Whenever my IBS flares up, I get really mad at myself.
"Idiot," I whisper. "Fucking moron. Stupid bitch."
Somewhere deep inside my gassy gut, I know that it's my fault that I feel this way. I know that there's something I'm doing wrong. There's no mysterious disease raging inside me.
Recently, I figured it out. For serious this time.
I eat too much.
When I lived with my ex-boyfriend's family, I often offered this hypothesis, whenever we discussed my tummy. His mother used to scoff at me: "You don't eat ANYTHING!"
Compared to most people, I don't eat much. I know my history though. As a kid, I ate morsels at every meal. Because I didn't give a shit about food then. Eating was for survival. Some bread and mayo. A bowl of cheerios. Half a slice of pizza. Then quick, I wanted to get back to the story I was working on, back outside with my friends on the corner.
This "whatever" feeling about food changed when I went to college. My vegetarian friend Celana urged me to eat salads. So I tried lettuce, for the first time, when I was 20.
No joke. I'd never had a vegetable other than potatoes before the age of 20. Is it no wonder that I got IBS?
Salad DRESSING and the onset of the Freshman Fifteen got me hitting up the salad bar on a regular basis. At the same time, I started dating a guy who loved to "shove." He showed me that food can be an entertaining experience. So when he went to the caf to "shove," I went too. And shoved.
IBS didn't really start until I became an adjunct prof. I worked at 2 schools, teaching 6 classes, 3 every day. A double full load.
The full taxation of this lifestyle was exacerbated by the 5 free meals offered at each caf. Free food! I went crazy. In one lunch hour, I ate salads, soups, and hunks of Challah bread. Then I wondered, making the long trek back into Boston, why I had so much trouble walking up Chestnut Hill Ave to catch the B train back home.
Nobody ever taught me how to eat. It's assumed that as human beings, we just know. We know when we are full. We know what agrees with us. Well, I didn't. I still don't. But I'm working on it.