I'm Anja, a lover of everything food-related and a passionate FODMAP recipe developer. I’m mommy and wife to two gourmets and nothing gives me more joy than when both of them look up from their plate after their first bite of food declaring that it's truly delicious.
MY STORY - a very honest insight into the struggles with IBS
As much as I love food, my relationship with it has never been a carefree one. Very early in my twenties, I started experiencing digestive troubles and I was constantly feeling unwell after having had even the healthiest of meals. After having seen several doctors and specialists I was diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Whereas the SIBO was treated with antibiotics, no doctor was able to help me with the management of the IBS symptoms. I was told that I would simply have to live with it and as the symptoms got better after the antibiotic treatment for SIBO, I accepted the verdict and simply learned to live with it. There were good and bad food days but all in all, I found food had become my frenemy. Sometimes it was my best friend and sometimes it was my worst enemy. There seemed to be no rulebook as to what was causing my symptoms and what was not. The only constant rule was that I turned into a really hangry person when my blood sugar dropped.
A few years later after the birth of our son and the different lifestyle that came with finding myself in the new role of being a mother, a wife, a homemaker, and a businesswoman, my digestive distress became unbearable. I was in constant pain because of an excessively bloated belly. I was exhausted, battled brain fog and experienced massive emotional ups and downs. In January 2018 I was so sick of not getting the answers I needed from a medical point of view that I decided to take things into my own hand. I took the radical step to cut out all animal products, wheat, caffeine and sugar from my diet. After a terrible two weeks of suffering from heavy withdrawal symptoms, I found that the brain fog had lifted, my tiredness lessened, my emotional state stabilized, my acne cleaned up and that I had dropped one dress size due to not being bloated beyond recognition. For the first time in 9 years, I felt there was hope and I had certainty that my issues were food-related.
This is when the search began. I started educating myself on food intolerances and found myself a good gastroenterologist. After having undergone extensive examination and testing it was confirmed that I am suffering from IBS, that the SIBO has returned and that I seem to suffer from fructose malabsorption for a good part of my life. Having finally been given answers felt as if the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulder. I immediately started researching my condition and the FODMAP diet of which I was told would help me learn how to manage the symptoms. However, I soon found myself confronted with more questions than answers. I realized that looking to find answers in European sources did not get me very far and that I had to look at everything else there was out there. Soon, my academic heart rejoiced at reading scientific research originating from Monash university and finding out that there was a whole community of fellow IBS sufferer and FODMAPers out there. I found answers and inspiration on many of the English food blogs written by certified FODMAP specialized dieticians and passionate gut health advocates out there.
As I am on the journey to figuring out a way through the complexities of my own personal digestive health, I cannot imagine life without the FODMAP diet anymore. It’s been life-changing! However, even though I draw inspiration for my daily cooking from the vibrant community of FODMAPers sharing their knowledge on the world wide web, I find that Europe lags behind and that finding reliable information concerning IBS and the FODMAP diet in any other language than English is scarce. There only exists a hand-full of cookbooks or dedicated blogs surrounding IBS in connection with the FODMAP diet. Most information is only accessible via doctors or dieticians. Having casually talked to a lot of people about digestive health I shockingly found that an unhappy gut is very much an accepted state of health in Europe today. Happily, things seem to be changing.
Food is not an enemy....
Throughout my personal journey, I have learned that I only feel myself if my gut is doing well and that feeling good about my gut and about food is all about balance. It’s about how I structure my life, it’s about knowing how food affects me and it’s about where my food comes from or how it has been grown.
I want to spread the word that IBS or any kind of food intolerances or sensitivities are not just something that you have to accept and live with but that there is something you can do about it. Knowing how your digestive system works and knowing how to handle it is key to your wellbeing and to gaining back your quality of life. It’s a never-ending road of learning about yourself and your body. Even though it often feels more of a fuss than anything else I have found that you don’t have to feel restricted in what you eat. There is joy in experiencing just how easy, delicious and life-changing gut- friendly food can be.
Will you embark with me on this journey to finding gut happiness in your life? I hope this blog inspires you and provides resources that will help you take the next step into freedom and to find the happy food place in your life. FoodFrenemyLove was created not only to document my own journey but to show just how much you can fall back in love with your food frenemy. I hope you enjoy looking around.
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I’m beyond excited that you have found your way here and I would love to get to know you! Come and join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for new FODMAP recipes, how-to and shopping guides, product tests and so much more.
Notes: Everybody is different and the FODMAP diet works for me. The information and advice on www.foodfrenemylove.com doesn't replace the services of trained health professionals nor does it substitute medical advice. Speak to your doctor and/or dietician first. They not only help you figure out the root of what is causing your IBS but they will also guide you as you start with an elimination diet first then add certain foods back in to work out what foods, and what amount of certain foods, you can and can't handle.