REAL, FRUGAL, HEALTHY, and FUN!!!
Oddball. Yep, I’ve been called that a time or two. Weird. Health Nut. I’ve been called a few things. Never rudely. I’m very thankful for that. Most people don’t find my healthy eating offensive… just different from what they’re used to. For example, I remember going to a birthday party for one my little guy’s classmates. They were serving Domino’s pepperoni pizza and a Wal-Mart birthday cake. Typical birthday party food. I didn’t have any. I’d planned for the scenario that there might not be anything there that I would eat, so I’d eaten before the party. I got a few confused looks. The parents asked if I wanted any pizza or cake. I told them I eat very clean because I feel better when I do. This was before I knew I had celiac, but already, I knew certain foods upset my stomach and my digestive process. They told me they don’t normally eat cake and pizza either, but that this was a birthday party. It seemed they were trying to hint that because it was a special occasion, you were supposed to forget about healthy eating and should partake of Wal-Mart cake and Domino’s pizza. I did my best to change the subject and take their minds off the fact that I wasn’t going to give in.
It seems, the easiest food situations are with really close friends and family. At least they are aware of your diet. Some are perhaps more supportive than others, but the preexisting awareness is helpful. Not everyone is as understanding. All of my life I’ve been allergic to peanuts. Nobody messes with that one. In fact, if you mention a peanut allergy, a lot of people panic and double check that there are no peanuts around. Eating for overall health is something that some people will support and encourage, and others might really disapprove – for whatever reason. I think people feel like if a meal is prepared and you’re not eating it does not meet your “healthy criteria” then you must think you’re better than everyone, or you must be ungrateful. Now, since being diagnosed with celiac, I find people see that in an in-between kind of way. Some people go out of their way to accommodate me with gluten-free foods. Other people aren’t as familiar with celiac. They don’t understand it’s a real thing. They really don’t know how to approach it. Eating with a lot of people is always interesting.
Casual settings are easier to deal with than formal settings. For example, I have a military ball in just a few weeks. It’s very formal. The girls all wear gowns and the guys wear their dress blues or a tuxedo. The meals are all catered. There are speeches. Like I said, it is very formal. You can’t just eat before you go. You can’t just pack a sandwich.
If you have dietary restrictions, whether for overall health, disease, allergy, or intolerance, you may have experienced anxiety on some level, knowing you had some type of food gathering to attend. Will there be something you can eat? Will they be offended if you don’t eat their food? Should you bring your own food? Will they be offended if you bring your own food?
Here are some tips to be a gracious guest, even with dietary restrictions:
Your diet doesn’t define you. When you receive an invitation, it is because someone thought of you, and wanted you to attend. Attend! Smile, and enjoy yourself. Worst case scenario, you can grab something to eat on the way home. If you are friendly, polite, and kind, nobody will think you’re a prude. Enjoy yourself!