view of a person's boots sitting on a toilet with a breakup letter on the floor.

The BBQ Break-up Letter

Dear Local BBQ Joint:

It breaks my heart to say this, but I may have to quit you.

I’ve enjoyed many unforgettable lunches and dinners at your table. Piles of chopped, smoked beef brisket drenched in your fiery house-made sauce; heaps of sizzling, hand-breaded onion rings; even a Frito pie or two. You’ve been my go-to BBQ joint for more than two decades. There’s not a single out-of-town guest I haven’t brought to meet you, telling them: This is the real deal.

Trigger foods and flare-ups

But after the last few times we’ve broken cornbread together, I noticed that I’m as bloated as a birthday piñata. My gut gurgles, pops and squeaks like a fourth of July fireworks show going off. My bowels have the motility of a bucking Texas rodeo bronc. And it burns like a ring of fire south of the border...

Something’s changed. Did you tweak your recipes? The onion rings seem greasier than they used to be. (Foods with a high fat content may increase the strength of painful intestinal contractions, and onions are high in FODMAPs.) The hefty dose of cayenne pepper in your special spicy sauce now strikes me as excessive. (Spicy foods are a source of IBS pain for many people). It could simply be too much red meat… (another potential trigger food).

Listen to your body and make smart choices

Or maybe you’ve stayed the same and my IBS-M is what’s really changed. IBS symptoms can increase and decrease over time. Everyone’s experience is different. Either way, I literally can’t seem to stomach you anymore. That’s a real bummer. Though I’ve had IBS for many years, I’ve been lucky when it comes to trigger foods. I haven’t had to give up much, as long as I follow my regular care regimen. For a resident of Texas to say goodbye to BBQ, though, seems beyond the pale.

I’ve learned that I have to listen to my body and respect what it’s telling me rather than fight it. Instead of completely letting go, however, maybe I could make some smart order substitutions. For example, I could visit the salad bar or try the squash casserole instead of those greasy onion rings. Your brisket and pork ribs are to die for, but you also serve some tasty smoked chicken and turkey breast. And reaching for the regular BBQ sauce (which I used to dismiss as fancy ketchup) instead of the spicy version is nothing to be ashamed of.

Maybe I need to make some smart attitude adjustments as well. OK, smoked turkey breast isn’t the same as the brisket, but it can be as good as the brisket. The regular BBQ sauce isn’t as memorable as the spicy version, but it can be as tangy as. And though not as crunchy as onion rings, the squash casserole can be as satisfying as.

I guess I don’t need to quit you after all, local BBQ Joint! I just have to quit focusing on what I used to enjoy and start appreciating what it is I can enjoy.

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