Author Topic: Hosting friend with food issues  (Read 7118 times)

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lowspark

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2013, 01:04:04 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.

artk2002

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2013, 01:13:54 PM »
It's nice to accommodate someone's dietary issues. It's not necessary to accommodate their hypocrisy.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

mharbourgirl

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2013, 01:54:56 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


Goosey

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2013, 02:18:11 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.

*inviteseller

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2013, 02:29:06 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. 

scarlett

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2013, 02:29:49 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.

rose red

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2013, 02:30:00 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. 
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 02:35:07 PM by rose red »

Dragonflymom

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2013, 02:50:21 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.
"By swallowing evil goats unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach"  Winston Churchill

LadyL

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2013, 03:44:23 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.

PastryGoddess

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2013, 04:03:43 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

MurPl1

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #25 on: September 24, 2013, 05:52:51 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.

EllenS

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2013, 06:06:18 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."

Deetee

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2013, 06:39:34 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)

rose red

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2013, 07:04:47 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.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 07:06:57 PM by rose red »

blarg314

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Re: Hosting friend with food issues
« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2013, 11:36:43 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.