Just One Little Bite
What could ultimately ruin any day, but especially a holiday, for someone who has food allergies and sensitivities?
“Just one little bite.”
This phrase is often forcefully injected into conversation when I politely decline trying someone’s carefully crafted kitchen creation. I promise it’s not your food, it’s my gut, but you don’t seem to be buying that as a legitimate reason to decline your invitation to taste what might poison my system.
You see, the ‘perk’ of my autoimmune diseases is that I likely react negatively to eating food - almost any food. I have a list of 25 foods I stick to and when I do, I feel my best. Veering from that can have consequences ranging from digestive discomfort to straight vomiting for 3 days. With too many leafy greens or the wrong fruit/vegetable, I’m blessed with a rash that feels like poison ivy on my insides, while reflected in hives and veiny lines wrapping my midsection in a fire ant hill of fun. When I eat chocolate I will puke for 3 days - while my insides are dissolving in acid. When I eat corn, every inch of me aches like the flu and this one always requires a detox which is equally flu like, but 2 weeks long. When I eat dairy or gluten, I feel as though my insides are scorching and hell fire is searing out of every orifice. Some things cause hives and others chills. Some headaches and body aches.
Each item I put into my mouth I’m hyper aware of. Each bite I’m not certain about riddles me with anxiety and fear. Food is necessary and you are what you eat. I refuse to be plagued with discomfort - which for my home and body means a strict diet and patience while I seek out it’s needs to heal.
I get that I can come across as a zoo animal and you’re either confused by a lifestyle you can’t relate too, you’re baffled with disbelief, or likely suffering yourself and too daft to admit it.
You don’t have to believe a thing and you’re entitled to live in whatever reality you’ve created and denial you hold close. What I know is what I feel, and when I eat something I shouldn’t, I feel like dying. That’s no way to live
I have Celiacs, so if you cooked that in your gluten filled kitchen I’ll say, “No thank you.”
I have Interstitial Cystitis, so I gave up alcohol. I’m still the same me, just sober; but don’t ask me to come out drinking. I don’t want to go.
I have IBS, so the wrong thing will leave me in your bathroom for hours, sometimes days, waiting for the devastated gut to get itself together and cut me some slack.
So, even if you can’t understand what “just one bite” might do, or why someone passes on an offering of snackage….give them space and be okay with a “No.” When you tell me just one little bite - and you’re adorable with your almost suffocating peer pressure - I break into a crumpled mess of shame and insecurity. When you ignore my requests for self care, for what I know works for me, I feel insane. That’s no way to live.
I spent a lifetime fighting for myself. I hate that someone’s pushy presence can make you feel so ostracized. I get it, I’m the freak with the food restrictions. However, I’m learning that kindness is always an easier route. Can you try a bite of that?