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In a recent post, I talked about Irritable Bowel Syndrome because my hormones had gone so whacko that I was experiencing a particular bad period of I.B.S. which sent me in a whirlwind of research on the topic because I just wanted to stop hurting. (I’m doing much better now, thank you.)

Just prior to that, I’d learned about fructose malabsorption when I went to research why eating mangos made me bloated and why eating apples made me nauseous. Turns out, fructose malabsorption ties in with I.B.S., though researchers haven’t been able to figure out which causes which.

But I’m a raw food vegan!

A lot of people, however reluctantly, could easily drop fruit out of their diet if they had to. They could just get all their carbs from grains and tubers.

The thing is, whole grains cause me bloating and gas (and the effect occurs sooner and goes on longer than what I experience after eating fruit), and eating white rice or tubers make my stomach feel, for lack of a better word, goopy. Not horrible or painful, but…goopy.

Up until a couple of years ago (or maybe it’s just been in the past year), I could eat two servings of fruit in the space of fifteen minutes, no problem. It didn’t give me the digestive distress that cooked foods do. The exception was during P.M.S. times when I might feel bloated or nauseated after eating that much fruit.

This, more than anything, is why my diet is mostly raw – because fruit has been the most comfortable form of carbohydrate for me to digest.

Along came Eat Anything RX

In my post about I.B.S., I wrote about my discovery of the Eat Anything RX supplement, which provides an enzyme, xylose isomerase, which helps break down fructose into glucose, which absorbs much more easily into the gut than fructose does.

Long story short, the supplement works for me.  Probably the best thing has been the end of having to run to the bathroom more than three times a day! (The fructose malabsorption had been causing me daily mild diarrhea along with gas and bloating.)

The thing is, this is not an inexpensive supplement. Given the amount of fruit in my diet, I was approaching $100 per month just to take that supplement (I was needing five pills every day)! On top of that, I quickly got tired of having to remember to take it, and was quite frustrated that I’d become dependent on a little white pill in order to eat my favorite food, a food that up until recently had also been the favorite of my digestive system – not to mention that it’s healthy!

I was grateful, BUT…

I rebelled against the idea of having to depend on the supplement every single day for the rest of my life. And something inside me told me that there was another way.

A couple of weeks after starting to use the supplement, I forgot to take it before my morning smoothie. I realized it about forty-five minutes after finishing my smoothie, and decided to wait and see what was going to happen.

An hour after finishing the smoothie, the painful gas began.

An hour later. Many days, the gas and bloating would begin before I even finished my smoothie.

I muscle-tested whether the Eat Anything RX would work if I took it at that time, because you’re supposed to take it a few minutes before eating. My body told me that yes, it would work.

So I took one of them. Just one. Ten minutes later, the gas had subsided and I didn’t have any diarrhea later that day, or the next.

Malabsorption, or simply slower absorption?

That got me thinking. That day, the fruit didn’t start to bother me until it had been in my system for an hour. And then, I only took one to get rid of the gas, whereas I’d been needing to take two before consuming a two-cup smoothie, equating close to two servings of fruit downed in a fifteen-minute period.

So, some days, it would seem, my body was able to absorb more fructose at a time. Hmmm.

Then I remembered something I’d read about fructose malabsorption, that it wasn’t that the body can’t absorb it at all, but that – depending on the individual – it can only absorb one to twenty-four grams of fructose at a sitting, as opposed to the twenty-five to fifty grams of fructose most people’s bodies can absorb in one sitting.

Okay, so what if I spread out my consumption of two pieces of fruit over a half hour period? I asked my body the question, and the answer was that I’d only need one of the supplements, instead of two.

HMMMM!

I muscled-tested whether I’d need a supplement if I spread the fruit consumption over the space of an hour.

Can you guess what the answer is? I’ll give you a hint: it had me jumping up and down with joy and in excitement. It instantly put an extra $100 a month into our bank account.

That’s right: my body answered, “No.”

What that means is that my gut is not completely unable to absorb fructose without the help of a special enzyme. It means that my gut, probably thanks to my estrogen levels continuing to plummet as I approach menopause, has slowed down its ability to absorb fructose. So if I eat at a pace in line with the capacity of my hormone-ravaged small intestine, it will absorb all the fructose I give it, no problem.

My experience thus far

Three days ago, I put the Eat Anything RX supplement into the cooler with the other supplement, and haven’t touched it since. I’ve had to change my morning routine some, but I haven’t had any excess bloating or gas, or diarrhea, during the past couple of days.

If you suspect or know that you’re suffering from fructose malabsorption, and you don’t want to give up fruit, you might want to try replicating my experiment. No, you won’t be able to be a fruitarian or a practitioner of the 80-10-10 diet. But it could be, that if you have the time and willingness to spread out your fruit consumption, you can continue to eat five or more servings of fruit per day.

What worked for me may not work for you. But in my raw vegan opinion, it’s worth a shot.

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The Four Keys To Super-Early Retirement

Most people would love to learn how to retire early. I mean, early, as in, well before the age of fifty. But they think it’s impossible, that to achieve such a goal they’d have to win the lottery or make a mid- to high-six-figure income (or more) every year.

Well, my husband and I retired in our early forties while making an average income. I describe all the steps to do it, as well as share our story, in my book, Hatching The Next Egg.

In this article, I am going to boil the contents of the book down to the four most important things you need to know in order to learn how to retire early.

Key #1: Debt is a no-no.

One of the most frustrating events in my life was when, less than a decade ago, a young man with little life experience became a bestselling author with a book that instructed people to build wealth by accruing credit card debt.

Uh…no.

No.

No.

NO.

I don’t care what kind of car you drive, how big your house is, or how many of the latest gadgets you have in your possession. If you’ve bought the stuff on credit, you are one of the poorest people in the world. Why?

YOU DON’T OWN ANY OF IT!

Now, sometimes using a credit card can actually help you live less frugally. For example, certain department stores will take a huge chunk out of your bill at the checkout counter if you put it on a store credit card. If you travel a lot, certain credit cards give you points toward free miles with certain airlines for every purchase you put on the card.

I will reluctantly concede that using credit cards to save money is acceptable…as long as you pay off the credit card bill in full every single month the very day it arrives in the mail.

If you want to retire early, and know you can’t or won’t do that, stay away from credit cards!

Also, only buy the kind of car you can afford to pay with cash, avoid student loan debt like the plague, and be extremely frugal when it comes to buying a house. Whatever debts  you have now, you need to ruthlessly plug away at paying them off. 

Key #2: The more money you have left at the end of every month, the sooner you can reach early retirement.

Obviously, if you want to retire early, you have to be able to save up a substantial nest egg within the next ten to twenty years. And you can’t do that if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. You can’t do that if you’ve only got 100 dollars left at the end of every month.

Let’s say you want to retire in the next fifteen years. If you invest into a portfolio that will give you an annual average increase of eight percent, and you think you can retire on $700,000, you’ll need to invest $2,000 every month of those fifteen years to get there.

What if you want a million dollars at the end of fifteen years? Then you’ll need to invest $3,000 every month.

Of course, if you can be patient and wait an extra five years, then you don’t have to invest as much every month. For example, investing $2,000 per month at an eight percent annual increase will turn into $1,186,150.11 after twenty years.

There are only two ways to have more money at the end of the month than you do now: increase your income, or decrease your spending.

Key #3: The most popular way to invest will interfere with your early retirement goal.

I agree with Dave Ramsey about a lot of things. But one major area where the two of us part ways is how to invest.

Mutual funds, the way that most people invest – and the way that Ramsey recommends – are a safer investment than purchasing individual stocks. However, they are not stable. Why? Because they are all stock market investments.

Ditto for total stock market funds, although those are a bit safer because they encompass a much wider variety of companies than any individual mutual fund.

If you want to learn how to retire early, read up on the Ivy Portfolio and the Permanent Portfolio. During the crash of 2008, people who had all their retirement in mutual funds lost almost a third of their investments. And never quite gained it all back.

People who had their money invested either the Ivy Portfolio way or the Permanent Portfolio lost less than five percent. Of course, they regained their pre-crash values within a few months, and then started building again, while the mutual fund values were still slowly climbing back up out of the hole.

I explain both the Ivy and Permanent Portfolios in my personal finance book. Click here for an article about the Ivy Portfolio; click here for one on the Permanent Portfolio. Better yet, purchase each book that describes in great detail how to properly invest in and handle the respective portfolios.

Key #4: Being a miser will make you miserable.

“It is better to give than to receive.”

“Give, and it shall be given onto you, good measure, pressed down, and running over…”

“Whatever you sow, that shall you also reap.”

Yes, after telling you to save money and invest it wisely, I am telling you to be a giver.

This may sound contradictory. How can you give away money and still expect to retire early?

But the truth is, a miserly heart is a miserable heart. If you spend the next ten to twenty years counting every penny and living like Ebenezer Scrooge…well, you remember what the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come revealed to Scrooge, right? (If you haven’t read Charles Dickens’ classic short story, “The Christmas Carol”, you can probably find it for free online. Find it, and read it. It may change your life.)

I’m not talking about throwing away ten percent of your income because of a horrible misinterpretation of the Bible based on the greed of religion. I’m talking about having an open heart and open wallet when you encounter people with real needs. I include bonafide charities here, too.

Being able to help others financially brings a satisfaction that doesn’t compare to watching your nest egg grow. It also makes you a more compassionate and empathetic human being. More loving. And the more love you put out, the more you’ll get back into your life. The more good things will come your way.

You might choose to set aside a certain amount every month to give to someone. Or, you might just keep your eyes and ears open and give a large amount once or twice a year to an individual, family, or organization that you feel strongly about helping.

Whichever way you choose, do be a giver as well as a saver and investor.

I’ve done my part. I’ve told you how to retire early. Now the ball is in your court. I would suggest going after it, taking careful aim, and hitting it as hard as you can.

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Reaching the point of financial independence in your life is a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with being part of the F.I.R.E. (financially independent, retire early) movement. Assuming, that is, you’re doing it right.

My husband and I actually accidentally became part of that movement several years ago, before we knew it existed. I saw my husband was miserable at his job (I’d already quit mine to be a stay-at-home mom for our son), and after reading several books about personal finance and self-employment, I persuaded him to look at our finances and reconsider our future.

He looked, and reconsidered.

Decided – oh, miracle of miracles! – that he agreed with me. And so we got busy.

Reaching for super-early retirement brings with it a lot of benefits. I can tell you from experience. Here are a few of those benefits:

  • You learn to manage your money wisely.
  • If you’re naturally frugal, you learn to be even more frugal.
  • You develop a knowledge base about the financial world that exceeds that of most people.
  • Your math skills get better.
  • And, of course, once you attain financial independence, you can do whatever you like with your time within the constraints of your nest egg. You no longer have to work forty-plus hours per week at a job you dislike.

And, right there is the problem.

And there we hit the big snag when it comes to retiring early: people tend to focus on the money.

I know my husband and I did. For several years, I obsessed over the monthly budget. We plummeted into despair in 2008 when our mutual fund values lost a third of their value (I didn’t know about safer ways to invest for probably another three years; the video below shares about that way).

This kind of obsession happens to a lot of people working to become financially independent at a much younger age than the typical retirement age of sixty or so. Reaching that golden number, that amount they know they need in order to be able to pull the equivalent of a thriving income out of it every year for the rest of their lives, becomes the ultimate goal.

The love of money…

You’ve probably heard the Bible verse, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” People seeking early financial independence aren’t necessarily loving money. But making it the ultimate goal will lead to, if not evil, then to emptiness.

Why?

Because they haven’t figured out how to spend the rest of their lives once they no longer need to work at a job or a business.

And so, we reach…

The right and healthy ultimate goal

The ultimate goal of any human being should be to live a fulfilling life. This may sound selfish. It’s not. Anyone who thinks that seeking fulfillment is selfish has confused it with happiness.

Feeling happy and feeling fulfilled are two completely different things. With that straightened out, how do you find fulfillment?

#1. You extend love toward those around you.

#2. You live out your calling.

I’ve talked about finding your purpose in this post, and figuring out your calling in this post. To recap, everyone’s purpose is to create with the goal of being a blessing to other people. A person’s calling is living out that purpose using the talents, skills, and interests they have in a way that fits their specific circumstances in life.

If you’re living out your calling, you’re going to be living a fulfilled life…regardless of your financial situation. Indeed, if you know that you’re living out your calling when you work at your job or in your business, and you look forward to that work every day, it’s a perfectly viable choice not to try to build up a nest egg by middle age. You can simply plan to work for as long as you can.

A backfiring you don’t want to experience

If you make financial independence your ultimate goal, what happens the day you achieve it?

You’re done.

DONE!

You’ve achieved the ultimate in life. You have nothing more worth doing, nothing to look forward to.

How depressing is that?

Even if you don’t tend to get depressed, I can guarantee you that you’ll get bored. Really bored.

Do you need to refocus?

If  you’re reading this post, I assume you’re already part of F.I.R.E. movement, or are thinking about making the plunge into it. So let me ask you this question: do you need to refocus?

If you have no idea what your life is going to look like once you reach your golden number, the answer will be a big, fat YES.

Because if reaching that number is your ultimate goal, you’re going spend the rest of your life in misery.

And that defeats the purpose of gaining financial freedom and time freedom.

Click the book image before if you would like to learn how to achieve super-early retirement…just remember to seek fulfillment before money!

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My Crabby Digestive System

“I hate my digestive system!”

These words rang out with regularity in my one-bedroom apartment when I was in my twenties. Okay, they didn’t really “ring out.” I thought them more than anything. But I was often frustrated with feeling so bad after eating.

I became even more frustrated when I went on a healthy eating kick, and it didn’t get much better. Learning to properly combine my food eliminated the constant digestive discomfort, but I still experienced it ten days (for at least two eating periods each day) out of every thirty.

In my thirties, I learned that the bloating and pain were at their worst during certain times of the month. In fact, some months those were the only times I felt miserable. I concluded that hormonal activity was somehow making my system more sensitive.

At age forty, eating any fruit other than bananas started making me nauseated. I remedied this somewhat with digestive enzymes, but lately, almost ten years later, my reaction to almost any food I could eat has been uncomfortable at the least, often inconvenient when the reaction happened lower down, and sometimes downright painful.

I’ve known for some time that I have a super-sensitive digestive system. I also learned a couple of years ago that hitting perimenopause can make this worse for women. Or, women who never had trouble eating anything can all of a sudden be hit with it.

Either way, my findings verified my theory that the issue could be related to hormones. The medical community calls it “Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” IBS for short because our society has become too lazy and too busy to speak in full words, to the extent that kids today have to ask their parents what KFC and DQ stand for. (By the way, if you have IBS, eating at either of those two places is not recommended. 😉 )

Because my super-sensitive digestive system has become super super-sensitive during the past few months, I’ve made some interesting discoveries. I’m going to share them before you even ask.

You’re welcome.

Discovery #1

IBS is a bunch of BS. What I mean is, the medical community has labeled as a “syndrome” making it sound like you’re sick if you have it.

You’re not. I’m not. Just as people with ADHD don’t have a disorder, people who experience the symptoms referred to as IBS are not unhealthy.

Our guts are simply more sensitive to the digestive process. They feel the gas more intensely. Or maybe even, produce more gas.

Don’t get me wrong. IBS can become a problem if you ignore it and do nothing to alleviate the symptoms. If it gives you diarrhea, for example, you can get dehydrated or deficient in nutrients. If eating gluten makes your stomach hurt, you’re going to have a hard time focusing on work after you have a sandwich for lunch on the job.

Here’s another thing about IBS not being a medical problem: six times more women are diagnosed with it than men. A huge reason is that our ovaries and uterus are tucked in right amidst our gut and colon. Can you say, “Conflict of interest?”

I’ve decided to rename Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I’m calling it “FDS”, for “Female Digestive Sensitivity.” If you’re a guy with digestive issues that result simply from being a Highly Sensitive Person, call it “MDS.”

Discovery #2

You don’t have to experience symptoms every day to have it. As I mentioned above, my whacked-out hormones somehow make my sensitive gut even more sensitive than usual. Some days, I can get away with eating broccoli. Other days, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night feeling like it’s turned into a rock in my stomach.

Discover #3

Increasing fiber is TERRIBLE advice for people with IBS, especially those with the diarrhea kind. But for any kind, the harsh fiber found in vegetables is sometimes – or often – painful to allow to go through the gut except in small quantities.

Discovery #4

I can still be a vegan! When I started reading up on the carbohydrates and foods that are problematic for people with IBS, I said, good grief, can I no longer be vegan? But after thinking about it for a while I realized that if I eliminated the cabbage family veggies from my diet and dialed back on the sweeter/softer greens and sprouted mung beans, I could still get plenty of healthy food in my diet without going back to eating meat.

Because of…

Discovery #5

Xylose isomerase! Because of the IBS, I also have fructose malabsorption. People who don’t have it can absorb twenty-five to fifty grams of fructose in one sitting. People who do have it may only be able to absorb ONE gram of fructose in one sitting! And not more than twenty-four grams. Bye-bye, fruit-based diets!

The exception is if the food you’re eating contains more glucose, because the fructose will stick to the glucose and get absorbed along with it. Glucose is the form of sugar that the body needs, so it is always all automatically absorbed in the small intestine.

Bananas have twice as much glucose as fructose, which is one reason many people with fructose malabsorption don’t feel badly after eating a banana or two.

But other fruits high in fructose, such as mangoes, pears, apples?

Ouch, ouch, burp, feel like puking.

Then there are the fruits containing sorbitol, namely the stone fruits such as peaches. The sorbitol may not be well-absorbed, either.

The result of fructose malabsorption? The offending sugars pass into the colon, pulling water along with them and being happily consumed by the bacteria in your colon. The by-product of the bacterial waste produces gas, and the extra water causes diarrhea.

I’ve been experiencing all this lately for many of my fruit smoothies and fruit snacks. For a despairing few hours I thought I was going to have to give up all fruits except bananas and berries.

But a blessed article on fructose malabsorption told me about xylose isomerase. This is an enzyme which converts fructose into glucose as it’s passing down through your system.

So I went to Amazon and put in the search box, “xylose isomerase,” and found the Eat Anything RX supplement. Long story short, it works, and I can eat whatever fruit I want again.

And add another $43 a month to our food bill. This supplement is NOT cheap. *SIGH*.

Discovery #6

I’m not destroying my intestines.

The gut pain that sensitive people often experience is not indicative of food creating tiny tears in the lining of your gut – though is sure sometimes feels like it! It’s the sensitive nerves in the gut complaining about the pressure from the gas.

Discovery #7

Except for fructose, a low FODMAP diet doesn’t matter one whit to me. When my digestive system decides to go whacko, I’m going to be miserable anywhere between several hours to several days, no matter what I eat – or don’t eat.

Hold on. I’ve lost some of you on the FODMAP thing. Those letters stand for the elements or characteristics of food that cause people with IBS – I mean, FDS – the most trouble. Not all of them are a problem for everyone with a sensitive digestive system, but at least some of them cause trouble on a regular basis.

The letters stand for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.

Foods high in oligosaccharides (the compounds fructans – not to be confused with fructose – and galactans) include chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, asparagus, cabbage, onions, wheat, rye, and watermelon. Foods containing disaccharides include table sugar, beetroot, and non-fermented dairy products; and those containing monosaccharides include anything containing fructose, glucose, or galactose.

The polyols are those sugars ending in “ol”: xylitol, sorbitol (found in the stone fruits such as peaches), and malitol.

Experts recommend going on a low FODMAP diet for a few days to a couple of weeks, then reintroducing the different types of FODMAP foods, one at a time, to see which ones cause you a problem.

For me? FODMAPs don’t matter. Any kind of food causes me pain or discomfort when my digestive system goes haywire. Or rather, when my hormones go haywire. Even the eternally benign white rice.

My accidental weight loss plan

And now you know how I’ve managed to stay so thin my entire adulthood, even as I creep closer to the half-century mark when most women have gained a noticeable amount of weight for no apparent reason.

Say, now, I think I’ve discovered the perfect weight-loss plan. Develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I mean, Female Digestive Sensitivity 😉 .

First steps to a happier digestive system

#1. Learn to properly combine your food. Don’t consume meats and starches with the same meal, eat fruit a half hour before or at least an hour after consuming anything else. Don’t eat dairy products with anything except vegetables. A little bit of cheese with fruit might be okay.

If you begin to properly combine your food, you might find that your IBS magically disappears.

#2. Reduce the overall stress in your life, and don’t eat when you’re angry, afraid, or sad to the extent that adrenaline is racing through you.

#3. Ladies, take a magnesium supplement (chelated or angstrom) and/or use Progestelle (find it on Amazon). I use both products. Both help to keep your hormones better balance, which will reduce your overall P.M.S. and perimenopausal symptoms, including the digestive ick.

#4. Experiment and find out what works for you.

#5. If you love fruit, but eating it is causing you trouble, try the Eat Anything RX supplement, or Fructaid (which is slightly cheaper).

Happy eating.

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