My annual toilet rant

I have to say I find the price of toilets rather expensive and unlike last year when I travelled to London, this year I am going to blog about the problem. My bladder is partly at fault here, because it does not feel the need to empty whilst I am on the train but as soon as I arrive at any railway station I have to go, and usually quickly.


Toilets are a problem for many people with bowel disorders, or lack of them to be precise, many people feel anxious at going out because they need to know where the toilet is, as they can need to go with some urgency. This can increase feelings of anxiety increasing symptoms, making the problem worse. I have recently written an article on IBD and quality of life and the survey (The IMPACT study) I used for the article contests to this very fact in people with this condition. The UK part of the survey revealed that during a flare 97% of IBD sufferers needed to open their bowels urgently, this only dropped to 70% between flares – this therefore represents the majority of responders. Episodes of diarrhoea were 5-10 times per day for 38% during a flare, this level remained at 11% during remission, and this clearly has a major impact on an individual’s ability to travel, work and to function day-to-day. Perhaps not surprisingly this affected the unemployed to a greater extent. One of the primary reasons for work absence is frequency of needing the toilet (38%) and anxiety due to the risks of incontinence (33%).


The British Toilet Association says that the provision of public toilets is a vital service for those people with medical conditions. They campaign for ‘provision of clean, hygienic and safe publicly accessible toilets that are available where and when needed, for all types of users. They request an end to public toilet closures and authorities acceptance that access to safe, discrete toilet facilities are a basic human need. The IBD quality of life study also highlights the need for accessible facilities, unavailability of toilet facilities can increase a persons’ anxiety at going out, which can make symptoms worse. 26% of people with IBD have found they have had to be rude with staff in public areas, whom often do not appreciate the person with IBD’s needs, and have refused to allow people access to staff toilet facilities.


This can lead to an individual being housebound by their symptoms, reducing access to society, friends and family. 81% of people with IBD reported that they are anxious about toilet facilities when travelling somewhere new. Perhaps surprisingly, the Impact survey found that the level of concern about toilet access increased with increasing age, clearly these worries are a very personal and significant problem for people with IBD. I suspect that the same is likely true for people with IBS and other bowel conditions. I do feel that it is the responsibility of the station operators to keep these prices in proportion, particularly when we are having to experience price hikes in other areas and many people who rely on government aid to live, especially those with bowel conditions, whose anxiety at trying to make ends meet can have a direct impact on the symptoms they experience. So come on guys please consider your toilet prices – available toilet facilities are a basic human need, not an excuse for making money.

Can’t wait cards can be purchased from

Radar key for disabled toilet facilities and guides are available from

Read Peter’s blog on toilets and IBD here

The impact study can be downloaded from

Off to London again!

I am planning another trip to London tomorrow, this time to Imperial college London for a course on allergic gastrointestinal disease. I am looking forward to the lecture on eosinophilic oesophagitis and gastroesophageal reflux and other upper GI motility disorders.

IMG_1523modThis is the course, I was very lucky to have been sponsored by Allergy UK to attend the training.

I will blog about my trip and let you know how I get on.

Dippy over Hummus – oh *sigh* to find a Low FODMAP alternative

IMG_1616Since I have being doing the Low FODMAP diet I have been missing hummus and I was seeking out an alternative when I came across this recipe by a fellow blogger Frugal Feeding here

It’s definitely worth a look, however I decided to try to de-FODMAP it somewhat so it could be used by those people who want to follow a low FODMAP diet.


600g bag of carrot batons

1 tablespoon of garlic infused olive oil

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon of chilli power (optional)

1 teaspoon of fennel seeds

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Sprinkling of asafoetida*

300ml of water

Salt + pepper


Add the carrots to a baking tray and sprinkle with olive oil, crushed cumin seeds, chilli, aesofotida and fennel seeds and roast in a hot oven till soft.

Remove from the oven and add the juice of 1/2 lemon, salt + pepper and water and blend till amalgamated.

Serves 2-3

With much thanks to frugal feeding!

Suitable for low FODMAP, lactose & fructose intolerance (count in your fruit intake – lemon  juice – if you have a large portion,) gluten free(*check for gluten!) and vegan diets.

Updated post 22.11.14

Rose popcorn Low Fodmap

A subtle hint of rose and vanilla in freshly warm popcorn – fills the kitchen with delicious smells. Please note due to updates for the Low FODMAP diet January 2013 popcorn should be consumed with caution as high levels of consumption will result in higher amounts of fodmaps. A portion should be a small cereal bowl full at any one sitting.


120g popping corn

1 tsp oil such as corn, rapeseed or

1 cap full of vanilla essence

1 teaspoon of rose flavoured syrup (check for fructose corn syrup)

½ teaspoon of food colouring if desired

2 tsps of powdered artificial sweetener (check for FODMAPs)


Mix vanilla essence, rose syrup and food colouring in a dish.

Put oil and popcorn into a pan with a lid and heat over a high heat on the hob.

When the corn starts to pop carefully add the vanilla mix by lifting the lid carefully and pouring it in quickly, shake well with the lid on. Continue to heat till all the corn has popped.

Lift the lid and sprinkle over the sweetener, replace the lid and shake well till all the corn is coated.


Saturday – Chicken Curry Low FODMAP

Last night I cooked a chicken curry here is the recipe.


6 skinless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon of garlic infused olive oil

1 aubergine

2 large tomatoes

3 teaspoons of cornflour

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of coriander seeds

4 split cardamom pods

1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida

1 teaspoon of chilli powder (Omit this if it makes your symptoms worse)

1/2 yellow pepper

1 Green pepper

200 mls of water or home-made chicken stock (without garlic and onion)

Salt & pepper to taste


Cut up the aubergine into small pieces, also cut the tomato

Add oil to pan and heat

Add spices to the pan and cook for a minute to release the aroma

Add chicken

cook for 5 minutes

Then add stock and the aubergine and the tomato, add cornflour (mix with a small amount of water to blend first and make a smooth paste)

cook for 20 minutes. (10 minutes in start to make rice – see below)

Add chopped pepper and cook for 5 -10 minutes.

Rice – 300g basmati rice (2 cups) place in a pan and cover with water 2cm above the rice, add salt to taste then add 4 cloves, a 2cm piece of cassia bark, 4-5 black peppercorns and 2-3 green cardamom pods, curry leaf. Bring to the boil for 15-20 minutes remove spices prior to serving. This tastes a little like pilau rice – add colouring to make this more authentic if you wish.

Serves 4

Beans, beans are good for your heart…………fill in the rest!

You may have heard the following rhyme,

Beans, beans are good for your heart – well so far this is true they are full of soluble fibre, soluble fibre reduces cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of blood clots preventing heart attacks and strokes.

The more you eat the more you f****, again some real truth here.

The more you f*** the better you feel, well no actually, beans and pulses are known for causing intestinal gas and this can cause havoc with people who have IBS, increasing the level of pain felt and generally making life really miserable. Beans and lentils (pulses) contain a type of carbohydrate called raffinose, this is indigestible by everyone, but with people who have IBS the bloating that results stretches the bowel wall and causes pain. I don’t really need to explain f*** do I? I’m much too polite, I’m afraid.

So let’s have beans for every meal – erm, again possibly not, if you are prone to bloating and pain after eating them.


You should only exclude foods that are actually causing problems, variety in your diet is very important. Good sources of protein for vegetarians are quinoa and quorn and iron can be found in dark green leafy vegetables – ensure you have a SMALL glass of fresh orange to aid the absorption into your body, only if you are not intolerant of fructose. Ask to see a dietitian if you require more personal dietary advice here.

Is there anything I can do to make this food a little more tolerable?

Well possibly.

When buying dried pulses (lentils and beans) please ensure you use them up quickly – leaving them in your cupboard for more than a year really doesn’t help, the longer they are stored the tougher they become. They then require more soaking and boiling to make them more digestible. Ensure the surface is without shriveled skin and the colour is bright. Store your dried beans in a sealed container in a cool dark place.

Soaking is then required, don’t add anything to the beans but water and change this a few times during the soaking process, if you can. Don’t be tempted to add salt or sodium bicarbonate to the beans, salt will inhibit the soaking process. You will need to soak the beans at least eight hours or preferably overnight and rinse the beans after soaking prior to cooking.

Cooking times vary depending on the age and water hardness, again before adding the beans to another dish don’t be tempted to use the water for stock as this does contain more raffinose. See the link at the bottom of the page for a useful information leaflet from Pulse Canada on cooking times for beans. Don’t add acidic foods to the beans whilst cooking such as tomato, vinegar or lemon juice as this makes the cooking process longer.

Tinned beans need to be rinsed before use, again don’t be tempted to use the liquor to add to other dishes – the beans have been cooked in the tin and not given the same treatment. Some of the cheaper tinned versions can be a little tough, necessitating longer cooking time to avoid excessive wind – buying cheaper versions may be false economy if you need to cook them for longer!

A word of warning about kidney beans, cannellini beans and broad beans, they all contain phytohaemagglutanin a protein that if consumed in large amounts is a toxin, it is found in large amounts in kidney beans. It is denatured by correct cooking. Tinned kidney beans are better to avoid the risks, but do rinse them well before using them!

Some information was found about adding a piece of seaweed (Kombu) to the beans during cooking to aid with reducing raffinose content of beans, lots of un-referenced information on the web. Kombu was suggested to contain alpha galactosidase an enzyme that digests raffinose. I have, despite a good hunt on the internet and research sites, been unable to find the source of this information, so I am actually unsure if this does work – any help here from food technologists would be gratefully received! Please reply!

Make your own baked beans!!

Gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian.

500g dried haricot beans

20 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 medium potatoes

400 ml passata

salt (not too much!)

Soak the beans for at least 16 hours with water, change water at least four times.

Peel potatoes and boil till soft, mash.

Cook the beans for 30-40 minutes or until soft in fresh water, then drain.

Add the potato to the beans and the passata, fresh chopped thyme and a small amount of salt. Cook for ten minutes – eat & enjoy!

See link for lots of useful info on pulses!