Thursday, April 14, 2016

My current meal plan

I sure do have some tidying up to do on my blog...all of my links at the top of my page are pretty outdated. A reader recently asked about my current meal plan, and that's when I realized I haven't been following the one I have posted at all!

When we moved, the meal plan in my pantry was removed along with everything else, and I didn't think to put it back up in the new place. Since then, there have been so many changes to my condition and in my life that I'm not sure that meal plan would work right now. You might be wondering, "It's food. How difficult is it to make food fit into your life?" if you haven't ever had very severe IBS. When I was super sick, I ate dry Rice Krispies for breakfast, nothing for lunch, and plain, steamed rice for dinner. Trying to work in anything besides that was fecal suicide. (Please cite me if you ever use this term 😜)

Before I dive into what I'm eating right now, I feel like I have to tell/remind you of why it's especially hard for me to find things to eat. Along with IBS, I also have a fair amount of mental comorbidities. Many of you may suffer from these as well since IBS and mental illness tend to go hand in hand. (Because we obviously need more shit to complicate our lives...) I go in and out of depression and have had 3 major depressive episodes that I know of so far. I feel like I would be able to hike that number up had mental illness not been so stigmatized when I was little and my parents had taken me to see a psychologist. Part of me is glad they didn't, but the other part thinks I would have learned coping mechanisms much earlier in life and wouldn't have struggled so hard through much of it emotionally. I also have a lot of phobias, and that is where my issue with food originates.

The most severe phobia is my phobia of vomit (emetophobia). I grew up with this one, and I have memories of being terrified of puke that date back as early as my kindergarten year. As I grew up, this phobia started to affect my life more and more. After my bout with food poisoning almost 10 years ago, it intensified into something that ruled my daily life. I basically did not leave the house during norovirus season- which usually lasts from late October to April- and wouldn't allow anyone to come into my house unless they confirmed they weren't sick (to their stomach) first. I would literally ask people that. Then, I took a Microbiology class and learned all about bacteria. After that class, I got to tack on "germophobe" to my list of issues. Now I am incredibly cautious about germs that could possibly lead to me vomiting. It's very specific. Same as everyone else, I don't enjoy being coughed on, sneezed on, etc as long as it only leads to a respiratory illness. If someone coughs on me, I go to pretty much any length to find out exactly what their symptoms are so I know if I can relax or if the waiting period begins to see if I'm going to get sick to my stomach. Keep in mind I haven't puked since I had food poisoning 10 years ago, so there is a LOT of built up anxiety over that; so much so that we're putting off having kids because pregnancy might make me sick to my stomach. (That's a whole other post in and of itself...)

Oh lord. I'm getting back to my old ways by starting to write a book here when I should be answering a simple question. Let me pull in the reins and sum this up for you- I don't feel comfortable touching my food unless I've washed my hands right before eating. At home. I don't feel comfortable going into public restrooms, washing my hands, and eating after that. Therefore, what I can eat when I'm away from the home is limited to things I can eat straight from the package or with a utensil (from home that I've transported in a baggie). And then add to that the fear that I'm going to eat something that will trigger my IBS and cause me to have to use a restroom in public or the fear that I'm going to eat something prepared by someone else that's under cooked or contaminated, and there's very little I can eat outside the house. When I'm at home, it's much easier, but I still have to worry somewhat about how it will affect me the next day. Nowadays, it's very unlikely that any food I'd choose would cause any sort of long-lasting issues the next day, but the mental damage of 8 or so years of having diarrhea 10+ times a day and feeling sick all the time apparently can't be reversed.

Ok, now that I'm done bearing the deepest of my insecurities to you, let's talk about what I'm eating.
Work day: 
  • Breakfast: two spoonfuls of applesauce (for the fiber) and cereal (usually knockoff Cheerios, Apple Jacks, or Cocoa Krispies) with milk
  • Snacks: Rice Krispies. I usually have two of these a day depending on how hungry I get at work
  • Lunch: two Nature Valley Peanut bars (chewed very, very well so the nuts don't kill me) and a Luna bar (I really like the Chocolate Peppermint Stick, White Chocolate Macadamia, and Honey Salted Peanut flavors)
  • Dinner: my husband is the best and really loves cooking for me, especially now that I can eat a wider variety of food. We usually have chicken (yes, I check the thermometer every time) with either rice, pasta, or potatoes, and then a veggie like green beans, steamed broccoli, or corn (ugh, I know...I always say, "See ya tomorrow morning!" when I eat it, but it's so good). I'll occasionally eat fish, mac & cheese, and a veggie, or a grilled cheese with tomato soup (cramps and gassy poo the next morning), or pizza (2 slices of a certain kind only and a surefire 6 or 7 the next morning), or oatmeal (tons of gas and a super fluffy 6 the next morning) or Chinese (white rice with shrimp and broccoli). 
Day off:
  • Breakfast: honestly, I eat like crap on my days off. I feel like a rebel being able to eat however I want, but I usually just end up eating junk all day. I rarely have cereal for breakfast on my days off. I'll have a cookie or two, a slice of banana bread, a Poptart, nothing at all, a packet of peanut butter crackers, buttered (and sugared) toast, or whatever else I can scrounge up.
  • Lunch: almost always popcorn or nothing
  • Dinner: hubs is home by then and snaps me back into reality, luckily, because then I have work the next morning and, while my mistakes from earlier in the day have already caught up to me by then, my dinner mistakes would rear their ugly heads the next morning. We eat the same as above. 
We rarely go out because of my ever-changing triggers and the phobias. If we do, I pick the simplest thing on the menu like pasta and red sauce or a grilled cheese. In a restaurant setting, these things tend to upset my stomach more than when I eat them at home. I'm not sure if it's the anxiety of eating out that still gets to me- even though I don't often feel the need to rush home to my bathroom anymore- or if we've just perfected the ingredients since we only use certain brands at home that have been certified trigger-free.  As far as snacks, I eat those Austin cheese crackers with peanut butter, popcorn, (a certain brand of) cookies (that don't give me that awful feeling in my small intestines), trail mix (vigorously chewed), Rice Krispies, Special K pastry crisps, or yogurt.

When people (my family) see me eating snacks they always say, "Looks like you can eat anything you want now," like just because it's junk I'm cured. What they don't understand is that I eat it because I can. Because at some point it has entered my house, entered my mouth, and not exited my body, noisily and violently, in 30 minutes or less. I can't explain why certain foods that bothered me 10 years ago don't bother me today and vice versa. I just eat what I can and don't eat what I can't. So, while this definitely answers the question of what I'm eating now, it may be worthless to you. Every food I eat may be a trigger for you. It may be a trigger for me next week. Who knows? But, if that happens, I'll just cut it out and try something else because I refuse to go back to having a severely limited diet.


  1. Hey Rachel! These are some really good posts! I have IBS also and I can def relate to a lot of what you deal with. IBS is no fun but I'm glad you have the courage to help spread awareness about it. And since it's IBS Awareness Month (April), I figured I'd show some love and support to your blog. I have a YouTube channel where I kinda "vlog" about my IBS. Please check it out and if you like my videos, then please subscribe and share them to help me raise and spread awareness about this condition. Here's a link to one of my videos. I would really appreciate the support! Peace and positive vibes! And hopefully you have more better days with your IBS than bad! :)

  2. Oh. My GOODNESS. I REALLY HOPE you still check your comments and read this. I'm sorry, but I didn't read the whole entry. I stopped after the paragraph about your emetophobia and subsequent germophobia. You could be describing me! I knew there must be other people out there, but I've never met/come across alone! I'm literally a little starstruck right now. I'll probably go back to the very beginning of your blog and read it all the way through, because I'm obsessive like that, but WOW. I went twenty years without vomiting, and somewhere in there I developed a MAJOR phobia. Then I got food poisoning about five years ago, and I threw up once. I haven't since, but an obscenely large percentage of my life is spent avoiding occasions where I may vomit/be around someone who may vomit/may contract germs or virus that could make me vomit. And I have extreme IBS and poo issues that are agitated all the more by my paranoia and phobia. I'm so glad I came across this -- it made my day for sure! So glad I'm not alone :)

    1. I'm not sure how I missed your comment! You're definitely not alone. My goal with this blog was to make people feel less alone. I used to feel like no one in the universe knew how I felt until people like you started commenting on my posts, so I'm glad you came across this too. 😊

  3. I have never related to something so much in my entire life. I had my partner read it and she thought it was something I'd written!

    I too suffer from crippling emetophobia and the ever changing diet known as IBS.
    I'm veggie/vegan outside of the home, I have developed hands-free strategies for eating difficult things in public and I will only eat with my hands if I have immediately washed them (count to 30!) and not touched anything except my food exclusively at home.
    Some call it OCD, anxiety or even just crazy but I like how it brings out the creativity in me.

    I found your blog after just spending another evening locked in my favourite place - the bathroom.

    Long I have suffered and your blog has given me the laugh I feel I truly needed this evening.

    Forgive me for rambling but it's not often I find something so relatable!
    I wish you were still active because I feel like I have found some sort of relatable IBS haven.
    Hope ya bowels aren't getting you down in 2017! Ciao.

    1. I'm still here!! Your comment seriously made my week- so thanks for rambling 😜 I'm going to post soon about why I've been so silent. Since I've been doing better lately, I don't have as much to post about, but I try to stay active so people have someone to talk to/don't feel alone (which is why I started this thing in the first place). Keep an eye out for that new post in the next week!