Social situations – how do I handle them? Well, it’s not something that is easy to talk about, but here it goes.
Back in 2014, when I first had to go on an elimination diet, that started the ball rolling with my social interactions.
How do I go out to eat? What can I have at a restaurant? Or better still, if I go out for dinner to a friend’s or family’s house, what can I eat?
I think the first thing someone who has to seriously restrict their diet needs to do is to inform people of their situation. Otherwise, you will be caught in situations where there is nothing for you to eat at all!
Especially if you are in a Dinner Club, like we were up until last year. It is one of the most difficult things to handle, trying to balance your own diet as well as those around you. I love my friends dearly, and try not to have them make me special meals. If asked, I will make a suggestion, but usually I will try to eat around whatever is being served. Only problem is a lot of ingredients everyone else can have, I can’t, so it makes it difficult for the hostess making the food.
I’ve gotten quite used to taking food with me wherever I go. Sometimes I choose not to, but when we go away for a weekend or a few days somewhere, it is imperative I have with me what I need to eat/drink to survive. I’ll take my own liver pate and share it with others, along with homemade crackers (only if I think they might like them). Along with a cooler full of food and beverages, I always carry my little portable blender for making smoothies, and my own teas, as not everyone likes what I would need to drink. And I don’t rely on others to provide special needs.
Social gatherings are a bit uncomfortable because I can’t consume the same things, either in the food or drink departments. I try to take my own beverage, and in the case of a dinner, will take my own meal. I know, it really is awkward, but it’s a necessity.
Going out to eat at a restaurant is another challenge. I will go on-line to check out the menu, if available, and if it is suitable, we will go. The waiter/waitress and I become quite chummy, as I explain my needs and they find out what can be done to accommodate them. Most of the time, the meal is quite satisfactory. I’ve found a couple of restaurant chains that will accommodate my needs quite nicely, so if going out in future, we will likely use them, and when travelling, I know which chains I can eat at.
My fall back meal used to be chicken, but recently I’ve been experiencing some symptoms when having chicken I would like to avoid in future. I’ll have to inform my family, in particular, that this is something to eliminate from their list of things to serve Mom! Sorry gang! Turkey, beef or lamb are my best bets.
I used to golf, until my RA decided to rear its ugly head, and now I simply cannot hold a golf club in my hands. It’s a really good thing I’m no longer a member at the golf course, because I can no longer eat anything at any of the events either. So, that cuts into my social activities with the ladies as well. The other day I was discussing with my friend about their closing luncheon, and she told me what was served. There was not one thing I could have eaten!
We recently had a street party, which happens yearly. Everyone takes something to the party for everyone to share. I made a special salad that I could eat. Unfortunately, that was the only thing at the party that I could eat, so that became my dinner. It was a great evening visiting with all our neighbours, but a stressful one for me as I poured over the food to see what might be edible on my restricted diet. Fortunately, we were just across the street from our home, so I was able to slip back to the house to grab something else.
At home, I make my own meals and sometimes my hubby will eat what I am eating. There have been meals I’ve made that even he won’t eat again, so I have leftovers (which is a bonus for me), but I’m disappointed that he doesn’t like them too!
These days everything seems to revolve around food when you socialize with people, it’s important to be as comfortable as possible, so you aren’t stressing about it. When you have autoimmune disease, stress is a critical issue and must be avoided as much as possible to avoid causing flareups, trust me it’s not good. Unfortunately, food can cause stress when you have restrictions, so, for me, I’ll take my own, then stress doesn’t even come into the equation.
I love when someone invites us over for a “drink” because I know that usually there won’t be a food component. Then I can relax, have a great time with our hosts, and go home feeling good about the visit. Even if there is a food component, I don’t always have to eat, so I just dismiss it and have a good chat. Lately, when we invite people over for a “drink”, I will put out a vegetable tray and some pate, but that will usually be the extent of it.
At the end of the summer, we have a get together with our golf friends and neighbors. This year will be a bit different, as I won’t be serving a lot of food. Only some nibblies that I’m sure everyone will enjoy. It is a great time to sit and have a good chin wag with people we enjoy being around. Aside from family gatherings, these are the type of social situations I really love. Food doesn’t have to be the center of all gatherings! Just being with the people you like and love is more important.
Have a great day and week ahead.