This morning I had an appointment with a gastroenterologist to address my almost constant gastrointestinal discomfort. In the past I’d been diagnosed with IBS after an inconclusive endoscopy when I was about 10 years old. IBS is such an odd disorder, it seems to be a catch-all for those with stomach pains that aren’t patently caused by something in specific.
The doctor ordered a Celiac panel to make sure I don’t have it (don’t think I do, but I’ve heard that most everyone is slightly sensitive to gluten) and sent me home with a new dietary plan. I don’t have stomach pain just when I eat certain things, but rather ALL THE TIME, no matter what, sometimes even if I don’t eat! Which makes me think it’s not just gluten, or just dairy, or just spicy food, etc. I have sharp pains due to gas and bloating, and I can feel my stomach gurgling around all day sometimes.
A new dietary intervention is called FODMAPs, which has you eliminate (or reduce, at least) a group of carbohydrates and sugars that may be poorly absorbed and cause gas and bloat. FODMAPs is an acronym for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, and Monosaccharides and Polyols.” Essentially, it refers to foods that contain easily fermentable, short-chain sugars that increase fluid delivery into your large bowel, causing pain in certain individuals.*
Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is really no reason to make brownies from a box, full of ingredients that are not only hard to pronounce but also not really food, and cups of processed oils. Processed oils, while cheap, are often hydrogenated, highly refined and full of trans fat. Let’s talk about fats and hydrogenated oils for a minute, because it can get confusing. (I’ll admit, this is as much of a refresher for me as it is for you.) Diets high in trans (and saturated – but this is controversial) fats are linked to chronic diseases, such as heart disease, and saturated fats usually contain lots of cholesterols and often contribute to raising the level of your bad cholesterol. Most saturated fats come from animal and plant sources. So, they’re naturally occurring. All of this is what the American Heart Association and the FDA guidelines will tell you. And it’s true, to an extent. “Everything in moderation, right?”
However, this is not to say that we should be replacing our butter with margarine and eliminate eggs and red meat from our diet. Fats from animal and plant sources provide lots of concentrated energy for our diet and are naturally occurring (as opposed to, say, highly refined vegetable shortening like Crisco). They also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and hormones. Eating rich foods high in fats slows down our nutrient absorption and keeps us feeling fuller, longer. Fats are essential for many bodily processes. So, the theory that there is a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease isn’t necessarily a myth, but it is flawed. Low-fat diets are effective in weight loss but are hard to stick to (causing low energy, difficulty in concentration, and even weight gain!) I’m going to get kind of political on you here (yes, this is supposed to be a post about brownies) so skip right along to the recipe if you like, or keep reading if I’ve piqued your interest…