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A bowl of rice, a glass of water, and a banana are in outline in the background, and a in a burst of full color a burger, fries and a milkshake interrupt the outlined foods.

Having A Trigger Food Once In A While

Am I expected to be perfect 100 percent of the time? Or am I supposed to live a restricted lifestyle forever because I have a chronic condition? Yes, I have IBS, but IBS shouldn’t have me. I should still be able to enjoy certain things whether they consequently bring me pain or not. Therefore, I believe there’s nothing wrong with having a trigger food once in a while.

Of course, as with all decadent things that are also bad for our health, I know these things should be done in moderation, and I practice that. It’s important to avoid trigger foods as much as possible when having irritable bowel syndrome because the wrong one, or too much at once, can literally set you back a couple of weeks to a month.

When trigger foods set me back a week

I recall one time on vacation when I was indulging quite a bit in alcohol and fried food, and when I got back home, the pain was so intense and consistent that I had no choice but to call out of work for the next week and cancel anything else I had on my schedule. The only places I wanted to be was either on the toilet or on my comfortable bed. I was always nauseous and kept having painful bouts of both constipation and diarrhea. Having an IBS episode that can last for days or weeks at a time can truly affect a person’s livelihood, let alone the quality of life. So, with that being said, whenever I plan to have a cheat meal with trigger ingredients, I make sure to plan accordingly.

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Timing my trigger foods

I normally like to have a cheat meal closer to the end of the week because I know that I’ll have the weekend to recover. And let me quickly define a cheat meal for me; it’s literally being able to eat anything I want, and almost the entire meal is most likely a trigger. I had to define that because they’ll be occasions when I’ll add a small and less intense trigger ingredient, like garlic powder, to a mostly IBS-friendly dish, but I wouldn’t really consider that cheating since every ingredient isn’t a trigger.

Nonetheless, I do my best to make sure I don’t plan anything important around the times I have a cheat meal because I want to have the flexibility to move things around if I needed or wanted to. Also, I believe it’s important for my mental health to feel like I have a sense of control over my life, despite knowing the consequences to my actions. If I’m aware that my actions of eating triggers foods will lead to me suffering a bad IBS episode, then at least I’ll have no one to blame but myself. Why is that important to me? Because when I’m responsible for my choices and actions, then I feel a sense of purpose, which is an important thing to have when dealing with a chronic illness that affects your mental health.

Sometimes, trigger foods are worth it

Having a trigger food once in a while is more than just being able to eat whatever I want. It’s a part of self-care and managing my mental health. So, if you ask me if it’s worth it every time, I’ll be frank and say, not all the time. But, for the most part, yes, because I want to feel like I have IBS and it doesn’t have me. It’s about using the power of perspective to empower myself with a sense of control over my life.

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

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