I'm Colleen Francioli, a certified nutritionist and author with a focus on helping people with IBS, other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) and food intolerances. I once suffered from IBS and have since found life balance with the low-FODMAP diet, an elimination diet developed in Australia, proven to help relieve symptoms of IBS.
Until this past month, I had never been on a cruise and was never really interested. I tend to like to create my own adventures, on my own time, often with a bit of spontaneity. This all changed when my cousin asked if I would go on a cruise to celebrate my Uncle turning 70 years old. I couldn’t pass up such a special occasion and even better, she told me we would be celebrating Disney-style.
It wasn’t until a few years back when this same lovely cousin went on a Disney Cruise Line vacation that I learned Disney actually was a part of the cruise business, and wow are they ever! After sailing with Disney I think it would be hard to sail with any other cruise line. I heard Princess Cruises were pretty legit so I could see myself sailing with them at some point, but I was totally wowed by Disney and here’s why:
Various opportunities throughout the day to see Mickey, Minnie and other characters walking around the boat. Kids (and starry eyed adults) can have their picture taken or get in a little hug or two
If you can’t make it to an allotted time for a meal there’s always food to enjoy somewhere on board
The Disney Fantasy ship I was on was gorgeous with wood trim, beautifully equipped staterooms, and very clean. It’s the length of four football fields and over 200 feet high!
This past month I had the opportunity to take a cruise through the Caribbean
Recently as I was celebrating my birthday on a culinary/bar crawl trip to Mexico with my friends, the low-FODMAP diet came up in conversation, and it went something like this: “Hey Colleen, is this FOOD-MAP or FODMAP? Can I eat this? Can I drink this beer or it FODMAPped?” And as I was discussing different low and high-FODMAP options on our summery-hot day in Tijuana, another friend started talking about unicorn poop. Yes, unicorn poop – brightly colored, swirly, rainbow poop. They then began to share this video with me and it changed my pooping experience forever:
If you are not laughing after this video, well, I guess we don’t share the same sense of humor. This video is hysterical, and the close-up of him licking the unicorn poop off his lips is just…oh it makes me very uncomfortable. You might’ve thought at first that this was just some joke, but Squatty Potty really nailed this – it’s one of the best commercials I’ve ever seen.
It’s the Squatty Potty end of the summer blowout! (Yes pun intended). Now you can get a FREE Porta-Squatty ($20 value) with minimum purchase of $39.00. Click here to get squatting!
Proof is in the Poop
I bet you might be saying: “So what gives with Squatty Potty, does it work?”
After my trip to Mexico and having re-played their video a few times, I called them up and said I had to try one out. I am big on reviews and they were really good (read some hereand here with 4.5 stars and 4,438 customer reviews). Unicorn poop aside, this company is legit and run by the lovely Edwards family in Utah. If you like Shark Tank as much as I do, you can check out how they faired with the sharks here.
The Edwards family has a few medical case studies for your reading pleasure. Like this study in particular, Influence of Body Position on Defecation in Humans, concludes that the greater the hip flexion achieved by squatting, the straighter the rectoanal canal will be, and accordingly, less strain will be required for defecation.
I was sent the ECCO model. Did it work for me? I’ll get very personal and say absolutely. I am more constipation prone (IBS-C) and still have episodes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but since I found the low-FODMAP diet, bouts of IBS are very rare these days. When IBS does hit, it’s more around the time of menstruation and women with IBS may have more symptoms during their menstrual periods (it’s no secret why more ladies then men get IBS). Also, after having a baby in 2015, some things have not been the same (hola to all the mommas – you get it). So a couple weeks ago when constipation was incessant around that lovely “time of the month,” I gave my Squatty Potty a try and experienced a gentler rendezvous on the throne. It’s changed the way I poop and the way I feel. How’s THAT for a testimonial? Hey it’s not easy sharing such personal stuff, but I am happier now and maybe just maybe, you will be too if you give the Squatty Potty a try.
The Squatty Potty ECCO – more info:
The Ecco toilet stool works perfectly for families of any size and is incredibly durable and easy to clean. If you appreciate the simple things in life, then this is your toilet stool. Transform your toilet into an elimination station.
Full disclosure – I reached out to Squatty Potty and they sent me product for free. If you click on a link like this or others in this post that lead you to their site and you make a purchase, I will get a commission. Those commissions are great as they help pay for my blogging expenses and allow me to keep working feverishly to bring you great content about the low-FODMAP diet, IBS and…pooping. Happy pooping!
I am thrilled to share that I will host an upcoming webinar, “Starting the Low-FODMAP Diet? What You Need to Know” on Sept. 8th for the New Hope Network NewHope360!
Paleo, vegan, gluten-free: These food tribes are popular enough that your average person knows what they entail. The low-FODMAP diet is less simple—and less of a permanent lifestyle than its contemporaries.
What foods are safe to eat? Which should be avoided? Who exactly should be giving this diet a try, and how long should they stick to it?
Date: Thursday, September 8, 2016 Time: 11 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. MT / 2 p.m. ET
And as an added bonus …
All Co-op bloggers who register for and attend the webinar will receive a free jar of Classic Almond Butter from Justin’s—one of my fave low-FODMAP treats.
Established in 2004 in the home kitchen of health enthusiast Justin Gold, Justin’s supports an on-the-go lifestyle and strives to make a difference everywhere, basing its values on four fundamental pillars: Nourish, Nurture, Inspire and Educate.
Be sure to specify that you’re a Co-op blogger when you register. New Hope will follow up with you after the event to send some samples your way!
Once you register, you’ll receive the information you need to access the webinar in a separate email. See you there!
What is your story? Do you love food and want to share it with the world? Did someone inspire you to learn how to cook or did you teach yourself? Do you find yourself thinking about creating a new dish or trying the newest restaurant in town? Do food and wine documentaries like A Year in Burgundy or Chef’s Table (incredible series – my favorite) excite you more than the next big flick? Do you find yourself snapping photos of your food in restaurants or at home? Is your Instagram stream full of famous chefs , food magazines and food photographers? When you travel, are you most excited about the food you’ll eat? Do you go to farmers markets or comb little shops and specialty food stores for new foods? Do you appreciate photos that bring out the color and texture of a food? Do you appreciate when a photograph can really tell the story of a dish through the styling techniques and how the photographer was able to make you hungry and wishing you were eating that very dish? Do you want to inspire others to eat deliciously or eat healthfully?
You might be ready for your own food blog.
Yes there are many, many food blogs. Back in 2012, Rebeca of takingthekitchen.com shared that Technorati.com estimated there were 16,588 food blogs in existence – and today? Who knows. That should not discourage you though. Why? Think of ALL your personal experiences with food, all the ingredients that exist in the world, ALL the cuisines, cultures, chefs and non-chefs, taste preferences, and personal stories connected to food. It’s a great big opportunity for you to create a niche subject, and have a very niche blog.
“But hold up – I want to write about gluten-free foods (or fill in other subject), and so many gluten-free blogs exist!”
Yup that’s true, however, your story is probably much different from the other bloggers. Your thoughts, tastes, favorite dishes and style of photography is different. You’ve traveled different places. You were raised and influenced differently. All of your experiences will shape what you can ultimately share on your food blog. That is what makes you unique.
So how do you go about finding inspiration for what to write about?
I’ve got a few tips and ideas to help you get the gears moving in that fascinating brain of yours.
Finding Inspiration for Your Awesome Food Blog
Get out an 8.5 x 11 piece of blank paper. I find writing things down is a better means of finding inspiration rather than typing it somewhere on your phone -but do what works best for you. Answer the questions below:
Write down your full name
If tomorrow was your last day on earth, what would you want to eat?
What was your favorite dish growing up?
Are there any topics about food that really move you? Like food safety, GMO labeling, nutrition, obesity and weight, nutrition and healthy foods for kids, veganism, diet and disease, food allergies, food intolerances, gluten and wheat, the ethical treatment of animals, or any others?
Name a favorite restaurant that you frequent and why.
Describe your best experience at a restaurant – write down the name of restaurant, the food you ate, the way the food tasted, the presentation of the food, the wine you drank (if any), the people you were with, the weather and how that day/night makes you feel now
Who in the cooking or baking world do you look up to and why?
What is your favorite cookbook(s)?
How do you want to inspire people?
What are your best culinary skills – what can you teach others?
Answer these questions and you may just be on your way to your new food blog! I’d love to hear from you so please comment below and share your ideas!
If you’re ready to get started on your own food blog right now, check out BlueHost.com for domains and hosting
Ughhh…being bloated, distended or constipated (pardon my French) sucks! You may be sitting somewhere right now (at work, in your car, about to get on a plane, at dinner, at an event), feeling like you can’t get out of the way from your bloated self (and you wore your slightly tight jeans/pants today with a button that’s pressing into your abdomen *facepalm*)!
The distention and pain is annoying and fills you with anxiety. It’s hard to put on a happy face when you feel so sick and sluggish.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be visible (bloating, distention) or invisible (abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, depression, hopelessness). I wish there was more awareness around IBS so people like you and me could just have friends, family and co-workers that understand. Maybe someday we can all help to grow awareness to a point where IBS is more understood and accepted as something REAL and not interpreted as something in our heads….for now, let’s focus on you.
While the low-FODMAP diet is a great dietary approach to help relieve symptoms of IBS, sometimes we need a little more than diet to help.
When you’re having stressful IBS moments, there might be other things you can do. I’ve listed some recommendations below for products you can try.
Please note that everything I’ve listed below is purely for educational purposes and it is best to discuss most of them (like supplements) with your physician.
*Remember, at the present time there is no cure for IBS, and no magical pill to take care of your symptoms, but there is hope through alternative means.
*Typically when someone is following the low-FODMAP diet, a FODMAP-trained nutritionist will suggest not taking any supplements so as to receive a more accurate indication of possible triggers of IBS. If before or after you have tried the low-FODMAP diet and want to try the products below, all supplements listed appear to be low in FODMAPs due to the ingredients used (no lactose, wheat, or FODMAPs such as fructooligosaccharides).
Several products are available to help with constipation and diarrhea but many are made with FODMAPs or ingredients you may not necessarily need. When in doubt, use products that have the least amount of ingredients and go natural! I personally use psyllium husk to help with constipation and it can also be used to help with diarrhea. It can also help with hemorrhoids and IBD. Dr. Kevin Curran, founder of EthnoHerbalist goes into more detail about the benefits of psyllium husk. Please read his article here. Dr. Curranholds a PhD in molecular biology and currently serves as a professor at the University of San Diego, teaching courses on Cell Biology and Ethnobotany.
Learn more from the University of Maryland Medical Center about other uses, precautions and possible interactions.
Peppermint Enteric-Coated Capsules:
Another natural option to help with symptoms of IBS, I have found peppermint enteric-coated capsulesto be helpful when I feel bloated like a Macy’s Day Parade balloon! On their own, peppermint enteric-coated capsules don’t completely relieve me, but they do help. They may work for you – just remember, we are all different and every gut is different in the way it responds or reacts to supplements, food, stress, the environment and therapy.
Peppermint has been shown to be a calcium channel blocker of muscle. What that means is peppermint has the ability to block calcium shifts within muscle cells, enabling muscles to relax.
As reported in the New York Times Well Blog: “In a report financed by the American College of Gastroenterology and published in the journal BMJ in 2008, scientists conducted an analysis of previous studies comparing peppermint oil with placebo in about 400 patients. Ultimately, they found that only 26 percent of patients treated with peppermint oil — typically administered twice daily in capsule form, for a period of one to three months — continued to show symptoms of I.B.S. after treatment, compared with 65 percent of those who were given placebo. The scientists concluded that the evidence was compelling enough that more studies should be conducted, and that in the interim, ‘current national guidelines for the management of the condition should be updated to include these data.'”
Any organic Peppermint tea may help to ease your gut but another tea I really like is Smooth Move Tea by Traditional Medicinals. This tea has not been tested for FODMAPs,however, it may help when you have constipation. When needed, I drink this tea before bedtime and then drink a glass of tepid water in the morning and usually find relief not too long after – which means that if you have this tea make sure you’re not planning on running out of the house early the next morning or partaking in vigorous exercise – you WILL need a bathroom close by :). I also like to take this tea with me when I travel because traveling often sets off constipation. You can see the ingredients here.
When taken right before a meal, digestive enzymesmay help to break down difficult-to-digest proteins, starches and fats into compounds that make nutrients easier to digest, and they can also decrease the number of colonized microorganisms in the stomach. Digestive enzymes help the stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and small intestine to not have to work as hard. Digestive enzyme production declines with age so people 35 years and older may benefit more from taking them. Your doctor may also suggest hydrochloric acid supplements. Other health issues that may respond well to digestive enzymes are: Crohn’s disease, liver disease, hypochlorhydria, deficiencies in iron, vitamins B12, D and A.
Pancreatic enzymes may bring on some mild relief when taken with meals. They can help digest and break down foods, keeping food particles from wandering too far and deep into the gastrointestinal tract and so the bacteria is essentially starved. Speak with your physician before use.
That’s right. A water bottle. Something very simple yet so effective! I bet most people reading this post do not drink enough water. I carry a large water bottle around with me all day to stay hydrated. When empty, I fill it right back up and continue drinking. Sometimes I add ice and lemon juice.
When my gut is all bent out of shape I reach for chicken broth. It’s warm and soothing, easily digestible, low in calories and fat and rich in a few minerals. I either make my own chicken broth at home (there’s a recipe in my book The Everything® Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook) or I use this brand which is low in FODMAPs based on the ingredients used:
If constipation strikes do you ask yourself: “Have I moved enough today?” Often times we become constipated because we haven’t exercised or moved enough. A simple 15-30 minute walk might do wonders for you. In order to track my activity for the day and to encourage more steps and movement, I use the FitBit Zip Wireless pedometer. I also make sure I’m drinking enough water and eating low-FODMAP sources of fiber.
When sitting back with a heating pad, if you have the opportunity, close your eyes and use that time to meditate. Your mind and the rest of your body may also relax, leaving you feeling much better than anticipated. If meditating solo is not your thing (or you have difficulty silencing your mind as many of us do), connect headphones to your phone and use a self-guided meditation app or check out some free meditations online.
Self-Guided Meditation Apps and Online Meditation:
I love the 4th of July! And if you’re trying out the low-FODMAP diet, you can enjoy the holiday too. Back in 2014 I wrote a post about how to navigate the low-FODMAP diet and enjoy the 4th of July, and I decided to revisit that post and update it. Take a look here: