Author Topic: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation  (Read 4466 times)

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Rosemary

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I have a situation which makes me feel awkward sometimes. I am 19 years old and a very serious college athlete.  My issue is that I have a very very fast metabolism and I eat a tremendous amount compared to most people. I am 5'8" and 140 pounds and I have talked to the doctor about this. Fast metabolisms are extremely rare but they do exist and I will leave the medical discussion there. An abnormal metabolism  together with intense athletics causes me to eat 6000 to 8000 calories a day. I need to eat consistently to keep my weight where is should be. My coach wants me to have a meal every 4 hours. If I go a day without enough to eat I can lose up to a pound, not to mention getting unbelievably hungry.

I was recently invited to spend the weekend at my uncle's vacation house. This is a problem for me. They know about my eating but even so they don't always take it seriously and I feel like I am imposing on them. We had lunch at 11:00AM and at 4:00 I asked my aunt for a snack. She gave a tuna sandwich, an apple, and a pear, and said "don't eat too much we have a big dinner ready in a few hours". I am supposed to eat 1500 calories at 3:30, not to mention being very hungry. So I have to ask for more food. It seems like I'm always telling people I'm hungry. Sometimes people don't always plan everything they are going to do so Sunday afternoon we go for a drive and then my uncle suggests we stop in and visit a friend. Well, OK but I need to eat in half an hour.  "Can you wait a while? Maybe my friend can give you a snack." Well, OK I can wait, but I am really supposed to eat, I'm already starting to feel hungry, and it is embarrassing to explain to someone I don't know why I need to walk into his house and put away a 1500 to 2000 calorie meal.

It is worse staying with people I don't know as well, like my roommate's family, or just school friends. Is there a way to handle this properly? I actually feel it is a little rude for them to make it hard for me after I have tried to explain it to them. But I know I am a little weird and people don't understand it even when I explain. I often find myself in situations which are a little awkward. What is the right thing to do?

Bethalize

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 05:12:18 AM »
Oh, you have my utter sympathy! People and food issues are the worst. The hardest thing to navigate is their assumptions, especially the one that what is right for them is right for everyone else. Then you have to deal with the faces made when you want something different. You can tell me that Aunty didn't really mean to imply I was a greedy person who was fat because I was always eating when she made that face when I had my scheduled snack, but I don't believe it. Aunty would deny it, of course.

Here's my advice: Decline the invitation on grounds that you have a medical condition needs managing in such a way that you think it would be imposing too much on them. Explain that you need to eat a meal every four hours, and you understand that it's an imposition and an annoyance for everyone else, but that you simply have to follow doctor's advice right now or you will  lose weight and be unable to function properly.

Then wait for the response.

If the response is: "Okay, see you next time" you have had a lucky escape.

If the response is: "We can manage that. Tell us what to do!" you have lovely relatives. Then you tell them what you need.

I suggest you take control of your diet. Have food with you and ignore anything anyone else says or implies. Have a cooler with plastic boxes of pasta salad. Have bars and packets of things. Have pot noodles if that works for you. Better to waste the odd box of pasta salad than compromise your health. Yours sounds quite a hard diet to manage for someone who isn't very informed about it. Give people a chance to meet you half way.

PastryGoddess

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 05:29:53 AM »
I think you need to start bringing your own food and taking control of your diet.  Right now you are putting the onus on your hosts to deal with what is an admittedly abnormal metabolism and the needs that come with that.  So if you know that you will be eating much more than the normal person, you need to bring food you can eat with you. 

I kind of have the same issue.  In the spring and summer my activity level goes up by about 150%.  I go from eating 1800 calories up to about 4000-5000 each day, just to maintain my muscle mass.  When I go away or when I have to go to an event, I make sure that I either stock the fridge myself or bring snacks that are high calorie to maintain my health.

QueenofAllThings

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 06:51:16 AM »
What she said. Bring high calorie snacks - protein or energy bars, energy shakes, etc.  This is your responsibility, not your host's.

Sharnita

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 07:00:20 AM »
I agree with bringing your own food. First of all it is a matter of self defense. But I also think that consuming that much places too great a burden on a host, to be honest.  It is reasonable to expect an average host to provide maybe a third to a quarter of what you need.  So hosting you is really like feeding 4 guests. That is kind of overwhelming in terms of cost, shopping, storage, etc.

veryfluffy

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 07:38:00 AM »
I do think that if you need to eat so much more and so much more often than average, then you need to bring food along, and don't make a big deal of consuming it. Obviously that might not be a "meal" but could mean eating a couple of high-calories energy bars, protein shakes, or whatever is convenient to keep with you. That's for extended visits as you describe.

For dinners, as per the title of the thread, you can probably eat a meal before setting off, in case your host doesn't serve as per the schedule you expect.
   

Zilla

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2012, 07:45:45 AM »
For weekend or week long visits, excuse yourself and run out and get a meal or a deli sub etc and come back.  If you don't drive, then as others said, bring your own foods and keep it in your luggage.  Don't keep expecting others to provide and being disappointed or feeling strange. 


It's like a person that has diabetes and has to eat at required times, they will often take something out of their bag/purse and say, "Sorry health condition.  I have to eat at certain times."  You are no different or weird.  Good luck.

JenJay

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 07:54:51 AM »
I agree with everyone saying bring extra food and I'd also suggest having your own transportation as often as possible so that you can pop out for a meal or grocery run when you need to.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2012, 09:44:18 AM »
I'd combine Bethalize's suggestion with everyone else.

Decline the invitation with the explanation.  If they ask you to come anyway, explain that this is very rigid for you, that you'd be happy to bring your extra meals and high calorie snacks beyond normal breakfast, lunch, dinner but that you must eat a full meal on schedule.  And stick to it while you are there.

If your hosts find it too onerous, they won't invite you again.  If they can deal, you'll be invited back.

If you were my guest, I would tell you up front what I had planned for meals and what time they were planned for, make sure I had stuff in the fridge that you could grab, make room for any supplies you brought and tell you to help yourself.  And tell you not to offer to grab me anything every time you went to the fridge.   :)  (Since I have the opposite problem to you.)
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
Ontario

Moray

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2012, 09:50:53 AM »
Well stated, Zilla.

I get hypoglycemic sometimes, and I find the best way to avoid this is to graze. This is my responsibility, not the responsibility of my hosts, and I have no problem accepting dinner invitations or even travelling. I just plan ahead and make sure I have appropriate noshing supplies at the ready. 

Some of my friends provide snacks, but again, this is not their *responsibility*, just a nice thing they do. My extended family, on the other hand, is prone to not having healthy snacks around, and usually ends up skipping breakfast, eating lunch around 11:30, and dinner around 7pm. When I visit family, I don't complain that they haven't switched to my schedule, I don't decline the opportunity to spend time with them, I just make sure my needs are handled.
Utah

MorgnsGrl

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2012, 09:56:24 AM »
Under the circumstances, I think you could politely decline some invitations and, when accepting others, make sure you bring enough high-calorie snacks to keep you going throughout the visit.

fountainsoflettuce

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2012, 10:05:56 AM »
You're 19 years old, in college, and a serious athlete.  It's time to start taking care of yourself and stop expecting others to care for you as if you were 5.  Get a cooler, fill it with appropriate food and take the cooler with you. If they ask about it, tell them it is part of your training. Then change the subject.

camlan

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 10:16:38 AM »
While you can always decline invitations, there are going to be some that you are going to want to accept. So you need to work on techniques that will allow you to visit with people and at the same time eat enough to stay healthy.

One thing you might consider is using the term "medical condition" a lot. "High metabolism" isn't getting the message across to people, so an alternative might carry more weight.

Another thing is that even though you have explained the condition to people, they will still need further explanations as to how this affects your day to day life.

We had lunch at 11:00AM and at 4:00 I asked my aunt for a snack. She gave a tuna sandwich, an apple, and a pear, and said "don't eat too much we have a big dinner ready in a few hours".

Clearly, your aunt doesn't understand. This is the time to look her in the eye and explain, "Don't worry about that, Aunt. I've explained about my medical condition. Even though this looks like a lot of food, I will most certainly be very hungry for dinner."

Sometimes people don't always plan everything they are going to do so Sunday afternoon we go for a drive and then my uncle suggests we stop in and visit a friend. Well, OK but I need to eat in half an hour.  "Can you wait a while? Maybe my friend can give you a snack." Well, OK I can wait, but I am really supposed to eat, I'm already starting to feel hungry, and it is embarrassing to explain to someone I don't know why I need to walk into his house and put away a 1500 to 2000 calorie meal.

If you agree to the surprise visit without eating beforehand, what you are doing is sending mixed signals. First, you say you need to eat a lot and often. Then, when you mention eating before the visit, you don't press the point and seem to be able to go longer without food. You still need to educate these people.

"Uncle, I'm sorry, but I really do need to get something to eat before we visit Friend. I thought we would be home by 4 o'clock, so I only packed a few protein bars. I'm going to need a meal in the next hour. It would be really embarrassing for me to walk into a stranger's home and demand a meal. Could we please stop at [insert restaurant/deli/fast food place] on the way so that I can get some food?" "Uncle, a snack is not going to be enough. I need to have some protein and carbs and about 1500 calories. A turkey sub would fit the bill--do we pass by a sandwich shop on the way? I can eat it in the car."

Stop telling yourself, and others, that you can wait when really you cannot wait. They aren't going to take your needs seriously until you, yourself, take them seriously.

Be as proactive as possible. Bring extra food. Try to find out the day's schedule if possible. "Auntie, you know I need to plan my meals out ahead of time to make sure I get enough to eat. When were you planning on having lunch and dinner? Oh, okay. If we all have lunch at 11, I'll have another meal at 3:30--don't worry, I brought the food with me-- and then I'll be hungry for dinner at 6."

Try to keep a sense of humor about it all. "You know me, I'm like a hobbit. I have First Breakfast at 7, and Second Breakfast at 11."
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


TootsNYC

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2012, 10:31:02 AM »
(also mention Michael Phelps a time or two)

Crazy Chicken Lady

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Re: I am not sure how to handle dinner invitations because of my situation
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2012, 11:00:38 AM »
One of my teenage cousins went through a phase where his hunger could not be satisfied. Our family would jokingly call him "zombie" because he would mumble and become grumpy when he was hungry. His doctor finally wrote him a note giving him permission to carry around snacks at school since he couldn't make it until lunchtime without eating. After he quit wrestling, his appetite did decrease some much to the relief of his parents.
I know your situation is a lot more extreme than his was. I agree with other posters that carrying snacks around is a great idea. Sorry for what you're going through and best of luck with your situation. :-)