person overwhelmed by people overing chips and soda

PSA: You Are Not A Bad Person If You Have Your Triggers

Hello, everyone! I hope you’ve all been staying safe and healthy and having a happy and healthy 2021! For today’s episode of “Selina’s Random Hidradenitis Thoughts and Oddities,” I thought I would discuss triggers and how you are not a bad person if you indulge in them. Triggers, aka the objects that can cause outbreaks and flares, can be certain foods, drinks, cigarettes, alcohol, stress, depression, anxiety, lotions, etc. Really fun, right? And do you want to know the most fun part? Everybody that has HS has different triggers and not one rule fits all! Now doesn’t that make life easy? Yeah, NOT!

Some of the most common Hidradenitis Suppurativa triggers are also society’s most common foods and drinks (not to mention my own personal favorites). From my own experience, many times that I’ve gone to someone else’s house, I’ve been offered chips, pretzels, pizza, cookies, pasta, soda, juice, etc. You know, common and yummy foods that most people enjoy having. However, all these things are my triggers (gluten and processed sugar) and will potentially send my body into a tizzy.

Now you may be thinking, “If these things can cause you flares and pain and sadness, why would you ever have them?” Well, let me tell you!


I will be perfectly honest with you; In my 26 years of life, I have never been offered a bowl of dried kale chips instead of a bowl of potato chips when visiting a friend’s house or attending a party. Let’s be real - not many people will offer healthy options like kale chips and lemon water instead of potato chips and soda. It’s just the truth.

Not only are healthier options more expensive, but sometimes they’re harder to find in a local grocery store. (Or just look online on Amazon, a 2 pack of kale chip is $14.99 while a 40 pack of potato chips is $13.59.) Sometimes, it’s truly just more convenient for people to get the triggers instead of the healthy options.

It's the only option available and I don’t want to be rude

This one is sort of a piggyback off of convenience. Sometimes triggers are the most convenient option because they’re the only options available and I don’t want to make a fuss about my diet restrictions. Maybe it’s me being shy, but a lot of the time I don’t want to draw attention to my illness and diet restrictions and sometimes it’s just easier to have the trigger.

One time I was at a baby shower and every item on the menu was either breaded or had some form of gluten involved. At a sit-down dinner function where the host is literally paying for my seat and plate, it’s not like I can rudely decline the only options given to me, and frankly, I don’t want to draw attention to my restrictions by asking everything to be modified. Sometimes it’s just easier to eat the bowl of penne al vodka and hope for the best.

Everyone else around me is having it, why can’t I?

I know what you’re thinking. It sounds like when your parents would be all like, “Well if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” And my response to that is:

  1. It’s not a bridge, it’s a potato chip.
  2. No, I’m not going to jump off a bridge and would never, even if Alyssa, Brendan, and Sal decided to do so.
  3. Just give me the damn potato chip.

But in all seriousness, nothing makes me feel more alienated than when everyone else around me is doing something I can’t. If everyone around me is eating pizza and potato chips and pasta and ice cream and I can’t, there’s no way I won’t feel left out and start feeling sad and bitter over my Hidradenitis.

When I start feeling sad and bitter, I get anxious. When I get anxiety, I get flares. So either way, there’s a chance I’ll get a flare from this situation and I think I’d rather get it from indulging in a potato chip than having anxiety and being sad. Call me crazy, but here we are.

So please remember, you are not a bad person if you have your triggers sometimes. Is it best to try and avoid them? Of course. Is it not always the easiest to do so? You know it.

And hey! If you want to try and ignore those triggers, you can always BYOK: Bring Your Own Kale.

Listening To:

  • HandClap by Fitz and The Tantrums
  • High Hopes by Panic! At The Disco
  • Rise by Jonas Blue feat. Jack & Jack
  • Higher Ground by Red Hot Chili Peppers

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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