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A woman firmly refuses offerings of different foods by giving a stern look and putting up a hand.

Dear Friends and Family, I Cannot Eat That

If I tell you that I cannot eat something, take my word for it. I know my body. I know what I can and cannot eat. Your opinion on the matter does not change the situation.

IBS does not care about your thoughts or feelings. It does not care about mine. As much as your feelings are hurt that I will not eat your food, my feelings are also hurt that I cannot eat it. It is torture for me at times, and you are making it worse.

Your feelings vs. my gut

I understand that you slaved over a hot stove for hours to prepare a meal. IBS does not care. No matter how much time it took to prepare a dish, the effect it has on me remains the same. Odds are, it will affect me for far longer than it took for you to prepare it.

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When you tell me I should just taste it and a little will not hurt, it is the same as saying just a small taste of poison will not hurt you. That small taste can trigger a flare. It is unpredictable. Odds are, I will be paying for that small taste for days, perhaps even weeks.

Stop pushing me to eat

I am hungry. When I show up at your house, I have likely been fasting for some time in order to leave my home. Waving food in front of my face and hounding me to try it is torture. IBS does not care that I am starving. Imagine being unable to eat and having someone show you delicious dishes. That is what you are doing to me.

IBS does not care about my cravings. It does not care that the food smells delicious. One bite is enough to make me miserable. A single bite can induce pain and suffering that lasts for days. Oh, how I would love to try your dish, but I cannot. Stop waving it in front of my face and insisting I try it. Perhaps you do not realize it, but you are tormenting me.

The consequences of trigger foods

Perhaps you do not understand the consequences of eating trigger foods. An IBS flare can trigger pain that ranges from light cramping to extremely sharp pains. This pain can last for days on end, meaning miserable days and sleepless nights. A single bite of a trigger food can result in absolute misery.

Pain is not the only issue. I will spend countless hours in the bathroom as my body tries to rid itself of the offending food. Long after the trigger is gone, it will keep overreacting. Imagine food poisoning. It is similar to that. Asking me to try your dish is the same as me asking you to take a bite of raw chicken.

It is not okay to torture me

I know you are proud of your culinary skills. I understand that your dish is spectacular. You need to understand that I would love to try it, but I cannot eat that. I know what I can and cannot eat thanks to many years of experience. Repeatedly asking me to try your food while I am starving from fasting is cruel.

You would not eat in front of someone fasting before surgery. Why do you think it is okay to hound me to eat when I am fasting? I am not asking you not to eat in front of me. I am asking you to stop pushing food in my face when I tell you I cannot eat.

Stop thinking my illness is a personal attack on you

If I tell you I would like to try it but cannot right now, offer to send some home with me. That gives me the option to try it while I am near my bathroom and can stay home. I can call you and rave about your dish without worrying if I will make it home without having an accident.

If I decide against trying it, do not be offended. Lengthy or repeated flares are exhausting, painful, and sometimes lead to dehydration. I know when I can and cannot tolerate another flare. As much as you take it personal that I refuse to eat your food, I take it personal that you insist on torturing me. Fasting is not fun. It is not easy. I fasted so I could visit you or attend your event. I suffered for you, so appreciate my sacrifice.

Giving a brief explanation to people who do not know I have IBS does not bother me. I have grown weary of arguing with people who know and do not care. Have you been caught in similar situations? How do you handle these issues?

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