So this is kind of an awkward post to write. I’ve been eating more beans and chickpeas, and especially trying to incorporate them into my lunches. The idea is to fill me up and keep me going, with healthy and frugal foods.
Which is all very well and good. Except I have quite a sensitive stomach (I used to think I had a mild case of IBS, but eating better, more home cooking, getting more sleep and reducing stress seems to have sorted me out) and my body is reacting pretty strongly to the beans. In short: they’re making me super gassy, which is uncomfortable and awkward at work.
I read an article in Canvas, cribbed from Psychology Today, a while ago about the strange eating habits people have. Nearly 20 per cent of people are repelled by raw tomatoes. Nearly the same amount just don’t like trying new foods, and 60 per cent of us eat just about the same thing for breakfast every day. I know I do! I used to eat cereal and toast when I was young. Then I used to just eat toast, then I switched to cereal. This year has been bitterly cold though and I’ve switched to porridge just because I don’t want to be pouring icy cold milk down my throat first thing when I get up. (Yes, I actually kind of like porridge, loaded with brown sugar).
I get really, insanely strong food cravings, and sometimes I can literally smell and taste whatever it is I want. Sometimes it’s sweet, like donuts or cheesecake or cookies. Sometimes it’s hearty, like pasta or stew. Sometimes it’s just plain trashy, like food court fried rice or butter chicken. It’s hardly ever something that’s really good for me, like sushi or salad (although I do enjoy both of those). There are all kinds of theories about food cravings, like craving a certain kind of flavour = lack of this or that nutrient in your diet. But this article reckoned cravings have more to do with culture and childhood than anything else.
There’s a lot of things I never ate growing up, and I just don’t see the appeal now. Like rice pudding, Dr Pepper, jerky, pork belly, crackling, jelly and lollies. (Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate in virtually all its incarnations. But I just don’t like lollies much; I think it’s the super plasticky, fake texture. I do, however, quite like sour lolllies on occasion don’t ask me why). And seriously, something as wobbly as jelly just shouldn’t be consumed!
Apparently, foods that are almost universally liked are fried chicken, fries, chocolate, cookies and packet mac and cheese – apparently people seem to respond to the orange colour, ha. Jeepers. Not one remotely healthy thing on that list!
I self diagnosed myself with mild IBS a while ago. I even kept a food diary for awhile. Of course, my symptoms seemed to clear up markedly during this month, but I worked out what triggered my digestive woes:
Cheap, bad food
Too many rich foods
And of course, stress – totally unrelated. When I’m strung out, I don’t eat, my stomach does acrobatics, and tries to purge what little is in it. This can go on for days.
Sadly, I love some foods too much to give up. The biggest problem for me is Indian. I love curries, with a vengeance. And a good Indian meal out at a restaurant poses absolutely NO problems. It’s the cheap takeaways or food courts that make my stomach rebel and send me to the toilet multiple times. It’s the readymade sauces we buy at the supermarket, butter chicken, or more recently, our beloved Nando’s coriander and lime stir fry sauce. It was hot. Even after being watered down with milk. Every mouthful burned, but burned nicely (think “Hurts so good”). I was too lazy to get anything to wash it down with. And it was delicious – I couldn’t get enough!
Even the cramps a few hours later were worth it. I think.
What’s the solution? I don’t know. I eat better now than I used to, or at least I try. I don’t stuff myself, even at all you can eat’s, and I’ve let go of my food-finishing guilt. I will now leave a few bites on my plate rather than force myself to choke them down. I’m also cutting down on the cheap nasties and the supermarket curry pastes/sauces.
I guess it’s all about balance. And I’m willing to go through the pain once in a while to enjoy a spicy, tasty meal.