#Dining out at a friend’s home can be especially awkward, where the host of the party can be easily offended if you don’t partake in their personally prepared, high-calorie, high-fat foods. “Offering explanations seems to get you in deeper trouble rather than helping the situation,” says Mara Vitolins, DrPH, MPH, RD, of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “I don’t know if this is because the host wishes he/she ate a healthier diet (diet envy), or if they are offended that the #food offered doesn’t fit the guest’s food requirements (the picky guest syndrome). Regardless of the reason, it makes all involved very uncomfortable.”
Are healthy eaters destined for a life of dining alone? Certainly not. But you may have to be a bit pioneer at times. As a result, I try to make sure that the #restaurants I frequent and the #social events I attend serve food in a style and fashion that complement my weight-conscious mindset.
So what are some of the techniques we can apply to maintain our friendships and social interactions — without feeling restricted and embarrassed by the new food choices we’re making?
DO A BACKGROUND CHECK
If someone else makes the plans, a few well-placed phone calls in advance can reveal a lot about a restaurant — you can explain your dietary needs and ask what options are available. It’s good to call ahead, so that you’re not making a “scene” at the dinner table. Most restaurants can accommodate almost any kind of dietary needs. It can also impress your friends and family if you walk into the restaurant and the staff already knows what you’re #eating — as if you’re a “regular.”
PICK THE PLACE
If you’re usually not comfortable with the restaurant selected by others, then offer to pick the place yourself. Keep in mind that it helps to have already done some advance work to find a healthier restaurant choice. Try to offer several options and a variety of cuisines to your potential dining companions.
If you’re invited to someone’s house or to a party, bring a low-calorie, low-fat dessert or food option (e.g., vegetable plate or fruit salad). Your host will see it as gracious, and you will have avoided a potential food disaster.
I know that this sounds a bit off-the-wall, but if you eat before going to a major event (e.g., wedding or birthday party), you can avoid eating high-calorie and high-fat foods. Frequently at these events, the main course is not served until well after you’ve arrived — which means you can easily become ravenous by this time, and end up eating anything and everything. I’ve even been known to eat before going out to lunch or dinner, just to take the edge off — this way, I don’t end up eating a big basket of bread.
JUST TELL THEM
If you are going to someone’s house for dinner (or even a restaurant), you can tell your host that you have a medically restricted diet and that you can only eat certain foods. I’ve found that using the phrase “medical” quells questions — and most are happy to oblige.
GIVE THEM NOTICE
It can help to talk to your family and friends about the healthy food changes you are making and gain their support. The idea is not to have them police your behavior, but to empower you by being enthusiastic and supportive of your new way of life.