Food Allergies, Intolerances... and Eating Disorders?

I think there's an issue that needs to be discussed when it comes to food allergies, intolerances... and eating disorders?

Ever since I was in high school I have had IBS. I was diagnosed by a doctor, learned it was primarily caused by anxiety, and adjusted my lifestyle accordingly. Although my IBS was anxiety derived when I first figured out I had it, I realized it could also be triggered by different food groups - onions, mint, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, spicy food etc etc etc.

For years and years I've dealt with all the symptoms that come with IBS and food intolerances. I have horrible bloating that makes my stomach protrude like I'm pregnant, awful lower back pain that makes it hard to even sit still, excruciating migraines that knock me off my feet, stomach cramps... the list goes on. These symptoms aren't daily, but when I eat too much of a "trigger food" they're pretty horrible. I have altered my diet in response, but I'm also not depriving myself of food I love! I will take precautionary measures when I know I'm eating something that might make me feel bad, such as carrying around migraine relief pills and probiotics... but I still enjoy myself and I know that if I eat these things I am making a bed that I will later lye in. I won't turn down a big bowl of queso or a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice-cream... anyone that knows me well can vouch to that!

The thing that I want to discuss is the issue of covering up an eating disorder with an imaginary or non-life-threatening  "intolerance or allergy." I have read so many articles on this topic lately. Fake food allergies and intolerances are now comparable to anorexia or bulimia. It's actually pretty scary, and very common!

These so called "valid excuses" can give people an easy cover up. When people suffering from this disorder are out with friends and family they can avoid the nachos, chips, or whatever is served by saying "Oh I have a serious dairy allergy" or "I have an alcohol inolterance that makes me feel awful" ...but do you really? I can list at least 4 girls I'm close with that do this regularly and it is taking a toll on their life. Real food allergies are serious. They make people break out in hives, they cause throat swelling and can cut off someones breathing and they can even send you to the hospital. There is a significant difference between not eating a piece of garlic bread because you're "allergic or intolerant" and not eating it because you just don't want the calories. If you're sitting at a restaurant listing off everything you're allergic to, just because you don't want to feel bloated later and workout a little harder in the morning... think again.

If you DO have an intolerance, I am not calling you a liar. I promise, I get that "I don't know if I believe you" look from people too! You will be fine in moderation, I'm sure of it. Find out the perfect formula for your ideal digestion! What sets you off the most? For me it's gluten! I've been gluten free for 4 years now, and even a mini milky way will make my stomach blow up. But a little dairy won't kill me! I can eat some cheese or have a tiny bit of milk, and the side effects will definitely be tolerable... and it's so delicious and totally worth it.

Let's encourage each other to focus on fueling our bodies with heaps of healthy foods and vegetables... but also treat ourselves and indulge in life's little joys. Eat that big, chocolatey brownie. Scoop up that giant nacho packed with cheese and peppers. Stick that spoon in that decadent gallon of rocky road! If you're allergic, please don't eat it. But if you're calling yourself intolerant or allergic just to avoid the questions and calorie content, you're headed down a dangerous path.