Etiquette Hell

Hostesses With The Mostest => Entertaining and Hospitality => Topic started by: Dragonflymom on September 24, 2013, 09:28:59 AM

Title: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Dragonflymom on September 24, 2013, 09:28:59 AM
I have been hosting a few friends for a weekly girls night in my home for about the last year and a half.  Once in awhile another friend will host but about 95% of the time it's me hosting.  Once in awhile other people will bring food, but it's pretty rare, so I'd say I'm also doing about 95% of the cooking for these gatherings.

One friend, Emily, was diagnosed with diabetes last fall.  Since then, she has gone on an extreme low carb diet, and often rants to me online about carbs in foods, and even about her roommate's eating habits.  I know you need to take my word for it but she is generally a very nice person other than her issues with food.

Before her diagnosis, girls night used to be very enjoyable.  We would often experiment with different recipes together out of my different middle eastern and medieval cookbooks as both of us share an interest in cooking and medieval reenactment.  Now I walk on eggshells about cooking, as sometimes even mostly healthy foods will have her standing over the stove muttering to herself "too many carbs, too many carbs".

At one point last winter, I had a box of chocolate truffles sitting on the counter that I'd purchased for my family.  I hadn't even served them they were just sitting there, but she knows that all the food I put out on the counter is fair game for whoever when people come over.  So she decided to eat one.  Then gave herself a panic attack about eating it and I had to deal with tears and freaking out for the next half hour.  (She has undiagnosed, untreated anxiety issues too and refuses to get counseling).

Since then I have completely stopped serving desserts at girls nights to try to accommodate her (she will only make sugar free desserts for herself, and will only make those in her home when she's hosting me even though artificial sweeteners aggravate my ulcer and I can't eat them)

Her diet is confusing to follow and accommodate.  Sometimes I will make what I assume is a fairly healthy meal  (scrambled eggs with veggies, serving naan bread on the side so she can choose to eat it or not), only to have her bring a bag of potato chips.  Several times I've gotten both regular pizza and thin crust to accommodate her needs, and she's eaten the thick crust.  So I assumed she was not doing the low carb thing so much anymore, and the last time she came over I made a very healthy, low fat, low calorie dish of fresh vegetables and some rice noodles.  Only to have her tell me "This is really carby Dragonflymom."  It almost made me cry.

Even before the diagnosis there was a long list from her of what she would and wouldn't eat, that I have been continuing to accommodate.
No mushrooms - her husband (who usually joins us for girls night) doesn't like them.
No fish - she doesn't like it.
No shrimp - her husband doesn't like them
No onions - she doesn't like them and I have to substitute more expensive leeks if the recipe calls for them
No walnuts or pecans - she doesn't like them, so again I have to substitute much more expensive pine nuts if the recipe calls for them
No sun dried tomatoes, dried fruits except dates and figs, or other foods with sulfates - she thinks they give her migraines but it's undiagnosed

I should probably include in here that my husband and I have our own medical/food issues too.  He's also diabetic, and his doctor recommended a low fat, high fiber diet for him.  I have an ulcer and high blood pressure, and my doctor recommended the same low fat, high fiber diet for me, and in addition I need to avoid acidic foods.  She seems to expect us to disregard our medical needs in order to accommodate the extreme diet that she's chose in order to cope with her medical issues.

I don't know how to handle hosting her going forward.  For now I'm stalling and told her that I'm having a hard time cooking a big dinner for everyone once a week in the few hours I've got between work and people coming over, and having a hard time working around food issues, so I'm only going to be able to host once a month.  She said this was fine, so I'm clear for awhile.

But I don't know how to handle this issue about the rude and negative comments about the food I serve in my home.  I keep waffling between hashing it out with her pre-emptively and telling her she hurt my feelings and her commentary was inappropriate and the polite way to handle food issues is to eat what you can and don't eat what you can't, or waiting til she does it again and having something prepared to say with her to shut this down.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: PastryGoddess on September 24, 2013, 09:36:46 AM
She needs to start bringing food she can eat.  You can invite her to leave if your hospitality is not up to her standards.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: amylouky on September 24, 2013, 09:44:29 AM
I think it's time girl's night became a potluck. Everyone brings their favorite dish, and worries about their own dietary restrictions.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: BarensMom on September 24, 2013, 09:46:11 AM
I stop inviting this ingrate to your home.  She has the gall to criticize your hospitality and your efforts to help her eat healthy, while stuffing herself with thick-crust pizza and potato chips - what a judgmental hypocrite!

Stop inviting her and I'll bet a buck that everyone else in your group will breathe a (secret) sigh of relief.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: menley on September 24, 2013, 09:47:16 AM
And she brings her husband to girls' night? ???
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Two Ravens on September 24, 2013, 09:50:44 AM
er diet is confusing to follow and accommodate.  Sometimes I will make what I assume is a fairly healthy meal  (scrambled eggs with veggies, serving naan bread on the side so she can choose to eat it or not), only to have her bring a bag of potato chips.  Several times I've gotten both regular pizza and thin crust to accommodate her needs, and she's eaten the thick crust.  So I assumed she was not doing the low carb thing so much anymore, and the last time she came over I made a very healthy, low fat, low calorie dish of fresh vegetables and some rice noodles.  Only to have her tell me "This is really carby Dragonflymom."  It almost made me cry.

Did you call her out on this? Ask her why she ate the deep dish pizza last time?

I think you are trying to hard to accommodate her. Prepare one hearty low-carb dish, and if she says anything, tell her, "Well, I made the [salad, porkchops, whatever] just for you."
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: lowspark on September 24, 2013, 09:53:41 AM
Wow. There's a lot going on here.
First thing is, why is her husband coming to girls' night? Do any other husbands come? How is it a girls' night if someone is bringing their husband?
2. No one should be dictating what you cook. You are cooking for these people every week, once a week and they have the nerve to give you a list of restrictions and requirements? No. Just no.

Here's what I would do. I'd quit accommodating them. As soon as I decided my menu each week, I'd send an email to the group letting them know what I was planning to make. I'd make it known that I was cooking what I wanted and that if that menu wasn't to anyone's satisfaction, that person was free to bring their own or to skip this week's meeting.

Honestly, this woman doesn't sound like someone I'd want to invite to dinner on a regular basis. If she's someone with whom I wanted to spend time because
Quote
she is generally a very nice person other than her issues with food
then I'd find another way to do it. And that other way would not involve food.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Zizi-K on September 24, 2013, 09:57:44 AM
Another option would be to make it clear in advance what you plan on cooking/serving, and suggesting that if she doesn't like it or if it doesn't fit with her dietary restrictions, then she's free to bring an alternative or food for herself. This includes dessert! It does not compute in my brain that there would be girls night without dessert. Please don't allow yourself to be held hostage when she is clearly not making the same accommodations for you.  And next time she says "that looks carby!", don't almost cry but take pride in your efforts. "Yes, it has some carbs, I hope you can enjoy it."
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Outdoor Girl on September 24, 2013, 10:07:02 AM
IF, and it is a big IF, you wish to continue to host this woman, I would send the menu out with the invite.  To everybody so she isn't singled out.  And I wouldn't make dishes I couldn't eat, either.

'The menu for girls' night is as follows:  ....  If you are unable to eat any or all of the items, please bring a dish for yourself that you can eat.'

And then tell her, when she complains, that you don't want to hear it anymore.  You are done trying to please her changing tastes.  You will always include good, nutritious food with an eye to at least one low carb dish but that you are no longer going to cater the menu to one person.  She can either eat what is provided or bring something for herself but you don't want to hear about it any more.

And if she is offended and doesn't come for a while?  Win Win, in my books.  A year is more than enough time to get a handle on what she can and cannot eat.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: cwm on September 24, 2013, 10:13:12 AM
Another option would be to make it clear in advance what you plan on cooking/serving, and suggesting that if she doesn't like it or if it doesn't fit with her dietary restrictions, then she's free to bring an alternative or food for herself. This includes dessert! It does not compute in my brain that there would be girls night without dessert. Please don't allow yourself to be held hostage when she is clearly not making the same accommodations for you.  And next time she says "that looks carby!", don't almost cry but take pride in your efforts. "Yes, it has some carbs, I hope you can enjoy it."

Also, if she copmlains, you can look at her with a confused face and say, "Did you not get my email? I sent it to everyone, I mentioned what I was cooking and said everyone was welcome to bring their own food if they didn't want to eat mine."

Your other option is to take your friend aside and tell her that it's really confusing to you when you try to make food that falls into what she has told you her dietary restrictions are and she chooses something else (mention the pizza or the chips) and then complains when something else doesn't fit within her dietary restrictions. Mention that she's always free to bring something that she will eat, or she can volunteer to cook for everyone, keeping everyone's dietary restrictions in mind.

Also, who brings their husband to a girls' night? That seems like it would defeat the purpose of girls' night...
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Bethalize on September 24, 2013, 10:13:29 AM
My! She does have you on the hop doesn't she? You've moved beyond accommodating and into enabling IMHO. What you have here is someone who is holding you to a higher standard than they hold themselves. You have to accommodate her, she doesn't have to accommodate you. You have to provide food that meets her needs, she doesn't have to do that for herself. That's not okay. Emily is an adult and needs to be responsible for her own food choices. What she's doing is dragging you into some rather unhealthy games. You need to disengage from this and stop letting her words have the power to hurt you. Emily's words are Emily's issues, not your issues and not your responsibility. She's getting attention and "poor you" validation from all this. Cut her off!

My advice is to tell her what you will be making and say "I completely understand if you want to bring something different for yourself." Then ignore her moaning and whining and snide comments. Don't change what you cook. Don't respond. Saying: "That's really carby" isn't insulting if it is a fact and you have no morality applied to food. The fact that it has some carbs is not the same thing as being "really carby" IMHO so she's obviously not talking from logic. Therefore don't engage. Treat her like a whiny six year old, ignore her when she's being tiresome and pay attention when she's good.  Your house, your rules.

You can't make life better for Emily. You can only give her a sensible framework within which to operate. If she can't manage that then it might be what provokes her to seek professional help.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: blue2000 on September 24, 2013, 11:13:10 AM
The one thing that keeps running through my head is a phrase from a lot of the food threads we have on here. "Don't yuck my yum." It sounds like Emily has way too many inappropriate comments about other people's food.

It shouldn't matter what she thinks of your food. She knows what kind of things you eat - it should not be such a surprise/panic situation if it isn't on her preferred list. I say go back to trying out recipes. Experiment. Have some fun with it again! She can be a gracious guest and just eat the part that she likes, or she can bring her own food.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Amara on September 24, 2013, 11:22:47 AM
I agree with the poster who said "potluck." It not only makes it easier (and more budget-friendly) to do that but puts the responsibility back on her to make a dish she definitely can eat. And the first moment she starts in whining I'd hold up my hand and say, "Stop. We all have various food issues and need to take responsibility for our own health."
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Lynn2000 on September 24, 2013, 11:45:48 AM
I have to admit, I did not get a very good impression of Emily from your description. She complains about the food you're serving her, is inconsistent and ungrateful when you're trying to accommodate her medical needs, refuses to take your needs into account when serving you, and brings her husband to girls' night. You and/or the others may have been okay with some of these things at first, but it sounds like they have gradually increased to the point where you don't actually look forward to having Emily over--instead you kind of dread it.

People have made some great suggestions, depending on the relationship you have with Emily.
1) Stop inviting her over
2) Make girls' night potluck, with everyone to bring something they can at least eat
3) Send the menu in advance, inviting people to bring their own if they can't eat the planned meal
4) If you want to continue cooking together, send the recipes you'd like to try in advance, so people can see what they might be eating that evening and prepare themselves
5) Share your concerns with Emily in person, in addition to one of the above (well, 2, 3, or 4)

I think it is polite to try and accommodate your guests' dietary restrictions. However, the road runs both ways. I might ask my group of guests, by email, to refresh my memory on their dietary restrictions--thus, get something in writing from Emily--and then try to make sure there's something decent that everyone (including you) can eat. (Or, if in general there's just too many, switch to potluck.)

The guests are responsible for either telling you their restrictions accurately, or deciding to themselves that they will just not eat something and not comment on it. I am not one to put down others' dietary restrictions, whatever they stem from (medical, religious, psychological, whatever), but they also have to be responsible for themselves, and accept that when feeding a large group, not every dish may meet every person's requirements.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: NyaChan on September 24, 2013, 11:52:59 AM

People have made some great suggestions, depending on the relationship you have with Emily.
1) Stop inviting her over
2) Make girls' night potluck, with everyone to bring something they can at least eat
3) Send the menu in advance, inviting people to bring their own if they can't eat the planned meal

4) If you want to continue cooking together, send the recipes you'd like to try in advance, so people can see what they might be eating that evening and prepare themselves
5) Share your concerns with Emily in person, in addition to one of the above (well, 2, 3, or 4)

The guests are responsible for either telling you their restrictions accurately, or deciding to themselves that they will just not eat something and not comment on it. I am not one to put down others' dietary restrictions, whatever they stem from (medical, religious, psychological, whatever), but they also have to be responsible for themselves, and accept that when feeding a large group, not every dish may meet every person's requirements.

I would do one of the bolded.  I can see how not inviting her would cause you trouble and if you do enjoy her company other than this food quirk, these ways will help you shore up your defenses against her negatives so that you can focus on the positive.  Feel free to bring up the fact that she is forewarned, also point out that "Oh friend, I cook for you guys EVERY week, I'm doing the best I can.  This is why I sent you the menu ahead of time," with a smile and then change the subject.  You could also have the other friend who hosts (who presumably has similar problems with Emily at her house?) agree to back you up a bit - in fact I'm surprised the others havent said something already.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: lowspark on September 24, 2013, 12:04:04 PM
I think it is polite to try and accommodate your guests' dietary restrictions.

I agree with this statement in general. However, there is a limit to this. These people are coming to the OP's house for dinner once a week and providing nothing in return.

Now, clearly, OP is a gracious hostess and enjoys cooking dinner for everyone (at least she did before this issue cropped up). But even without all the complaints from Emily, I gotta wonder how everyone thinks it's ok to never (or ok, almost never) contribute or do the hosting themselves.

And on top of that, Emily has the hubris to not only give you a list of requirements and restrictions, but to not follow those restrictions herself, in front of you, and to complain about your hospitatlity. Repeatedly.

She's taken all of the joy out of this event for you. What baffles me is why you let her do this for so long.

So yes, it is polite to try and accommodate your guests' dietary restrictions. But only insofar as it is appreciated by your guests, and definitely not necessary if your guests violate those restrictions after you've met them, and even more not necessary when your guests complain to the point of making you sacrifice your own enjoyment of hosting.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: artk2002 on September 24, 2013, 12:13:54 PM
It's nice to accommodate someone's dietary issues. It's not necessary to accommodate their hypocrisy.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: mharbourgirl on September 24, 2013, 12:54:56 PM

Her diet is confusing to follow and accommodate.  That's because it's not a diet, it's a way to exert control over you and everyone around her, AND to  feed her apparently insatiable need for attention

 the last time she came over I made a very healthy, low fat, low calorie dish of fresh vegetables and some rice noodles.  Only to have her tell me "This is really carby Dragonflymom."  It almost made me cry.  Carbs.  She keeps using that word.  I do not think it means what she thinks it means.

Even before the diagnosis there was a long list from her of what she would and wouldn't eat, that I have been continuing to accommodate.

No mushrooms - her husband (who usually joins us for girls night) doesn't like them. So what?  It's girls' night.  He's not a girl.  Why is he even there again?

No fish - she doesn't like it. If there are other things besides fish to eat, she doesn't have to worry about that.  And she can keep her mouth shut about her dislike because whining often offends.

No shrimp - her husband doesn't like them See 'no mushrooms' for my comment

No onions - she doesn't like them and I have to substitute more expensive leeks if the recipe calls for them She doesn't have to like onions.  Lots of people don't.  However, leeks are NOT an acceptable substitute in MOST dishes that call for onions. Blech.  And expensive, yes.

No walnuts or pecans - she doesn't like them, so again I have to substitute much more expensive pine nuts if the recipe calls for them Or just leave nuts out.  I sympathize with her here, because while I like pecans, I hate walnuts and don't find they add anything complimentary to a dish.  But I don't make a fuss about it, or even comment.  I just avoid the item with walnuts in it where possible.  We can't really help how our tastebuds are wired.

No sun dried tomatoes, dried fruits except dates and figs, or other foods with sulfates - she thinks they give her migraines but it's undiagnosed Yeeeaaahhhh.... I suspect her migraines are more due to the fact that her blood sugar is probably all over the place on this peculiar diet, if she only wants the dried fruits with the highest concentration of sugar possible.

I should probably include in here that my husband and I have our own medical/food issues too.  He's also diabetic, and his doctor recommended a low fat, high fiber diet for him.  I have an ulcer and high blood pressure, and my doctor recommended the same low fat, high fiber diet for me, and in addition I need to avoid acidic foods.  She seems to expect us to disregard our medical needs in order to accommodate the extreme diet that she's chose in order to cope with her medical issues.

Her psychological issues regarding food do not outweigh your own need to eat healthy and manage your own conditions

Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Goosey on September 24, 2013, 01:18:11 PM
When you send out the invite to the girls' night, include a menu. When she complains, tell her the menu is set.

When she criticizes you, try to remember that nothing is wrong with your food or your hosting - SHE is the one with the issues.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: *inviteseller on September 24, 2013, 01:29:06 PM
In the days before marriage, kids, and careers took over, the girls and I would get together every few weeks, alternating houses, and the host of the outing did all the cooking.  We made sure each of us knew any restrictions or absolute hates and we worked around it, but nobody had a list like she does that is ever changing.  And you can't make foods in your house, that you pay for, because her husband doesn't like them??   Oh heck no.  He needs to stay home and make his own darn food.  It is the height of gracious hosting to make sure that you don't serve rack of lamb to the vegetarian or pork shoulder to a jewish person, ect, but to get a list of foods her and her husband just don't like?  I can pick a mushroom out (and I can spot one at 50 paces  ;D) as well as my one friend can pick out green peppers.  I would tell everyone in advance what the menu is and if she starts in, tell her she can either bring her own contribution, can do the hosting at her house, or she can stay home.  Personally, I would bet money that is why the others will not do the hosting. 
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: scarlett on September 24, 2013, 01:29:49 PM
People who hold others hostage due to their own food issues irk me! >:(

This type of "Emilyness" killed our cooking club earlier this year. One couple decided to be on a different diet every month it seemed and were militant about all the food matching their chosen eating style of the time. It really killed all the fun for all involved.

Emily's issues are hers alone; don't cater to them. I agree with pot luck or a set menu, e-mailed out ahead of time. Be prepared for her to push back on either solution. I also agree "girl's night" doesn't mean Emily's husband.

Go back to trying new recipes and have fun with your parties again.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: rose red on September 24, 2013, 01:30:00 PM
I am diabetic and there is nothing I can't eat in moderation.  Even if there is, I will just stick with what I can eat, especially if a friend like you bend over backwards trying to please me.  This isn't about being a diabetic.  She's using her condition as an excuse to unleash her food (not diabetic, food) issues on you all.  If she is making everyone unhappy, I would simply stop inviting her to food related events.  Actions have consequences.  Stop letting her control you and the mood of the night. 

Stop trying to please her.  She should be falling over herself thanking you for all you do.  You matter so don't keep thinking she has a right to make you feel bad to the point of tears. 
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Dragonflymom on September 24, 2013, 01:50:21 PM
Thank you all.  You've given me a lot to think about!

As far as her husband and girls nights, originally Bob started joining us when my husband had a complicated crafting project that required Bob's assistance - they'd eat with us then go outside for woodworking.  Now Bob and my husband join us for dinner then disappear to the garage to mess around with armor or other crafts.  So Bob is pretty much a non-issue other than Emily's insistence about food for him.  Oddly Bob himself has said for me to just make whatever and that he wants to try and learn to like different foods, and seems mortified that Emily even told me about his food preferences and made a big deal out of them.  Bob gets real quiet and looks embarrassed whenever Emily starts going off about foods, or he'll even speak up in my defense saying carbohydrates are part of a balanced diet.

As far as Emily - everybody brought up a lot of good points for me to think about.  I hadn't thought of it this way before, but maybe she is using her food issues to control others.  I know the panic attack in particular seemed very off - it happened while I was out of the room, my husband recently brought this up and gave me more details about it - he said she ate the truffle, seemed totally fine, then when I re-joined the group she immediately started the waterworks and said she had a panic attack.  That makes me very uncomfortable, and when I think about it more it does seem like it could be an attempt to control not only what I serve but what foods I have in my house.

I haven't ever brought up her inappropriate behavior about food with her because she seemed so emotionally fragile after her diagnosis.  She is trying to keep her whole diagnosis a secret because she's afraid somehow her mom, who she's estranged from, will find out and gloat because her mom always used the threat of diabetes to pick on Emily's weight.  So she's got a whole bunch of emotionally issues wrapped up around this, and I figured I was in a much stronger place emotionally and could just suck it up and deal with her comments.  But lately it's gotten to be too much, and this has been going on for about a year and now I've had enough.

I think for now I will start with messaging everyone with a menu ahead of time, and suggesting people feel free to bring something if they have an issue with it, and play dumb if she complains.  I'm also going to cut back on hosting these things to once a month, because you all are right, it is just not fun anymore as things are right now.

I hadn't realized just how bad it all was, and how manipulative she comes across as til I've read everybody's responses.  She really isn't like this about other things, but food seems to be the outlet for all of her anxiety issues, control issues, and insecurities I guess.  But I just can't keep being her emotional punching bag about it.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: LadyL on September 24, 2013, 02:44:23 PM

I haven't ever brought up her inappropriate behavior about food with her because she seemed so emotionally fragile after her diagnosis.  She is trying to keep her whole diagnosis a secret because she's afraid somehow her mom, who she's estranged from, will find out and gloat because her mom always used the threat of diabetes to pick on Emily's weight.  So she's got a whole bunch of emotionally issues wrapped up around this, and I figured I was in a much stronger place emotionally and could just suck it up and deal with her comments.  But lately it's gotten to be too much, and this has been going on for about a year and now I've had enough.

I hadn't realized just how bad it all was, and how manipulative she comes across as til I've read everybody's responses.  She really isn't like this about other things, but food seems to be the outlet for all of her anxiety issues, control issues, and insecurities I guess.  But I just can't keep being her emotional punching bag about it.

I know everyone has baggage, but it is not fair for your friend to make her baggage your issue. If you are relatively close maybe you could gently point out to her that after a year of living with diabetes, she seems to still be very preoccupied and emotionally invested in food/managing her disease, and you are worried that this approach isn't healthy for her.

I also eat a pretty low carb diet (under 100 grams a day, sometimes aiming as low as 50g/day). It can be daunting to look at a spread of food and realize all of it has carbs (it's amazing how many carbs "hide" in sauces in the form of sweeteners, for example). That said although I also suffer from anxiety I don't think I've ever had a panic attack over my eating and I have gone much further off plan at times than just eating a single truffle! That is definitely not normal and more in the realm of symptoms of an eating disorder.

I say all this not to play Dr. Internet but rather to validate your suspicions that Emily's requirements are more than a reasonable host should be expected to accommodate. You're her friend, not her nutritionist or eating behavior specialist.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: PastryGoddess on September 24, 2013, 03:03:43 PM
snip
I've had enough.

I just can't keep being her emotional punching bag about it.

Remember these things.  As another person said, you deserve better
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: MurPl1 on September 24, 2013, 04:52:51 PM
You might want to keep in mind the feelings of your other guests as well.  (Granted they certainly have the option of hosting too!) But if I was enjoying weekly girls nights and over time there was ongoing drama over food, I'd not enjoy as much.  And I would certainly be disappointed if the host stopped doing dessert just because one guest decided that no one should enjoy them.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: EllenS on September 24, 2013, 05:06:18 PM
If you have never seen the movie "Peter's Friends" (Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson and many more wonderful actors), your situation brought it to mind.

Peter is hosting a weekend for all his old college friends at his lavish English country house. A particularly self-involved guest is obsessed with her weight and food.  She visits the kitchen and pesters the cook about the food she is cooking.

Guest: "What's that?  Cream?  I can't have cream!"
Cook: "Well, you hadn't better eat any then."
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Deetee on September 24, 2013, 05:39:34 PM
There is obviously a lot more going on and she has some serious issues that will not be solved by my suggestions, but I'll give them anyhow.

I generally try to accomodate the dietary restrictions of guests. One of the easiest ways I deal with most things is I almost always have a fruit platter and a veggie platter. At the very least, this gives some food for almost any eating restrictions. Also, I like to health up my meals. When I know I have vegans, I will add nuts. Or I'll add nuts anyway. I love nuts.

My feeling is that, as crazy as someone's diet is, I want them to be able to eat something. Once they can eat something, I can listen to the complaining pretty guilt free. (Though I would be extremely unlikely to invite a guest that acted like that to anything food related more than once a year)
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: rose red on September 24, 2013, 06:04:47 PM
*snip*

As far as Emily - everybody brought up a lot of good points for me to think about.  I hadn't thought of it this way before, but maybe she is using her food issues to control others.  I know the panic attack in particular seemed very off - it happened while I was out of the room, my husband recently brought this up and gave me more details about it - he said she ate the truffle, seemed totally fine, then when I re-joined the group she immediately started the waterworks and said she had a panic attack.  That makes me very uncomfortable, and when I think about it more it does seem like it could be an attempt to control not only what I serve but what foods I have in my house.

*snip*

Wow.  That reminds me of stories of babies learning to walk.  When they fall, they are perfectly fine and happy...until they notice mommy saw them fall and then the wailing tears start.  I guess Emily never got past the toddler stage when it comes to food.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: blarg314 on September 24, 2013, 10:36:43 PM
I think for now I will start with messaging everyone with a menu ahead of time, and suggesting people feel free to bring something if they have an issue with it, and play dumb if she complains. 

That sounds like the best option. I'd still stick with a fairly healthy menu, but make not tailoring it to the needs of anyone in particular.

I would be sympathetic to a friend who was going overboard while trying to adapt to a major change in diet due to health problems - it can take time to figure out what a good balance between tasty and healthy, and changing your existing habits, and  people can easily get anxious about a health issues.

However - throw in someone randomly cheats on that diet (or continually redefines it), throws temper tantrums when the food offered isn't up to their standards, *and* refuses to consider any other people's  health based restrictions, and my willingness to accommodate them plummets.
 
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Winterlight on September 25, 2013, 09:07:36 AM
Everyone has baggage. Emily is treating you like her unpaid Sherpa and is refusing to even attempt to carry her own. Not OK.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: TootsNYC on September 25, 2013, 12:04:08 PM
I think it's time girl's night became a potluck. Everyone brings their favorite dish, and worries about their own dietary restrictions.

I agree. A year and a half is a long time for you to bear all the burden of feeding everyone.

You can still have fun making food, etc., but you need to open it up if only so that you can say to her, in private:
    "You need to bring something you can eat. I'm not anymore going to cater to you with the menu for girl's night.
    "And you need to develop your own willpower, and stop yourself from eating carbs that are bad for you."

And then when she has a panic attack over the truffles, get annoyed. Treat her like the drama queen she is being. Be the teensiest bit scornful: "You know you have diabetes--nobody made you eat that. Enough already."
   If she keeps going, get her coat, "Well, since you're not feeling well, I think we should send you home."

And I think you can say to her, in private: "your constant conversation about your dietary restrictions, and your panic attacks over the carbs you eat, are ruining the vibe of girl's night. Specifically, they're stressed me out. Please stop."

I do like the "I'm worried about your health in terms of your anxiety" approach.

But otherwise, here's a very simple tactic that fits with my "Don't talk about your boundaries; live them" philosophy.

Tell everyone that you want them to bring a dish--it's too much for you to provide all the food every time. They need to bring something.

Then make whatever the heck you want. Fish with walnuts and onions, is my vote. And fresh veggies.

And then EVERY time she makes the tiniest comment about food, especially negative, but maybe even neutral, or has a panic attack or anything at all, look at her as though she has two heads. And say NOTHING.
   Don't even beandip. Say nothing.

Don't know how to do that look? Find a teenager and ask them to teach you.

And never, ever discuss a menu in advance with her again.

It's basic behavior modification
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: z_squared82 on September 25, 2013, 01:21:11 PM
Yeah...I'm also for the potluck.

As a more helpful suggestion, I offer my best friend K as an example. K hates chicken. Period. End of discussion. Doesn’t even like things cooked in chicken stock/broth. So how do I accommodate her? I always have salad and usually have bread available for her when I make dinner. Find one dish your friend will always eat and always make it as her alternative.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: that_one_girl on September 25, 2013, 05:09:00 PM
Sounds like Emily and hubby are located in the middle of the Special Snowflake snowstorm.
Don't let them snow on your parade!

Clearly she is not on as strict of a diet as she says since she is eating the potato chips and thick crust pizza.  She is using her "special diet requirements" to draw attention to herself and to make others feel badly for not catering to her every whim.

My family is fraught with people on special dietary restrictions.  The menu for family gatherings is set by whomever is hosting that particular gathering.   Sometimes the family member who has the allergy/restriction brings their own special food  (i.e. the aunt with a gluten allergy brings her own GF roll when the menu is "Make Your Own Sandwiches") and sometimes family members will make a small portion for the person who has the restrictions (i.e. the cousin who always makes her famous layered salad makes a smaller one without the sour cream topping for the uncle who HATES sour cream)

I think the best tactic is to put out the menu prior to the event and let everyone know that if they need something special, it is up to them to arrange it. 
That being said, it would be a good idea to have the menus run along the "Make Your Own _______" theme (think sandwiches, pita bread pizzas, pasta with various sauces/toppings, Mongolian Grill style stir fry, etc) that way, it is easy for those with allergies/dietary restrictions/religious reasons/strong preferences/etc. to easily manage to avoid what they are not allowed to eat (i.e. make an open-face sandwich, take a smaller portion of noodles, omit certain ingredients, etc). 
 
Finally, it is the responsibility of the person who has the food issues to avoid the temptation to eat what they are not supposed to eat.   It's very, very nice of you to try to accommodate your friends' tastes and dietary restrictions, BUT you are not required to make everyone eat according to one person's tastes/restrictions at a group gathering like the ones you have described.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Lindee on September 25, 2013, 09:04:59 PM
I am also doing the low carb bit for the last few months. It is working well for me with "no sugars, no grains and no refined foods" but that is my choice of food restriction and I don't want to make it anyone else's problem.  My tennis group know about my diet as my weight loss is now noticeable and they asked about it but I don't bring it up otherwise. When it is someone's birthday the birthday girl brings in morning tea but if I don't bring it to anyone's attention that I'm passing on the cake no one really notices that I'm only nibbling on a carrot or celery stick off the dip plate and when mine comes around I'll bake something, probably a lemon baked cheesecake as they especially like that, even though I won't eat it, as well as a salad plate because, well, it is not all about me.

You have a lot more patience with these outrageous demands and attention seeking performances than I would have.  If you are still willing to host these nights (I'm hoping your guests reciprocate in some other way and not just expect you to cater for them) then ignore her attempts to hijack and control the menu and limelight and just make what you want to make and enjoy the night.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Venus193 on September 25, 2013, 09:50:14 PM
I agree.  She is trying to become the center of attention with her food issues.  Don't put up with it.

I called someone out on this for the very same behavior.  I haven't heard her do any more self-flagellation rants in months.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: hannahmollysmom on September 26, 2013, 12:03:22 AM
It's nice to accommodate someone's dietary issues. It's not necessary to accommodate their hypocrisy.

I haven't read to the bottom, but this stood out for me. I am also diabetic, I was diagnosed 2 years ago, but grew up with a Type 1 Mom. I'm type II. While at home, I try to follow a strict diet, I would never expect a host to accommodate me. I would just avoid what I shouldn't eat. I admit I cheat once in a while as I miss some foods, but she is just being too controlling.

I would no longer invite her! She is just too out there for me! She needs to get a grip, and provide what she thinks she should eat.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: hannahmollysmom on September 26, 2013, 12:08:23 AM
It's nice to accommodate someone's dietary issues. It's not necessary to accommodate their hypocrisy.

I haven't read to the bottom, but this stood out for me. I am also diabetic, I was diagnosed 2 years ago, but grew up with a Type 1 Mom. I'm type II. While at home, I try to follow a strict diet, I would never expect a host to accommodate me. I would just avoid what I shouldn't eat. I admit I cheat once in a while as I miss some foods, but she is just being too controlling.

I would no longer invite her! She is just too out there for me! She needs to get a grip, and provide what she thinks she should eat.

Edit to say, according to my dietician, I don't cheat, I indulge.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Venus193 on September 26, 2013, 05:30:40 AM
I sometimes also binge on stuff I should limit, but restrictions aren't absolute verbotens for most diabetics.  Emily is being a Special Snowflake and an attention-grabber.  It sounds like she likes to manipulate people.

This is unacceptable.  People like this are quickly ejected from my life, especially if their Speshulness costs me any effort or money.  I vote for an ultimatum.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: YummyMummy66 on September 26, 2013, 05:47:03 AM
First of all, I think you need to stop doing all the hosting.  You are offering your house and you should not have to cook everything at your expense also.  You do this weekly?

From now on, I would be doing this as a potluck and everyone brings something. 

This friend can then bring something that she can eat and she can stop beyotching about what is being served.

"Dear Friends, since originally hosting this event and as nature continues, (a nice refeerence to us all growing older!), there have been more dietary issues to consider, mine included, when preparing meals.  I will no longer be preparing a complete meal for these events, but am asking everyone to bring an item to share."   You can do a nice spread of appetizers and desserts and it will seem like a meal.

If they are true friends, they will not mind.  (If they were true friends, in my opinion, they would have offered before now.  Maybe they have).     If gal in question in the OP would say something, I might reply, "Susie, it seems that you always find something to complain about.  One might wonder why you even bother coming to an event that it appears you do not enjoy?".  Put the spot on her where it belongs.   And if she complains about the food, "Susie, I am sorry. I do try and accomodate your needs, but every week you say something different.  I made two pizzas, you ate the one you stated you could not eat.  I made......, you ate what you told me you could not eat.  I just cannot keep up with your changes every week.  So, we are going to potluck.  Since you know more of what you can and cannot eat, I would not think this to be a problem".
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: that_one_girl on September 26, 2013, 08:17:51 AM
It's nice to accommodate someone's dietary issues. It's not necessary to accommodate their hypocrisy.

I haven't read to the bottom, but this stood out for me. I am also diabetic, I was diagnosed 2 years ago, but grew up with a Type 1 Mom. I'm type II. While at home, I try to follow a strict diet, I would never expect a host to accommodate me. I would just avoid what I shouldn't eat. I admit I cheat once in a while as I miss some foods, but she is just being too controlling.

I would no longer invite her! She is just too out there for me! She needs to get a grip, and provide what she thinks she should eat.

Edit to say, according to my dietician, I don't cheat, I indulge.

I told my husband to stop calling our off-diet days "cheat days" because that gave me guilt and anxiety ... but instead to call them "treat days"
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: TootsNYC on September 27, 2013, 12:51:54 PM
Sounds like Emily and hubby are located in the middle of the Special Snowflake snowstorm.


Hubby isn't! He's embarrassed when Emily starts on his issues.

It's completely fine in your own home to express to your spouse your food preferences, etc. So he's fine w/ that.

But EMILY is the one dragging those preferences into other people's homes.

Hubby has actually said that he's sort of interested in trying other foods, and that the OP shouldn't bother catering to him.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: ladyknight1 on September 27, 2013, 06:43:13 PM
OP, I hope things work better in the future. I would make these events pot luck meals to make it easier on everyone.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: that_one_girl on September 29, 2013, 02:17:25 PM
Sounds like Emily and hubby are located in the middle of the Special Snowflake snowstorm.


Hubby isn't! He's embarrassed when Emily starts on his issues.

It's completely fine in your own home to express to your spouse your food preferences, etc. So he's fine w/ that.

But EMILY is the one dragging those preferences into other people's homes.

Hubby has actually said that he's sort of interested in trying other foods, and that the OP shouldn't bother catering to him.

Sorry. I wasn't trying to snark Emily's hubby ... I just meant that Emily dragged him into the special snowflake snowstorm when she made his likes and dislikes along with her own into this huge deal. 

Maybe Emily's hubby and OP need to throw Emily an intervention at the next potluck night?
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: mechtilde on September 30, 2013, 02:16:06 AM
Maybe Emily's hubby and OP need to throw Emily an intervention at the next potluck night?

Not such a good idea- something like this should not be done in public. In fact any kind of intervention might make things far far worse- it sounds as though Emily needs professional help which is beyond what the OP can provide.

The other posters suggestions about ways of not pandering to her behaviour such as potlucks etc would be a better way to go.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Dragonflymom on September 30, 2013, 10:09:08 AM
As a few people suggested, I tried asking her in private to stop making all the commentary on the food that I prepare, as well as telling her that going forward I'll let her know in advance what I'll be serving and she's free to either bring something, eat ahead of time, or skip that particular girls night whatever she decides.

I got a lot of excuses "I was just trying to explain why I couldn't eat it" though she did apologize.  I'm having trouble buying her excuses, given the sort of sneering tone she uses when pointing out "carbs" in the food I serve - she says it in about the same tone somebody would point out a fly or a hair in their food.  But hopefully going forward at least the commentary will stop and she's on notice that this is unacceptable.

Thanks for everyone's ideas and advice.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: BarensMom on October 01, 2013, 01:35:15 PM
As a few people suggested, I tried asking her in private to stop making all the commentary on the food that I prepare, as well as telling her that going forward I'll let her know in advance what I'll be serving and she's free to either bring something, eat ahead of time, or skip that particular girls night whatever she decides.

I got a lot of excuses "I was just trying to explain why I couldn't eat it" though she did apologize.  I'm having trouble buying her excuses, given the sort of sneering tone she uses when pointing out "carbs" in the food I serve - she says it in about the same tone somebody would point out a fly or a hair in their food.  But hopefully going forward at least the commentary will stop and she's on notice that this is unacceptable.

Thanks for everyone's ideas and advice.

Good for you!  I suggest that the next time you host, if she goes into her carb snarking routine, you give her a hairy eyeball and say, "We've discussed this.  If it bothers you so much, you can leave and we'll understand."
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Arila on October 01, 2013, 03:35:29 PM
... I'm only going to be able to host once a month.  She said this was fine, so I'm clear for awhile.

This speaks volumes to me - How kind of her to give her permission for you to determine how often you'll be hosting in your own home!

I don't have a lot of patience for people who self-prescribe strict diets. I am willing to make sure that I have an offering available to them, or leave things separate so guests can add things or not (leave the nuts out for allergies, or make sure I've got ham AND roast beef on offer for make-your-own-sandwich if someone with religious restrictions is visiting).

When I'm on crazy fad weight loss diet I bring my own food, or select from what I can clearly see (without asking!) is allowed - usually from the raw veggie tray.

At first I looked through your friend's reactions with that "dieting is hard" lens, how awful it would be to be told "never again" for so many favorites when diagnosed with diabetes and how that could be emotional, but she totally lost me, as I said, with the above quote.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: TootsNYC on October 03, 2013, 11:00:40 AM
As a few people suggested, I tried asking her in private to stop making all the commentary on the food that I prepare, as well as telling her that going forward I'll let her know in advance what I'll be serving and she's free to either bring something, eat ahead of time, or skip that particular girls night whatever she decides.

I got a lot of excuses "I was just trying to explain why I couldn't eat it" though she did apologize.  I'm having trouble buying her excuses, given the sort of sneering tone she uses when pointing out "carbs" in the food I serve - she says it in about the same tone somebody would point out a fly or a hair in their food.  But hopefully going forward at least the commentary will stop and she's on notice that this is unacceptable.

Thanks for everyone's ideas and advice.

Next time say, **mildly**, "There's no need to sneer. You needn't eat it."

Or, **llightly**, "Goodness, such a sneering tone!" and stop.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: Marbles on October 08, 2013, 02:22:27 AM
I got a lot of excuses "I was just trying to explain why I couldn't eat it" though she did apologize.  I'm having trouble buying her excuses, given the sort of sneering tone she uses when pointing out "carbs" in the food I serve - she says it in about the same tone somebody would point out a fly or a hair in their food.  But hopefully going forward at least the commentary will stop and she's on notice that this is unacceptable.

Thanks for everyone's ideas and advice.

I have on very rare occasion and only when it was very obviously necessary to be blunt, replied to the "I was just..." excuse with "No, you weren't. You were [putting me down/insulting my food/whatever] and I don't appreciate it." I think your friend might have sent me there.

A softened version of this response is "whatever your intention, it came across as insulting because of your sneering tone, and, honestly your comments are [insulting/hurtful/completely confusing because you keep giving me grief about not preparing low carb meals and then following up with gorging on carbs] and I don't want to hear about it any more." Now that you have put her on notice, I hope you don't need to be this direct.
Title: Re: Hosting friend with food issues
Post by: iridaceae on October 08, 2013, 04:51:28 AM
"Carbs are necessary."

I must say she'd bring out my PA tendencies and I'd bring out celery, berries and water and announce that to make CarbHater happy all meals with her will from now on be 100% carb free. (I'd warn my other friends  in advance and tell them to eat hearty beforehand.)  If she said anything I'd just say "hey you asked,  you got" ad nauseum and infinitum.