Different foods are sitting on a countertop. A pair of glasses with pink lens reveals that the diary, grains, and gluten products are smiling and waving at the viewer.

Food is Not the Enemy: Part I

IBS often makes us experiment with recipes. We avoid dairy, grains, seeds, fruit – anything we think might be causing discomfort. But have we stopped to think about whether we are making the right decisions? Have we considered whether removing food is fixing the problem or simply putting a small bandage on a growing wound?

Experimenting with food and recipes is perfectly fine, and even encouraged. There’s nothing wrong with trying new things and avoiding food that you know hurts you. But when we start eliminating entire food groups from the diet there is the potential for harm. This is especially true if you are not properly researching the ramifications of said actions.

Maybe it’s time we try to rethink how we experiment with food. It could be time for a new kind of experimenting; instead of worrying about how the food will impact your IBS, maybe we just need to accept how our bodies react. I like to think of it as a ‘should shrug’ mentality. Look at your plate and just say, “so what!?”

Shrugging off food with IBS

Obviously, this mentality does not pertain to serious allergies and reactions. There are a time and place for experimenting and elimination of foodstuffs. Your health is important and should not be shrugged off. You need to remain tuned-in to your body and your reactions.

This is not about ignoring your IBS. On the contrary, shrug-off is about understanding your body. Shrugging off certain things doesn’t mean being unhealthy. It doesn’t mean giving up. The shrug-off is about taking charge of your life, making informed decisions, being in control.

I know that for those of us who suffer from IBS, “control” seems like an unattainable concept. It borders on impossible. But when I talk about taking control, I don’t mean that you will be able to govern your every bodily function. You’re not a mutant with superhero powers (though that would be a cool ability!) I mean controlling your decisions, your thoughts and reactions. I’m talking about controlling what you are doing, who you are, what you eat. I’m talking about taking responsibility for yourself, your actions and your reactions.

Food: the frenemy of IBS

So, what does the shrug-off mean for food? How will your relationship with food change? Well, it’s really up to you – that’s the whole point.

Instead of looking at food as your enemy, try to look at it with a new lens. Think of that bit of gluten, that pinch of dairy, or that handful of grains as a new acquaintance. It’s a new friend you need to get to know.

Sure, this friend might be annoying and crabby at times, it might even make you want to scream in frustration. But it can also bring joy to your life. It can make you happy, fulfilled.

Soon, you start to have a relationship with it. You learn how much you can handle it and when to avoid it. Your relationship isn’t perfect; far from it. At times, you still want to completely eliminate it from your life. But, at least now, you have an understanding. You’ve become frenemies.

The food you once avoided, hated, cut from your diet, now has a place in your life. More specifically, a place on your plate.

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