I Still Fear Gatherings Centered Around Food
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Recently I had a dream about Christmas and it made me very afraid. This year, our family is all gathering together in one place, which we haven’t done for years. While I’m extremely glad to be seeing loved ones that I haven’t seen in years, there are some things about it that scare me.

This is what made me afraid

First, I’ll be away from my own kitchen. This scares me because it means that all my low FODMAP and dairy-free kitchen staples aren’t going to be with me. Sure, we’ll be able to pick up many things from the supermarket, but I know it’s likely that something will be missed.

Second, I’m not the only person in my family with food issues. This concerns me because no one else has exactly the same food issues as me. Which also means that there are additional food issues to consider. Because of that, one of two things will happen. Either we completely restrict all food concerns so that there’s no risk to anyone. Or, and most likely, there’s going to be a hodgepodge of food choices which suit some people but not others. This second option is most practical, but it makes the chance of mistakes much higher. It also means having to watch other people eating things that I can’t.

Third, I won’t be doing all the cooking. And since only one family member is used to cooking for my needs, the chance of another cook accidentally making a mistake is high. I can’t blame them though, because it’s incredibly easy to enter autopilot mode when cooking and accidentally do the wrong thing. So I’ll have to be in the kitchen all the time, write detailed instructions, or risk things going wrong.

Fourth, I will be far from home. This scares me because if my IBS is triggered, I won’t be able to drive home and ride out the flare up. And even if I do remember to take all my remedies with me, I won’t have the peace and quiet I’d normally have at home. While I know my family will do their best to be understanding, there’s only so much quiet space within a house filled with people.

Lastly, all these things can trigger stress. And since my IBS is sensitive to stress, it’s possible it will be triggered simply over the fear that these things may happen.

So what can be done about it?

The first thing I need to do is remember that this was a dream and not reality. The fact is that I’ll happily spend tons of time in the kitchen if it means making sure the food is safe for me. I’ve been doing that for years, so this time should be no different.

Next, I need to talk with my family to get a better understanding of everyone’s food needs and to ensure they understand mine. I also need to make sure they’re prepared to make changes to help me and that they realize what will happen if I eat the wrong foods.

After that, we need to plan a menu that will be as inclusive as possible. But to be aware of the food items that some of us will have to carefully avoid.

Finally, I need to stop worrying about it. Because worrying creates stress and dwelling on that worry will trigger my IBS faster than any food. So rather than fretting, I’ll be proactive and focus on what I can control, rather than on what I can’t.

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