Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: mj on November 25, 2012, 03:51:53 PM

Title: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: mj on November 25, 2012, 03:51:53 PM
I've recently had medical problems that require a very extreme diet change.  Very extreme.  Listing the things I can't eat is far too long, the list that I can eat is much shorter.  Since this has happened I've tried explaining to friends and family and they have a hard time wrapping their head around it, which is fine and understandable.  I even sometimes can be confused (I'm still learning) of the approved food items.  A lot of what is a huge NO is in sneaky items like sauces, dressings etc.  And in my neck of the woods, no one wants to eat what I can eat. 

So I'm wondering, to make it easier on everyone and my hosts (cause I still really want to accept invites and go places!) could I bring my own food to gatherings?  I've never encountered this before, I only know of people who have a few restrictions and my restrictions are way too much for anyone in my surroundings.

Anyone else in a similar boat and any tips to make it work?
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: gramma dishes on November 25, 2012, 04:10:03 PM
No tips, but I think a brief explanation that there are extreme extreme restrictions (and that they are truly medical, not whimsical) and suggesting that you bring your own food so that you can still be a participant in the event is fine. 

The important thing is that you want to spend time with these people and that you don't want your medical condition to cause anyone else to have to jump through hoops to accommodate your food needs and that's, I think, the idea you want to convey.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: Luci on November 25, 2012, 04:33:29 PM
I am so accustomed to one group with extreme allergies bringing their food that I wouldn't even notice. I tried very hard to cook for them myself that I just gave up.

Please just tell them that you must do this. I don't even think you have to share. It doesn't sound like your meal would be appealing to to anyone anyway.

Every once in a while someone in that group will bring gluton-free cookies to share or an herb flavored rice dish, but that is all.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: cattlekid on November 25, 2012, 04:48:27 PM
I've been living with a very restrictive diet for the last two years.  Like you, the list of what I can eat is shorter than the list of what I cannot eat.  When people ask me what I eat, I tell them "tree bark and water".   ::) 

But on a more serious note, I don't bother with bringing my own food.  Even though I have a long list of what I shouldn't have, none of it (with the exception of starfruit) is life-threatening.  Therefore, if I absolutely CANNOT find something that doesn't have one of the forbidden items in it, I'll either work around it if I can or take an extremely small serving and eat later.   I also always ask if I can bring something.  That way, I will know that there is at least one dish that I can eat with abandon.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: SiotehCat on November 25, 2012, 05:42:33 PM
My DH eats a very strict diet that he absolutely cannot modify in any way.

When invited for dinner, he eats before or after and just spends the time doing a lot of socializing.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: Luci on November 25, 2012, 08:16:16 PM
My DH eats a very strict diet that he absolutely cannot modify in any way.

When invited for dinner, he eats before or after and just spends the time doing a lot of socializing.

It makes me very uncomfortable to be eating a meal and having someone just sitting there with a glass of water. I much prefer my guests bring out the plastic containers and eat with us.

You have my sympathy, though. I have seen what hoops my sister-in-law has to go through for her family. She just loves to come here for dinner to get 'real food', after she has cooked and packed for her family, probably putting in as much effort as I do as hostess. They live 2 hours away, so wouldl still end up eating pack food in the car if not with us.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: SiotehCat on November 25, 2012, 08:45:00 PM
My DH eats a very strict diet that he absolutely cannot modify in any way.

When invited for dinner, he eats before or after and just spends the time doing a lot of socializing.

It makes me very uncomfortable to be eating a meal and having someone just sitting there with a glass of water. I much prefer my guests bring out the plastic containers and eat with us.

You have my sympathy, though. I have seen what hoops my sister-in-law has to go through for her family. She just loves to come here for dinner to get 'real food', after she has cooked and packed for her family, probably putting in as much effort as I do as hostess. They live 2 hours away, so wouldl still end up eating pack food in the car if not with us.

And that's fine too. We think its insulting to our hostess for him to bring his own food. The majority of the meal is about the socializing, so it doesn't seem that weird that he's not eating.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: oz diva on November 25, 2012, 08:56:12 PM
I would be fine if someone bought their own food. In fact it would make life so much easier. If I were you, I'd let your host know beforehand though. Otherwise they may go to a great deal of trouble preparing something you can eat.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: WillyNilly on November 25, 2012, 10:46:05 PM
I think bringing food is fine, but just have a chat with your hosts before hand.  And if someone wants to make you something and they communicate they understand your restrictions, if you trust them, let them.  If I invite someone over I really don't mind making brand X grain in distilled water or pulverized seeds, or whatever weird thing.  No I don't want to cook it or eat it every day, but if I invite my friend over for a meal, really its not so difficult to make at least a dish or two that's acceptable to them just that one day.  I once hosted a dinner for 8 that had enough options for a full meal for a vegetarian, a person with Candida, and a lactose intolerant person.  I wouldn't eat all those options regularly but honestly everyone could enjoy almost everything and it wasn't a huge deal to me to make a special meal, because it was a dinner party - I was going to make a special meal to begin with! So I just made the most special versions of the restricted foods (for example, if you constantly stir a grain while cooking it, it gets a creamier texture without any additives - its the 'special way' to make plain rice/millet/quinoa/whatever) and planned around it.

But if someone doesn't offer or can't be trusted to get it rice, feel free to bring a dish.  Just wait a minute or two, to make sure you can't have anything there, and just discreetly pull out a tupperware.  Best if its discreetly done, no big production and if asked just smile and say "oh my gosh I'm on this crazy diet so I can never enjoy anything out, it looks great but for now, this is me" with a bit of a shrug and a conversation topic ready to spring "but anyway, weren't you saying something about vacation earlier?  Tell me more." If you act casual, people will respond casually.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: Deetee on November 26, 2012, 12:07:44 AM
Just bring your own food and tell the host it's a medical diet. I am pretty good at accommodating various restrictions ( vvegetarian. Vegan, Muslim, etc.. ) but I prefer to cook something similar for everyone and I am not comfortable with allergies or anything where an inadvertent error could make someone ill.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: mmswm on November 26, 2012, 12:44:55 AM
I don't have a long list of things I can't eat, but I do have one extremely severe food allergy.  Even skin contact with a small amount of anything with tomato in it can cause an anaphylaxis reaction. I've had multiple cross-contamination reactions when I ate things that had been prepared around tomatoes and a tiny bit got into my food.  One time, I wound up in the hospital when a food service worker used the same gloves to make my food as he did to make a previous customer's food, and that food had tomato slices on it.  I've never had an issue with people allowing me to bring my own food or simply enjoying a beverage while everybody else ate.  I've never met anybody who hasn't been understanding of medical issues.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: strangetimes on November 26, 2012, 04:59:45 PM
My husband has a super-crazy, restrictive medical diet. He's been on this diet for over 12 years now and he finds that people prefer if he brings his own food along.

According to him, people tend to be very uncomfortable if a guest is sitting at the table without eating- it makes them feel bad.

If it's just a drop-in type of gathering, he tries to socialize in such a way that it's not obvious he's not eating.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: QueenfaninCA on November 26, 2012, 05:11:51 PM
If I were your host, I'd like you to talk to me about your restrictions. I'd try to come up with a plan that you might be able to at least eat some of the food I'm preparing but if i is really too complicated/restrictiv/ I'd have no issue with you bringing food (I'd be happy to heat it for you) as I think that's vastly preferable than you eating before or after the gathering and just nursing a glass of water while everyone else digs in.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: Lynn2000 on November 26, 2012, 09:32:12 PM
I POD the idea of talking to each host individually. It's not really fun to have to discuss your medical issues with lots of people, especially those who just don't really "get" it, but I think that's the only way you can find out which option the host prefers: trying to accommodate you, having you bring your own food, having you basically not eat at the gathering.

The other option is to try and arrange social events that don't really involve food, like going to the park in the afternoon instead of meeting somewhere for lunch.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: AliciaLynette on November 27, 2012, 04:02:29 AM
If I were your host, I'd like you to talk to me about your restrictions. I'd try to come up with a plan that you might be able to at least eat some of the food I'm preparing but if i is really too complicated/restrictiv/ I'd have no issue with you bringing food (I'd be happy to heat it for you) as I think that's vastly preferable than you eating before or after the gathering and just nursing a glass of water while everyone else digs in.

I concur with this, since I'd feel a little 'mean' making you bring your own food, but I do recognise that it may not be possible for me to make something that you would eat along with everybody else.  And you just having a glass of water whilst everyone else was eating heartily would make me cringe as a host.  It seems (to my hostess-y senses) like I'm pushing you out by not having food you can eat!

And, honestly, if the host makes a fuss about you not eating/bringing your own when you've clearly explained that you have medically required dietary restrictions, then a) they're not being a gracious host and b) if I were you, I wouldn't be attending any meals/parties at theirs again!
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: cicero on November 27, 2012, 04:19:41 AM
because this is so extreme, and hosts - as much as they would want to do the right thing - might end up inadvertently serving something you can't have, I agree with PPs who suggest first talking to the hosts and then bringing your food

I've been in situations where I couldn't eat *a* dish so i just skipped it, but a whole rigid eating regime is a different story.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: Winterlight on November 27, 2012, 10:25:17 AM
I'd be fine with you bringing your own food. There are things I just can't make without some practice, and some I can't make at all, and I'd much rather not make you sick.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: mj on November 27, 2012, 10:29:57 AM
Thanks all.

My diet cannot be modified at all, so taking a little is out of the question.  I understand how extreme it is for hosts.  Which makes me a tad nervous because even if they do seem to get it, I've had two different situations now where I saw something that made me question what was in it/how it was prepared and came to find out, nope I can't eat that!  I also feel bad questioning but I didn't know what else to do, I really cannot eat it at all.

I think I'll probably take food when hosts will let me.  Since the diet is "tree bark and water" (I love that description, cattlekid and hope you don't mind me using it!) I find I have to eat a lot more often.  I will probably have to decline eating invites with hosts who won't let me bring food and do something else instead with them.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: Roe on December 06, 2012, 02:19:21 PM
As a host, I'd much prefer you bring your own food instead of sitting there with only a beverage.  Definitely talk to the host.  I'm sure it will calm their nerves if you just go ahead and bring your own food.  I'm often super nervous about cross contamination when cooking for those with food allergies.  I would jump at the chance for them to bring their own food.  Of couse, everyone is different.
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: NyaChan on December 06, 2012, 02:23:05 PM
Thanks all.

My diet cannot be modified at all, so taking a little is out of the question.  I understand how extreme it is for hosts.  Which makes me a tad nervous because even if they do seem to get it, I've had two different situations now where I saw something that made me question what was in it/how it was prepared and came to find out, nope I can't eat that!  I also feel bad questioning but I didn't know what else to do, I really cannot eat it at all.

I think I'll probably take food when hosts will let me.  Since the diet is "tree bark and water" (I love that description, cattlekid and hope you don't mind me using it!) I find I have to eat a lot more often.  I will probably have to decline eating invites with hosts who won't let me bring food and do something else instead with them.

I think your best bet is that when you get the invite, go ahead and say - "I would love to come and spend time with you, however, with my medical diet being so strict, I would need to bring food for myself.  Will that be a problem?" 
Title: Re: Extreme dietary restrictions
Post by: Specky on December 09, 2012, 10:16:17 AM
After being told several times, "Oh, there is no need for you to bring food and I really want you to eat  with the rest of us, besides, I'm sure a little bit of XXXX won't hurt you."  I no longer accept invitations that involve a meal.  Safer.