I recently posted about my 21 days without grains or sugar (and 21 reasons to try it yourself). In response to my challenges, my fabulous friend, artist and graphic librarian Crystal Antoinette Graham, sent me some encouraging tips on how to respond when temptation rears its seductive head while attending events.
As a vegetarian and vegan, Crystal’s had 16 years of experience in not having food to eat at events! Here are her top seven tips:
1. Eat a really filling meal before you leave
If you have kids, make them eat too. Even if you think you’re not hungry, eat anyway so your stomach isn’t fighting your morals.
2. And/Or bring your own food
Depending on the kind of event (formal, casual) and who will be there (family or strangers) either just bring it out (eventually people just realise you’re on a special diet and don’t bother trying to find things for you to eat) or be a little more discrete.
3. Learn how to say, “I’m not hungry” and change the subject
Or figure out some succinct way to explain that everything looks so good but you can’t eat it because of allergies (we ARE allergic to agricultural products), trying to lose weight, health reasons or just make it seem like some vague spiritual reason. Again, change the subject. A room full of happy diners is NOT the time to extol the virtues of your dietary philosophy.
4. Give advance notice
If it is a catered event (think wedding or business lunch) or you know the cook very well and know they won’t be offended (e.g. your mother), tell them in advance what kinds of things you can and cannot eat. Be really specific because, although people mean well, sometimes they will get it wrong and that makes everyone feel bad.
5. Give the chef a break
If you don’t know the person that well, or you feel like it will be too much for them to do anything, just tell them not to worry about making anything special for you. That it’s too much to worry about the long list of things you can’t eat. If they insist, you can tell them you love fresh fruit (fresh fruit is the safest way to phrase this – emphasize the “fresh” (and that you can’t eat anything with sugar) because then you don’t have to worry about what they might have added to it. Then, refer to numbers 1 and 2.
6. Don’t act hungry or uncomfortable
People sense this and it makes them feel bad/guilty for not having food for you.
7. Get a really good reason (preferably something bigger than just you) for NOT eating all the stuff being offered
For me, eating with other people was never an issue because my reasons for being a vegan were non-negotiable. There could never be something too tempting, never be hunger pangs too strong and, never a host too insistent. I had conviction. And it made everything else much easier. This probably should have been number 1 because it makes the inconvenience worth the effort.
Incidentally, Crystal has recently adopted primal eating and is loving how it’s transforming her health and lifestyle!