Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Dealing With Family and Friends Who Just Don’t Understand

Dealing With Family and Friends Who Just Don’t Understand

Growing up as a child with IBS was difficult. At times I felt like my parents did not believe me, and the fact that my pediatrician very much made it out to be a functional disorder did not help my case at all. I specifically remember her telling my mom, “she’s full of crap, literally” and laughing. How awful is that? The answer was always “take more fiber, drink more water.” It’s always easier said than done, and as a child I didn’t have much of a choice or voice in the matter. At school, I was terrified to eat lunch. I knew what the repercussions would be afterwards. My stomach would start making horrible noises while in a quiet class, people staring, I was scared to use the restroom while at school and I would make myself sick trying to hold it and prayed it would pass.

Coping with family who don’t understand IBS

Family didn’t seem to truly understand my condition. I grew up with two sisters, who were always able to eat what they wanted, so I was the odd one out. I still had to eat what everyone else ate at home; there were no substitutions. I remember the day I finally broke down. I was in the 8th grade, and I told my dad I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was miserable. I had gained weight, was extremely insecure. I was put on a diet plan and my symptoms were less severe. I still battle with my IBS, and there are still friends and family members, especially my mom, who do not understand WHY I can’t eat certain foods. Don’t get me wrong, my mom can cook. Delicious is an understatement, but sometimes I feel stuck between hurting her feelings or hurting my stomach. I feel pressured into eating her foods saturated in butter and heavy whipping cream, mainly because I don’t want to feel the guilt or be asked all the questions.

This past Thanksgiving, mom cooked all the family favorites. I barely had a spoonful of each dish on my plate. I was maybe 50% done before I started feeling sick. I didn’t want mom to know and hid it as best as I could, however she noticed. Comments were made about how she cooked all that food and I barely ate. I truly did feel bad, but at some point we have to take a stand for ourselves.

Just say no

I know it’s easier said than done, but we need to create healthy boundaries for ourselves, especially when it comes to our health. There is a polite and tactful way to say no thank you, and if whomever does not understand, then we need to realize that sometimes it’s simply not for them to understand. I’ve had to decline friends and family’s food on numerous occasions, and now that I have my own child with IBS, it’s double the “no thank yous”, even when choosing a restaurant to have family dinners. While it’s difficult, it does get easier saying “no.” Remember: You need to do what’s best for YOU!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • jthomp9
    6 months ago

    Tori,
    Absolutely! I’ve had IBS for many years, and I’ve learned it’s so important that we advocate for ourselves. I understand totally about rich, heavy foods. Those are major IBS triggers for me: foods with high-fat content! I have learned over the years that there are certain foods that I need to avoid. It’s not worth the hours of suffering with nausea and stomach cramps!

  • Tori Whitney moderator author
    5 months ago

    Agreed!! Thanks for sharing! – Tori

  • Holly5757
    7 months ago

    As a kid growing up with IBS I can totally relate to this. I always had a rumbly, gassy, bloated stomach with horrible nausea. Back then they called it spastic colon. My doctor also made light of the situation. I missed quite a bit of school due t the nausea and belly pain. My mom would get frustrated with my whining.
    Now here I am today, same symptoms, worse intensity since I have gotten older. I have found a decent gastroenterologist. But even he has told me that IBS is a trial and error on things that give relief. Everyone is different. So I have been with him for 3 years doing the “trial and error.” I hope to get relief sooner than later. Still not sure of all my triggers. Even after suffering pretty much my whole life.

  • Tori Whitney moderator author
    5 months ago

    Sounds like we can really relate!!! Thank you for sharing. I hope you get relief soon, too! – Tori

  • foodiewithIBS
    7 months ago

    I feel the same way, because I don’t think anyone understands what it’s like to have IBS. My friends think I’m making excuses when we go out and I don’t want to eat what everyone else is eating, but honestly, I know I’m going to suffer afterwards. My IBS symptoms make me feel terrible and usually I have to cancel plans and I tend to stay in a lot of the time, even though I’d much rather be out with my friends and loved ones.

  • Tori Whitney moderator author
    5 months ago

    I totally understand! Do what’s best for YOU! Thank you for sharing! – Tori

  • Poll