Author Topic: Hosting friend with food issues  (Read 7370 times)

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Dragonflymom

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Hosting friend with food issues
« on: September 24, 2013, 10:28:59 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.
"By swallowing evil goats unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach"  Winston Churchill

PastryGoddess

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 10:36:46 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.

amylouky

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 10:44:29 AM »
I think it's time girl's night became a potluck. Everyone brings their favorite dish, and worries about their own dietary restrictions.

BarensMom

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 10:46:11 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.

menley

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 10:47:16 AM »
And she brings her husband to girls' night? ???

Two Ravens

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2013, 10:50:44 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."

lowspark

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2013, 10:53:41 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.

Zizi-K

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2013, 10:57:44 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."

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2013, 11:07:02 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.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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cwm

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2013, 11:13:12 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...

Bethalize

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2013, 11:13:29 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.

blue2000

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2013, 12:13:10 PM »
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.
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

Amara

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2013, 12:22:47 PM »
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."

Lynn2000

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2013, 12:45:48 PM »
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.
~Lynn2000

NyaChan

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2013, 12:52:59 PM »

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.