Saturday, March 24, 2012

Partying with a restrictive diet - yes, it can be done!

If there's one thing that people on restrictive diets complain about, it's attending public functions and being able to eat holistically.  And the reverse goes the same- when someone I know is hosting a party I'm attending, they're always worried about how they can feed me.  Here are some things to think about if you're either person, struggling with hosting or attending a public function.  Whether you're the dieter or the host, your tummy and your friends' tummies will thank you for taking a moment to include these few tips. 

For the Dieter:

Be honest:  Tell it like it is. 
Don't be ashamed of your special needs, but don't be a pest about it either.  If they ask, let them know what you can't eat, and if they don't ask, kindly suggest some of the options below. Whether your reason is weight, medical, or just a life choice, everyone is different, and it's ok to state your differences.

Be proactive:  Always travel with something.
If you aren't asked to bring food, or asked for your input on food provided, you probably already do this to protect yourself, but always travel with something to tide you over. Get in the habit of grabbing something from your fridge before you go out.

Ask the kitchen:  You always get more with (figurative) sugar.
Whether the party is catered or a friend is hosting, ask if they mind if you sneak into the kitchen to find something you can eat.  If you're a vegetarian, vegan, eating gluten free, grain free or paleo, avoiding sugar, alcohol, or something else, I guarantee the chef has heard it before, and I double-guarantee your friend will want you to eat rather than go hungry. 

For the Host:

Always think of variety: What color is your food?
I often attend functions where there are just finger snacks. And they consist usually of crackers, bread, bruchetta, breaded or flavored meats, pretzels, and other white or beige items.  Remember to add variety to your offerings - be it a veggie platter, a fruit platter, un-sauced versions of whatever veggies or meat you are providing, variety is always better, for you and for your guests.

Share the load: What can your guests bring?
Most family and friend gatherings involve the guests bringing some of the food.  You're in control here, so tell people to bring what you don't have- make a list and include fruit, cheese, local meats and produce, raw vegetables, and start marking things off when people ask.

Offer both kinds: With and without.
As stated above, many sauces and dressings have sugar or corn syrup, or milk, and other things many people on a restrictive diet can't have.  So as you're fixing, offer two versions - with, and without.  It sounds like twice the work, but it's actually half the work. 

This also goes for those many friends who are now alcohol-free.  And it saves you money to offer drinks without alcohol, and encourages those who are considering driving home, to keep drinking and enjoying the fun without.Virgin mojitoes, peppermint and lavender tea, real lemonade w honey, smoothies, the list goes on.

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