For whatever reason, your family, or at least some of them, ‘eat funny,’ that is, different from the norm. How do you handle that when invited to somebody else’s home?
This kind of depends on your reasons for eating differently- most people can understand and respect a genuine food allergy- like nuts, or having celiac disease People are less respectful, in general, of food preferences or even convictions, especially if they are inconvenient to the hostess, or if, for whatever reason, they come across as self-righteous. Sometimes that isn’t fair, sometimes we do have a bit of a superior attitude about our food changes. When we’re the odd ones out, I think we just have to expect that sometimes this is frustrating to others, and we need to accept that reality and be as gracious as we can about it, bending over a little more backward to make up for our quirky ways.
We have a child who is allergic to wheat, corn, and eggs. The results of her having these foods are not life-threatening, but they are utterly unpleasant for those of us around her. Since wheat makes her downright mean and spiteful, I have inferred that it must make her feel pretty awful, since she’s usually a friendly, happy child.. However, even when a host/hostess does accept this with good grace, that doesn’t meant they know enough to avoid all the off limit foods. After all, it took me years to figure it all out.
I’ve had somebody try to give my wheat-allergic child regular pasta because it only had ‘semolina wheat’ in it. A bookstore employee offered us vanilla wafers at an event, saying they had no wheat, only flour. And almost nobody knows all the forms that corn takes to hide in your food unless they have to deal with the same allergy.
Anybody can make a mistake. I once invited friends over who try to eat kosher and who were also avoiding regular wheat. I thought very carefully about the menu, worked hard at finding food we could afford that everybody could eat, made biscuits from Kamut flour especially for them- and at the last minute without thinking used lard for the fat in the biscuits. I didn’t even know that lard is always from pigs. So, oops. Anybody can make such a mistake and I don’t think it’s fair to burden hosts with the responsibility.
So when we are invited over to somebody’s house for a meal, I just make the Cherub her own food to eat. I don’t ask ahead of time, I just bring it. If there is food there she can have, well and good. Otherwise, we fall back on:
Baked potato (reheated, if possible, in their microwave), with cottage cheese and dill.
Rice cakes with cheese or natural peanut butter
Salads with dressing we bring from home
Any leftovers from our home-meals that she can eat, which we reheat there.
Annie Chun’s Seaweed Snacks, Roasted Sesame and cooked rice from home.
Sometimes our hostess will ask in advance if we have any special dietary needs, and then I will inform them that I am bringing the Cherub’s food. I am firm about this- smiling, but very firm. It’s just too much trouble for them to try to figure out how to feed everybody a wheat, corn, and egg free meal, and it’s too much trouble for us if they make a mistake- and too embarrassing and too much of a burden to place on others.
If more than one of your family has special food needs, you can explain that to the host and volunteer to bring a dish to share that your family members with complicated diets can also share.
Depending on which of you it is, you can also stash some snacks in the car or in your purse so that if the only thing served that you can eat is a vegetable side dish of your least favorite veggies, you can stave off starvation with your secret snack.
That’s how we handle it. What about you?
Mama Squirrel shared a link to this post on dealing with food sensitivities and how hard this can be for the family. And the Common Room said, “AMEN.”
The need to read labels every single time? Yes. SO tedious and frustrating (and now really hard on my 50 year old eyes), and yet, so necessary because companies are tricksie.
The granola bar we’ve been buying the Cherub for years recently began adding corn meal, which I discovered AFTER the Cherub had her nasty reaction to corn- it is thankfully not life threatening, but she has loud and continuous belches that smell much worse than raw sewage, worse than any o’benjo ditch, to those of you who lived where benjo ditches are. It’s not fun for anybody near her, and it really can’t feel very good to have your stomach full of those gasses.