Dear Friend and No IBS Program User,
Have you ever wondered why eating can be so stressful? The obvious answer is that food often poses a major challenge when you have IBS.
What’s less obvious is that the act of eating brings back all your memories of food and mealtimes, both good and bad.
Most of these memories are unconscious, but they affect your reaction to food and eating for better or worse throughout your life. Fortunately, you can use tapping to change that reaction. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to relax more around mealtimes and thoughts of food? We’ll explain how to do that in this letter.
Before we go into that, let’s talk about meal planning and how to create a simple IBS diet with lots of soluble fibre foods.
To relieve some of the stress associated with the special food requirements of coping with IBS, we recommend that you spend some time creating a food plan or weekly menu for yourself. This makes shopping and meal preparation much easier. You’ll have the food you need on hand and won’t have to worry about: “What should I (or can I) eat now?”
One way to do it is to choose three or four breakfasts that you like and tolerate as well as three or four lunches and dinners. Then you simply rotate through them. Keep bananas and applesauce on hand because they are easy to grab and are safe foods for almost all IBS sufferers.
Here are some other ideas that focus on mostly on soluble fiber foods:
1. Quick-cooking quinoa flakes (just add hot water, similar to oatmeal but gluten-free and contains soluble fiber)
1. Sweet potato or squash soup with diced white chicken
1. Cooked squash, white chicken
As your symptoms subside and your bowel heals, it’s important to add more green vegetables. Start with small amounts and make sure they are cooked and chopped or pureed.
If you have trouble with gas and bloating, beware of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages, until your digestive system is able to handle them more easily.
Legumes such as black beans, pinto beans, lentils, lima beans, chickpeas and other beans are also gas-causing foods. So even though they are mentioned on many lists of soluble fiber foods, beans probably won’t be easy on your body even when you take digestive enzymes. That’s because of the raffinose, an indigestible sugar in legumes. Best to avoid all gas-causing foods initially.
In private practice, one question we typically ask our clients is: “Are mealtimes stressful?”
Almost everyone answers, “No.”
Yet, when we probe a little about what their mealtimes were like when they were growing up, a very different picture emerges.
You may have happy memories of special birthday or holiday meals. But what were your daily experiences at the meal table?
During my childhood, breakfasts and dinners were often highly charged, with everyone at the table feeling upset or upsetting each other in one way or another. It took me many years to understand that the unconscious memories of these volatile meals were activated every time I sat at a table to eat with another person!
Even in a restaurant, I felt anxious sitting across from someone. My dining companion could be the most pleasant person in the world but because I unconsciously expected shouting, accusations, or criticism, I was always hyper-alert, ready for fight-or-flight. Needless to say, this didn’t do much to help my digestion! The result was often gas, stomach pain, constipation or drinking a few too many glasses of wine in an effort to self-medicate my extreme anxiety.
But it certainly explained why I could eat exactly the same foods by myself at home and feel fine.
If mealtimes are associated with stressful memories from the past, it’s very possible that you are being triggered into anxiety or other symptoms such as digestive problems, headaches, even back trouble, at breakfast, lunch, dinner or all three.
The stress may be associated with incidents from childhood such as sibling arguments or parental anger or criticism. Or your triggers may come from adulthood and may be associated with an angry, critical or alcoholic spouse or partner.
The following are examples of possible triggers of unconscious memories:
Tapping will help to take the stress out of mealtimes and eating by neutralizing those old triggers.
General script for mealtime anxiety
KC: Even though mealtimes used to be stressful, I deeply and completely accept myself.
EB: mealtime stress
Repeat. Then take a deep breath and release. If you wish, you can tap a third round, using the affirmations below.
EB: what if it could be different?
Here are some other set-up statements for tapping scripts on this important topic. Choose the ones that apply to you and tap on them, or make up your own.
1. Even though there was a lot of tension at the table, I’m ready to release it now
Reminder phrase: “tension at the table”
2. Even though breakfast/lunch/dinner was stressful, I’m ready to relax at mealtimes
Reminder phrase: “Breakfast/lunch/dinner was stressful”
3. Even though I hated eating at the table with my family [or other person/s], the truth is, that was the past and it’s over
Reminder phrase: “hated eating at the table with my family”
4. Even though I was always scared at mealtimes, I am safe now
Reminder phrase: “always scared at mealtimes”
5. Even though I start to feel anxious around dinner time [or other meal], it’s okay to relax at meal time.
Reminder phrase: “dinner [or lunch or breakfast] anxiety”
6. Even though I always felt nervous eating lunch in the school cafeteria, I can find ways to deal with this/I’m no longer in school so I choose to let go of this tension.
Reminder phrase: “nervous in the cafeteria”
7. Even though I can’t stand the smell of _______________, the truth is, it’s only a smell and doesn’t mean anything
Reminder phrase: “I can’t stand the smell of _________”
8. Even though the sight / sound / smell of ____________reminds me of my childhood dinners [or other meal], I’m no longer a child and I choose to release this memory from all levels of my being.
Reminder phrase: “that smell / sight / sound of ___________”
Again, you can use these Affirmations as a third round, if you wish.
EB: what if it could be different?
Take a deep breath and relax after tapping. Once you have tapped on some of these eating experiences and their associated emotions, you will likely find that you can relax more around food and eating as the old, unconscious memories are no longer triggered.
Please email us with your questions, comments and feedback. We’re here to support you.
Good health to you always!
Karen & Kathy
Karen Alison and Kathy Raymond