Situation: Your name is Sally and you struggle with your weight and you have an unhealthy relationship with food. You go out to eat with one of your super skinny friends and you order extra bacon on your bleu cheese bacon burger (because bacon is the best thing). What would you do if your friend said, “Say, Sally. Why are you ordering that extra helping of bacon? Don’t you think that’s a bit much?” Seriously, what would you do? I imagine you’d be horrified and decide immediately that your friendship is not as valuable as it once was.
Plea: Do me a favor, the next time you’re out with a friend who is choosing to or must eat gluten free, dairy free, soy free, meat free, sugar free, whatever free, do not ask them why. Please. For the love of everything you hold dear to you. If they offer up the information, then listen intently, but just don’t ask.
Food is a very personal experience for many. I was recently diagnosed with a digestive disorder called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In my opinion, this diagnosis was created by western doctors so they could tell people like me that we have a disorder without telling us how to fix it. My doctor actually said, “Well, it could be due to anything really. Try to add some fiber to your diet and let’s talk again in a couple of months.” If you knew what was happening to my body at that time and I told you I had to drink some nasty fiber bevies and hope for the best for a couple of months, you would have fuh-reaked out.
IBS can manifest in a variety of ways. I cringe when people ask me, “What is IBS, what happened to you?” You really don’t want to know, y’all. It’s really gross. Imagine all of the gross things that could happen to your butt and they were happening. So, what did I do? I politely told my doctor to bugger off (under my breath, in my car as I was driving home from my $2,000 appointment) and hired a nutritionist. For thirty long days, I had to remove every major toxin from my diet so we could isolate what was triggering my Unhappy Butt Syndrome. I ended up eliminating dairy, soy, gluten, alcohol, processed sugar and caffeine.
If you thought to yourself, “So what DID you eat?” I applaud you for being the eleventy billionth person to ask me that question. To answer, I ate a lot of meat and veggies and rice and quinoa and eggs (not considered dairy to my tummy). Burritos and pizza, my favorite food groups, were no longer allowed. (Yes, I’m aware there are food allergy alternatives to these foods, but who are we kidding? It’s not the damn same). I started seeing a therapist because this major physical shift in the way I ate was messing with mind. I felt isolated. I couldn’t just go grab a beer or a slice anymore. I had to meal plan (what am I, a mom?) and my comfort foods were no longer available to me.
After going through all of this, I’ve found a happy medium. I allow myself a few cheats here and there, but I know when my body can’t handle certain foods and I set limits for my diet. For the first time in my 29 years of life, I feel amazing. While I can’t eat what I used to love, I’m finding new favorites and I actually enjoy using the bathroom.
But all of those frustrated, isolated feelings come back when anyone asks me, “Oh, you’re gluten free? Whyyyyyy?” The honest answer is a really gross story about poop that I’d rather not share after I ordered a salad without croutons or cheese. If you wouldn’t judge your friend – who doesn’t have dietary limitations – about her choices, please, I beg of you, don’t judge anyone else’s.