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Navigating the Tricky Waters of the Dinner Party

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  • Navigating the Tricky Waters of the Dinner Party

    My brother and I were having this discussion today: When visiting family (or friends) how do you navagiate the tricky waters of the dinner party? He thinks that it's better to blow your diet than deny the hospitality of your hosts. That's the very reason I stopped being a vegetarian all those years ago.

    Thing is, I always get so worn out when I travel and now that I've stopped eating gluten all together and severely restrict my grains, I find that when I do eat grains I feel horrible. (I ate some risotto the other night and felt like I got hit by a truck the next day, for example.) I don't like the idea of going on a trip, which is already stressful, and then getting sick because of what I eat. On the other hand, I don't want to be that annoying family member who won't eat this thing or that.

    *sigh*

    How do you navigate the dinner party? Or your sweet old Granny offering you a plate of homemade blueberry muffins?
    Last edited by Unshod Sarah; 07-18-2011, 06:28 PM.
    Woman, Artist, Wife, Visionary, Mother, Gardener, Daughter, Tea-drinker, Friend, Believer.

  • #2
    Parties and restaurants? No problem!

    My mom's house? Yeah, that can be a problem. She's very much into whole grains and low-fat everything. And she's happiest when she makes you a sandwich for lunch with brownies for dessert.

    Last time I solved it by spending a lot of time with her, but staying at a hotel. We used the excuse that The Boyfriend and I didn't want to be living in sin at her house. Just being respectful, you know.

    I've already got problems with sulfites (anything cooked or marinated in wine), sodium nitrite (pretty much processed/preserved meat) and she's seen me do Atkins years ago, so she is used to me saying "Eat whatever you want and I'll find something for myself".

    If you are open about it, and also open to finding your own food to eat without expecting anyone to go out of their way for you, it usually works out just fine. If people ask, you can explain that you realized gluten was causing you problems. They might ask more questions, or they might not. Go with whatever curiosity level they have, but make sure you act matter of fact.

    With my mom, it's a lot easier now than it used to be. I just tell her I'm trying to avoid the huge number of gastric issue that she and my brother have had over the years.
    Durp.

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    • #3
      If you have a food intolerance or react badly to grains (which it seems like you do), I think it's totally valid to say so.

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      • #4
        It's hard, b/c if you say you do poorly with grains, they find you some gluten-free brownies, and then you either feel bad b/c you have to explain why you can't eat them, or you feel bad b/c you ate them.

        If there's any way for me to bring something to complement the meal, I'll do it, and try to make sure I can find enough meat and veggies, going easy on anything else. If not, I'll eat sufficient protein before I go (or maybe even a full meal), push things around and eat some bites while there, and just enjoy focusing on the social occasion. If it's someone who I think is open to hearing what I'm doing, I might explain it if asked; otherwise I'll just try to make what I'm doing completely non-obvious so I won't have to get into the details with anyone.

        Hardest is staying a while with others. It's just hard for folks to wrap their brains around "no grains, no sugar," so I just say I'm doing low-carb and avoiding processed foods (so I don't get offered "low-carb" pasta! although that's no guarantee, sadly).
        5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
        Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
        Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
        Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
        ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***

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        • #5
          stand up for yourself no matter where you are. your health is more important then their feelings
          Primal Chaos
          37yo 6'5"
          6-19-2011 393lbs 60" waist
          current 338lbs 49" waist
          goal 240lbs 35" waist

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          • #6
            Caring for your body and caring for your friends/family = not mutually exclusive.
            5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
            Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
            Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
            Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
            ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***

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            • #7
              I always eat a full meal before I go . . . makes the gluten-free brownies less tempting! Although, maybe I'm lucky, but it's rare for someone to care or even notice what I'm eating. I always wonder why anybody would pay any attention at all to what anybody else is eating or not eating. . . . but I'm always ready and willing to politely decline. I don't feel compelled to offer any explanation other than "no, thank you very much."

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              • #8
                I eat enough of everything to be polite and not "weird". I have larger helpings of the meat and veggies, with small portions of starch, grains. If it feels acceptable to refuse dessert, and I feel like refusing, I do. Otherwise I enjoy with thanks and savour every bite. Meals as a guest make up mostly my 20% off plan foods.

                Doesn't seem to harm me too much, except for an upset tummy once in a while, but nothing serious.

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                • #9
                  It sure sounds like it's beyond being a picky (or in your words, "annoying") family member: when you eat certain foods you have health problems. Traveling is already stressful enough to you; why voluntarily add to that by eating things that will make you sick? I would think that your family would understand and support your choice to eat in a way that's healthy for you.

                  Yeah, you might need to tell sweet ol' granny that her blueberry muffins that used to be your favorite are no longer on your menu, but again, even if she doesn't understand the science behind it, she probably cares enough about your health to accept your choice. And if she doesn't, I wouldn't make a huge issue out of the situation—move the conversation along in a different direction.
                  “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

                  My primal journal

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Unshod Sarah View Post
                    My brother and I were having this discussion today: When visiting family (or friends) how do you navagiate the tricky waters of the dinner party? He thinks that it's better to blow your diet than deny the hospitality of your hosts. That's the very reason I stopped being a vegetarian all those years ago.
                    I stick to my guns, and it may feel pretty selfish, but at the end of the day I frame it like this: Do my family and friends want me there, feeling good and ready for whatever, or have me there bitching and moaning because I'm sick and sore?

                    Just hosted my own dinner last night, and it was much easier than I expected, as I invited two other primal eaters. I figure hosting anything pot luck style will be more difficult than going to friends or family.
                    My Fitday public journal.
                    Me vs. Russian Boar, hunt is on Aug. 20th. WHAT'S MORE PRIMAL THAN THAT?!
                    Recently survived Warrior Dash, New England.
                    Game Developer, ex-Chef, long time Fatbody.

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                    • #11
                      It depends on how you close you are with the people you might be staying with/visiting, but I can usually find a way to work it in. For instance, some friends of mine know I try to avoid grains/sugar, but when I'm eating with them sometimes I do as part of my 20% (although I don't explain it that specifically) so when I was over and they were frying catfish in cornmeal, I asked if they could fry mine without corn. We also happened to grocery shop together for the meal, so when she got potatoes for baking, I grabbed a sweet potato instead.

                      I also find frequently people ask ahead of time "I'm planning to make xyz, is that ok?" or ask "anything you don't care for?" and I can squeeze something in, y'know?

                      You could also just share your recent observation that you feel a lot better when you avoid grains and sugar and stick to whole foods. They'll probably ask how to accomodate you, and you can say something like "just so long as there's some meat and some fruit or veggies, I'll be fine. Don't do anything special for me!" and it will probably be fine.

                      Good luck however you navigate the waters

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                      • #12
                        An option is also to not go if it is causing you that much stress. I realize, it may not be practical. But, I can purposely arrive after dinner. I skip luncheons at work to avoid appearing "weird". And if I can, I explain the situation and generally, people are understanding. It is hardest with Mom for sure, but I make it work somehow. If either of my Grandmothers were still around...well, that could be ugly.

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                        • #13
                          I've recently incorporated some of the "bad carbs" into my life again. I did not want to become sick when faced with no other alternatives. As a military member I find myself in situations where I can only have what is available. I need to ensure my body can tolerate a wider range of what is normally considered food. I am picky when faced with choices, but ensure that once or twice a week, I allow myself some grains and dairy.

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                          • #14
                            When you are invited do they not ask if you have any food issues? Most people have something they can't eat these days. It sounds as if you really do have an issue so why hide it?

                            If you sit there eating pasta and then mention in conversation that you are intolerant to grains they are going to 1- wonder why you didn't tell them before and 2- if you are lying.

                            Flip it round and think - if your cousin came to stay and ate pasta and the next day felt sick and then told you that they knew pasta makes them ill... wouldn't you be wanting to know why they didn't tell you so you could make them something different?

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