Food restrictions: when my tummy made me “that one”

(Mood: poisonous apple red with a tiny leaf of green)

If I tell you the words “Christmas” and “Food”, what kind of feeling do you get? For me it used to be: warm, cozy, a lot, heavy, comfort and family. Pretty nice 🙂

Then, a couple of years ago, I became a vegetarian, and though I’m not doubting that choice at all, it does make these kind of traditional things a whole lot more complicated. Am I going to upset my family if I don’t eat the meat? Should I take stuff for myself? After a couple of years that sorts itself out though, and there are still a lot of happy-memory related foods that you can eat, like cookies!

Fast forward a bit more, to this autumn, and I got diagnosed with IBS, irritable bowel syndrome. It’s a state in which you bowels don’t work properly, somewhere the nerves and muscles don’t agree with each other, and everything moves either to fast or too slow. The symptoms are pretty universal: bloating, pain, irregular toilet visits… There is no decisive test, but if all really bad things, like cancer, are ruled out, you probably have IBS. I’d never heard of it, but apparently 10-15% of the population has some degree of it. Sadly, risk factors are: female, under 50y old, stress. Fits like a glove.

The best thing they can suggest against it, except for de-stressing (ha!), is to regulate your diet, as it’s thought that it’s your body, and/or microflora, reacting to certain types of fermentable sugars in food. So, you start a food-plan, called a low FODMAP diet, removing basically everything I used to eat: bread, milk, onions, garlic, beans, apples, avocado, etc, etc. After a while, if things get better, you do weeks of testing possible trigger foods, like eating half a teaspoon of honey, to see which ones are actually causing the issue. After the full test-period, you can start eating to non-trigger things again. And that is where the issue with Christmas comes in… As long as you prepare food for yourself it’s pretty manageable, but eating out? In restaurants, work julbords, family dinners,… It just stressed me out thinking about it. And those Christmas cookies? Nope, unless they are gluten and lactose free and not sweetened with apple or something… Believe me, there’s not too many of those. So my current feeling about “Christmas” and “Food” is more: fear, tiny portions, bloating and social awkwardness. Not so nice 😦

The good news is, avoiding the trigger stuff really, really helps so far. Like, feeling-reborn kind of help. Not-feeling-pregnant-by-food kind of help. Not-wanting-to-throw-up kind of help. But also social-isolation kind of help. I feel like I’ve become “that woman” who needs everything special and isn’t appreciating the food that others have worked for. I have gained a lot of respect for people with food issues though, and this isn’t even an allergy, it’s not life threatening in any way.

But, if none of this applies to you, or you think your food-thing is not enough yet, here’s a music video by Kollektivet with some more inspiration on how to become “that woman” or “that guy”.

We’re all a bit “that one”, so, in the spirit of Christmas, try to be kind to others and yourself, I’ll try to do the same!


More info on IBS: Mayo Clinic
More info on low FODMAP and the research behind it: Monash University low FODMAP

Cover image: Pixabay


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