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Karlijn’s Story

complaint free eating

Hi, I am Karlijn! I am 29 years old, live in the Netherlands and I am the owner of Karlijn’s Kitchen – a recipe blog for people with intolerances. I love good food, but for about 10 years I have not been able to eat a lot of the things I would like to.

Around my twentieth birthday I kept having stomach problems. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with lactose intolerance. I changed my diet and went on a low lactose diet. Unfortunately, that didn’t make all my symptoms disappear. In 2012 I went to study abroad for a year, in Istanbul, and there I ate all kinds of things I normally didn’t eat which were also a bit unhealthy. During that period my symptoms only got worse.

When I returned home I had several tests done and was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I was sent away with the following advice: “there is not much you can do about IBS, but try to eat lots of fibre and enough fruits and vegetables.”

In 2014, I came across the FODMAP diet. This sounded like the solution to my symptoms. I started following the diet and my symptoms lessened immediately. Now, 7 years later, I am still not completely free of symptoms. The reason for this is that I followed the FODMAP diet TOO strictly for TOO long which is not how the diet should be followed. I couldn’t control my symptoms and I stayed too long in the elimination phase of the diet.

Due to this, I am still working on making my gut stronger and healthier step by step. I do this by focusing on eating enough fibre from different types of products (fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, etc) and ensuring enough variety in my diet. In this way, I hope to slowly reduce my symptoms further. My symptoms are already much less than before I started the FODMAP diet. I know what my main triggers are a lot better now, which means I am therefore able to avoid them as much as possible.

Eating out and whilst away on holiday is a lot harder with this kind of intolerance and avoiding symptoms at these times can also be difficult. But the supplements from Intoleran help me a lot with that.

When I was eating low lactose for a few years, I came across the supplements from Intoleran (then named ‘Disolut’). I had tried some lactase tablets from other brands, but they didn’t help me very well. In retrospect, that was because I was using lactase tablets that were not strong enough.

Intoleran had supplements in high doses and they did work! I was overjoyed that I could eat an ice cream again or drink a cappuccino without having to buy expensive lactose-free products. I was even happier when Intoleran started offering supplements for different FODMAPs. After all, I also don’t tolerate fructose at all well, as well as fructans and galactans.

Fructose causes me to be very tired, to have a very bloated stomach and to sit on the toilet for hours at a time. It has happened a few times that I accidentally ate something in a restaurant that contained fructose and I suffered for days. Now, if I’m not 100% sure there’s no fructose in a dish at a restaurant, I just take an Intoleran supplement and then I’m not bothered by anything. That gives so much peace of mind!

When I’m at home I try to avoid the FODMAPs I don’t tolerate well and lactose as much as possible or use lactose-free products. But away from home I find the supplements from Intoleran to be real lifesavers.

I always take a supply of fibractase, fructase and lactase supplements (for lactose) with me when I go out to dinner or whilst away on holiday. I still try to make my meals as low FODMAP as possible, but it is nice to be able to take a pill just to be sure. Very occasionally, I also use them to just enjoy a product that I could never normally eat, such as a spread with a little garlic in it, a fresh croissant or a delicious sandwich.

For a few years now, I have also been using once-a-day capsules regularly for longer periods of time. For example, during the holiday season, I take a daily once-a-day capsule and then I don’t have to think about lactose all day. That’s great! When you have a lot of FODMAPs to think about at once, it’s super helpful if you can forget about one of those groups for a while. That’s where these supplements really help me.

tips for living with a food intolerance

To close this blog, I’d like to share with you my best tips for living with an intolerance. After 10 years of living with intolerances, I do have a few things I wish I had known sooner. 

Are you going to follow the low FODMAP diet? If so, make sure you get guidance from a good FODMAP-specialized dietitian. You want to avoid getting stuck in the elimination phase of the diet for too long and eating very restricted foods for too long. A good dietitian can help with this.

Tell people around you about your symptoms. Explain clearly to your friends and family what you are intolerant to and what that means. I have always been very open about my diet and now I notice that I get a lot of understanding and support from those around me. My friends and family are always willing to think with me and even make low FODMAP meals for me when I visit. That is so valuable!

Use supplements for dinner out and whilst on holiday. Intoleran supplements are great to make eating out and going on holiday just a little more relaxing. Try them out at home first, so you know how many supplements you need. Then you won’t have any surprises whilst you are away.

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