IBS sucks. On the purpose of how to enjoy food.

I open the fridge and stare at its content. It has 4 shelves, 1 per flatmate, and you can definitely see our personalities in the food we each have.

There is a shelf full of packaged cheese, sliced bread and beers. That’s it, nothing more. The one underneath it is full of tupperwares for the week with rice or chicken —depending on the alternating week— plus more beer and some broccoli florets. The third one from the top has cheeses, wine, store-bought soups and yoghurt. The bottom one has eggs, tahini, tabasco, pea soup and a tupper with a butternut squash in chunks. The bottom drawer and the door are another thing. There reigns the law of the wild wild west and you can tell by the 4 jars of mayo and 6 sticks of butter.

If you had talked to me 10 years ago, you would have thought that my shelf is the top one. I survived on mac n cheese and chicken breast for 6 months while studying in San Diego. But it’s not, it’s the one with the tabasco, tahini and eggs. God knows what I can cook with that.

The funny thing is that now that I know how to cook somewhat, I need to re-learn. After being on the constant lookout for a loo for 5 weeks straight, the doctor deemed that I had IBS and not a bug in my stomach, as was feared by mum after my trips to Israel, Jordan and Morocco. Apparently there is an endless list of things I can no longer eat, starting with onions and garlic. I’m Spanish, I don’t know how I’m going to pull that off. Everything has onion, garlic or both.

A small part of me was actually relieved with the diagnosis. “I’m not making it up, it’s a thing” and “it now makes sense why I’ve had so much pain all this years” were my first thoughts. That was until a friend dismissed it —one with depression that complains about how people don’t get that she is actually ill, even if she doesn’t look like she is from the outside— and I found myself trying to figure out how to navigate my social life with this new piece of information.

Does this mean that I don’t get to go out to restaurants and pubs anymore? I really love food but I also don’t want to get cramps if I can avoid them and I specially don’t want to have to be discussing my stomach and stool situation all the time.

And does this mean that I can’t have any more tabasco?

Ana Pradas