Archives for April 2015


I am one of those people who can eat pretty much anything. That doesn’t mean I like everything. Corn on the cob is not my thing no matter how often other people urge me to give it a try. I have. It doesn’t do much for me. I am somehow managing to live a full and happy life in spite of it. But there are very few things I do enjoy that cause me any digestive issues, especially if I don’t go completely overboard. As in, I can eat Halloween candy, but I can’t eat all the Halloween candy at one sitting.

My husband, on the other hand, has to be careful about what he eats. Certain foods like dairy and tomato sauce have to be approached with caution. He has tried all sorts of different supplements and dietary solutions, from avoiding whole grains to only eating whole grains to going gluten-free. Some seemed to be helpful, others not so much, but in the end living life without pizza is just too sad so we’re not doing it.

Periodically I take to the internet anyway. Recently I did just that for an upcoming guest post I’m writing for another site when I came across the acronym FODMAP. Which stands for a very long term that I can’t even begin to prounounce. Suffice it to say it’s a group of certain kinds of carbs that nobody really digests all that well. However, some people are more irritated by them than others. Eliminating them seems to have helped many people like my husband who have digestive issues, but for whom testing has not produced any obvious cause.

FODMAP gluten celiac digestive issues IBS wheatApparently these FODMAPs may account for the growing number of cases of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. There is a lot of overlap between high FODMAP foods and foods that contain gluten. For instance, corn, potatoes, rice and quinoa are all low FODMAP foods and gluten-free. This may explain why many people who don’t have celiac disease notice that they feel better when they avoid gluten.

You can read more about FODMAPs here, here and here. Here’s what I found interesting: many of the high-FODMAP foods are foods that my husband avoids already because he has found them to cause tummy troubles. The other thing that is positive is that someone who reacts negatively to these carbs doesn’t necessarily need to eliminate them entirely. They can try eliminating all of them for a couple of weeks and then slowly introduce them back into their diet to see which ones, and in what quantity, they can tolerate. For many people having the occasional slice of pizza is fine. And if you have a flare-up you know what the likely culprits are. This isn’t a life sentence, it’s just information.

After doing all that reading I was excited and emailing my husband a bunch of links. Then I talked his ear off over dinner. Then I told my friend all about FODMAPs. My husband has spent a whole lifetime being poked and prodded and experimenting, though, so he was a lot more circumspect. I think he has just seen so many miracle solutions that were far less than miraculous. I understand that.

Food is a funny thing. Human beings, as omnivores, can choose such a varied diet. And in this day and age when pretty much everything is always available at the grocery store, the variety is even greater. Few of us are eating simply to live, or choosing our diets based on what’s available right now. We eat foods because we like them, because they connect us to each other, because of how they make us feel, because of what they cost. Our meals make personal and political statements. For people like me this means that choosing to be a vegan, or go paleo, or avoid sugar and caffeine, is entirely intellectual. We can make pretty much anything work.

When you have a history of having to be very careful, things are different. I’ve only experienced this second-hand, but I’ve seen it all the same. Comfort, nourishment and choice are all weightier things. Acronyms like FODMAPs start to blend together after a while, and it can all just feel like a lot of work. So I will print out the list and refer to it, but I won’t impose it on my husband the next time he just wants a burger. Or, at least, I will try not to.

Have you heard of FODMAPs? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with these tricky little carbs.

Poem of the Month: Poetry Class

poetryLast month I shared how I have recently returned to poetry. I haven’t slowed down – so far I’ve written more than 50 poems. Many of them are not fit for public consumption, but I have written enough that are and I’d like to share some of them. And so, a new blog series is born, and I will be poem one poem each month. These aren’t my most personal poems, but I do enjoy each of them.

And now, here is this month’s poem, inspired by the poetry class I took last fall. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and it makes me laugh.

Poetry Class

Of the poem
Matters, he informs
The room. Each word chosen
Carefully. Each punctuation mark
A window into the very soul of poetry
Itself. There are no accidents in an effectively
Affective piece of writing. Blood, sweat and tears,
Caution and deliberation, reflection and cleverness are
The currency of poets. Which makes me think I could be a poet          i will eat you!
Maybe. Because if I know about anything, I know this:
Taking myself far too seriously; Believing that it all
matters; Over-thinking commas and semi-
colons (particularly the semi-colons);
Feeling all the feels; Words. I love
Words so deeply I use them
Recklessly, carelessly,
Wantonly. I’m a

Image credit – Steve Johnson on Flickr

Dabbling in Extra-Curricular Activities

I am good at starting things. In fact, I love starting things. I have always been what you would call a joiner. When I’m in class now I’m always the first person to raise my hand. I volunteer. I say yes often.

I am also good at keeping things going. Once I’ve said yes to something, I stick with it. My 24th dating anniversary with my husband is coming up in less than a month. On that fateful day in 1991 when we became a couple I was a few days shy of my 15th birthday. We have never broken up. I would have driven my old Honda Civic for another 15 years if it hadn’t been totalled.

What I am not good at is endings. I hate endings. I rarely quit things, even when I probably should. In my ideal world, everything would more or less stay the same forever. I like predictability. I do not like upheaval. I am willing to trade novelty for security.

fencing 10-year-oldAs a parent my natural inclination would be to pick an activity for each of my kids and have them stick with it. Unfortunately, my children have other ideas. My ten-year-old daughter has tried ballet, Irish dancing, tap dancing, musical theatre, art classes, gymnastics, fencing, soccer and carpentry. She also does swimming, which is non-negotiable, because it’s a necessary life skill. My six-year-old son has tried music, basketball, soccer and baseball. So far, nothing has stuck. They enjoy their activities, but when they’re over they want to try something new.

When I was writing for I had a badminton lesson with Olympian Anna Rice. I also had the opportunity to interview her for an article. She shared how she had started playing badminton as an eight-year-old. My own daughter was eight at the time and of course I started imagining that my Hannah would discover a sport she loved so much it took her to the Olympics. So far, no luck.

On the upside, the fact that my kids are dabblers makes my life easier. They have fun, and we have free time because we’re not driving hither and yon for training sessions and tournaments. Our weekends are our own. I don’t have any fears that they’re missing out on childhood because they’re spending so much time on one particular activity. Balance is good, or so they say.

On the other hand, I would like my children to give everything they try a fair shake. I would also like for them to find something they’re really passionate about. So we don’t let them quit activities they’ve signed up for. I’ve found that sometimes an activity that they despised on lesson three suddenly becomes fun for them on lesson six. Persistence pays off, and even if you’re not destined for soccer or badminton glory, you can still learn a lot by giving them a go.

And so, I vacillate between wanting to give my children the freedom to explore, and wanting them to find something they truly excel at. I struggle with my own desire for them to never, ever quit, and work to identify when to push them to go on and when to cut our losses. I don’t think there is any sure-fire recipe for success. I wish there were, though. Sometimes having to figure things out for myself at every single step of this parenting journey wears a little thin. You know?

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