure where in the world I'd place him.

He hands me the parcel over my desk, with a friendly, "And 'ow are you?"  

"Oh, I'm fine, having a nice afternoon. How are you doing?" I reply automatically, and so was quite surprised when I heard him answer;


My eyes widen. I look at his face. Wrinkles piling up on top of each other, his mouth has slipped into a sad thin line. Come to think of it, he looks a little like an Arabic version of my Grandad. As he sighs a long sigh, I notice a slight twinkle in his eye.

"Oh, no! That really is terrible." I say, happy to play along. "What's making you feel so bad?"

He shrugs and raises one hairy eyebrow. 

The tone of his voice lowers into to a whisper as he hands me his tablet to sign.  "Aaah... It's my job." He says sadly.

"Your job?" I take the pen from him and quickly scribble my signature. He nods as I hand it back to him. 

"Oh no! You know, you really shouldn't be doing a job that makes you feel terrible... Surely you can find one that makes you feel happy on a Friday afternoon!?" I say smiling at him. 

Always a fixer, I pause from my work for a minute to give him my complete attention. After all, he seems such a sweet old man. "Okay." I say, tilting my head to the side and looking pointedly at him. "So, if you could do anything, anything in the world, what would you really love to do?

And quick as a flash, he looks me straight in the eye and says;

"Have lots of sex." 

14 March 2012

Diary of a FODMAPee : Week 1

I am a wheat-free, lactose-free, vegetarian. God, help me.
It's one heck of a label, and one that brings up the same query, no matter who I tell:

"So, what actually can you eat?" They ask, scratching their heads.

My answer: "Rice..."

Don't worry, it's not just rice.
The mystery stomach pains I've had over the past goodness knows how many years, has finally been whittled down to probably being food allergy related. And so I'm on a specific diet called the FODMAP diet, which eliminates all fermentable carbohydrates from your diet. These are (in some people) foods that don't seem to digest properly in your small intestine. So I'm on this diet for eight weeks. But just in case I'm also intolerant to the moo-juice, I'm off milk too.

Right now, my kitchen cupboards are clear of anything naughty. I've done my big shop, bought wheat-free pasta for an extortionate £2.50 a packet, listed my suitable vegetables and stuck the list firmly to the fridge. I've said my goodbyes to chocolate and cakes and had my final cup of milky tea. It's my first week, and so I'm raring to go.

Lets see how long it lasts, shall we?

Day One 

My first day on the FODMAP diet and I take a detour through Sainsbury's past the bread and cakes section, just to have a sniff. Only a sniff, mind.
I'm swinging my plastic carrier bag containing my wheat-free, lactose-free, vegetarian packed lunch ready to pop in the fridge once I get to work. It's all pre-prepared, which means no stress and no possibilities of me falling into temptation and wanting what I can't eat.
Each morning, my daily routine getting ready for work is a timed-to-perfection rush. I know I need to speed up the hair dryer if I take too long in the shower, forget the jewellery if I'm indecisive about what to wear, and if there's only five minutes left, I ditch the straighteners because I just have to clean my teeth. However, this morning my list went like this:
  • Shower
  • Dress
  • Teeth

I loved having a packed-lunch. I felt like one of those special few at primary school who got to take a packed lunch to school. Those kids whose Mums spent loads of money on the latest lunch-box fads, like Frubes and Cheesestrings. You know, the cool ones who sit on the packed-lunch table. I always remember peering across my lunch- the suspicious reeking brown stew steaming across my plate, to the wonderful treats being pulled out of those kids' lunch boxes. I'd turn green at the swap of a Marmite sandwich and the exchange of a Club chocolate bar for a Twix. 

Because I'm on this diet, I've got one of those clicky-topped Tupperware boxes with the separate compartments as my lunch box. At 7:00am this morning I was grateful for this simplicity. So I pulled out my wheat-free bread, lactose-free butter and start spreading. Cutting my cheddar cheese into long strips and dolloping Heinz Salad cream all over it, I make the almost perfect sandwich (only not quite because wheat-free bread tends to have loads of holes in, which make for a bit of a mess). This fills up one compartment. Slipping a Babybel and one strawberry Lactose free yogurt in the other two, I'm pressing the lid firmly on and finally ready to go. 

Not bad for my first day, I think positively. Grabbing my keys I glance in the mirror and slightly horrified at the sight of me, I slick a bit of mascara on as a last minute thought. 

My usual walk to work means I pass a big Sainsburys. This morning the smells of wheaty wonder wafting through the air were enough to turn anyone's head. So I go in. Just for a sniff, mind. 

And I come out with Lactose-free milk. Because today is Day One. And I'm being really good. 


To find out a little more about the FODMAP diet and what FODMAPs are, I've found this website helpful.

6 March 2012

100 Word Post: I Spy

She skipped into the crammed carriage, reminding me instantly of a baby deer. She had big brown eyes and loose curls that bounced on her shoulder as she ground to a halt, gripping the handrail to steady herself. She flicked open her book carelessly. Those eyes glanced quickly down before flicking impulsively to him.

He caught her gaze and his eyes widened. Embarrassed suddenly at being caught out, he shuffled his feet on the floor and blushed as if he was being told off.

She smiled.

The busy carriage zoomed out of focus, and then it was only those two.