A woman walks nervously amid a sea of food outlines including onions, fish, cake, and more

My Relationship With Food and IBS

I have always had a healthy relationship with food. The only restrictions that I've ever put on myself in regards to eating (I eat fairly healthy but indulge when I want) are the 6 years I was gluten-free before being diagnosed with IBS and my choice to live a Kosher-style life (no pork*, no shellfish, and no milk and meat eaten together, such as a cheeseburger). Other than that, I eat anything. I always tell people, "I'm not picky, but I just won't eat that" — i.e., I'm up for trying any dishes as long as the above 3 categories are respected.

Moreso than having a healthy relationship with food, I have always had a joyful relationship with food. I find pleasure and happiness in food. I love talking about food and history to anyone who will lend an ear, and I love trying new restaurants and cuisines.

IBS affects my relationship with food

Having IBS, and the 6 years I was gluten-free, thinking that was the issue, puts a detriment on my healthy, joyful relationship with food. We have all been through finishing a terrific meal, whether home-cooked or at a restaurant, and immediately rushing to the bathroom. The wave of pain masks the feeling of pleasure from 10 minutes prior when I was thrilled to be tasting the flavors and savoring the textures of the food set before me.

I was recently out to dinner with my sister at an Italian restaurant. I brought my IBGard pills (once again, those pills are my lifesaver) and enjoyed my dish. But, of course, my stomach started gurgling at me, and a feeling of heaviness came over my body as the bloating set in. I decided not to finish eating the entire dish and didn't bother asking for a takeaway box.

I knew I wouldn't be able to go back to it with this reaction to it. My sister repeatedly asked me if it was better for us to take a cab home or if I was okay to walk. I told her I would be fine to walk, and I was at that time. IBS is a detriment on my relationship with food not only for the fact that sometimes I can't eat all day because of flare-ups (as I'm typing this, I'm going through one of those days) but also because I hate feeling like I've lost the sense of enjoyment you get after finishing a meal when I'm too busy rushing to the bathroom.

Low FODMAP diet for IBS

I've mentioned before in a previous article that I have tried the Low FODMAP diet before... and spoiler alert: I didn't last very long sticking with it. I know that the Low FODMAP diet is a great way to help ease the symptoms of IBS... but I can't do it. To me, the diet seems incredibly restrictive. It feels like it will cause my relationship with food to suffer. If the low FODMAP diet works for you, then all the more power to you. I can't risk my relationship with food like that. If I attempt this diet again, my relationship with food will be much less joyful. I want to eat what I want to eat.

The pain of IBS

That's the trouble with IBS. We are restricted. We are stuck in this constant battle over nourishing ourselves and being in the least amount of pain possible. I just don't want to give up my happiness in the midst of it.

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