A man holding a giant fork looks out on a mountain scene made of food

My Old Adventures in Food

Last updated: November 2022

There were so many things I was proud of growing up. For instance, I loved my name, Sawyer. It was so unique, and everybody would ask me the same questions: if I’ve seen the TV series Lost, or if my name came from the book Tom Sawyer–to which I would always find new and exciting ways to respond to the same 2 prompts for every and always. I was also proud of my love of all things food.

My food adventure days before IBS

I always chased the most unique and wild foods on the menu. I've eaten alligator burgers in Louisiana, Kangaroo burgers in a wild game restaurant (everything can do a burger these days, huh), and a whole serving of Haggis while on a family trip to Scotland. When my family kept from eating their served portions at a little inn in Edinburgh, I scarfed down everyone’s plates, just eating that yummy meat dish til the cows came home.

I liked being unique, and my diet reflected that.

My food choices after IBS

Food, much like travel, was an adventure! Looking back, I think it’s wild that I ate all that meat and all that cheese while out and about. IBS has changed me a lot. I don’t know what came first–my diagnosis or my symptoms. The confirmation and knowledge, or the growing symptoms and irritability.

My diet is nowhere NEAR as adventurous or thrilling as it used to be. Gone are the days when I could eat willy-nilly. I don’t even eat ice cream while on a walk in the park for fear of having a flare-up and having an emergency butt squirt. How was I able to be so reckless but yet, so happy?

Finding joy despite IBS

I’ve found that my joy doesn’t come from what I eat but from what I’m doing and who I’m with. I can eat tasty and vengeful foods when it’s safe. I would much rather enjoy the feeling of NOT having a flare-up than the momentary joy of eating a cool sandwich. After all, the memories of being in the UK with my family, seeing Stonehenge, and Big Ben, will always trump the 3 different fish and chips meals I had. Sure, nowadays I might pop in an Imodium and have some french-onion soup, but at what cost? The fear of having a flare-up will be worse than the soup is good.

Am I suggesting I, or you, should let fear take over? Well, no. But, I think it’s important to reprioritize life with IBS. Practically speaking, my gut and anus can’t take the wrath of my great grandma’s homemade baked mac and cheese recipe. IBS can feel like it’s taking so much away, but if I can savor some more moments with friends and loved ones, if it means I get a Turkey club sandwich instead of the shrimp Alfredo, then I’m all in for it. After all, my own body takes enough things away from me, so why should I do that too?

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