Chances are if you’ve ever been on a diet, have an allergy or choose an alternative food lifestyle, you already know social situations that revolve around food can get a little awkward.
I often feel apologetic, and a little embarrassed, about my food habits. Sometimes I think I’m going to get pelted with chicken wings and crusty French bread for being difficult.
Over the years, my diet has strayed far from the norm and I understand how this can be mystifying, foreign and even crazy to some people. First I was simply vegetarian, which in retrospect was a cakewalk to explain to others. Then I eliminated gluten, dairy and refined sugars. Now I’ve added raw and organic into the mix.
I’m tough to feed. I get it.
Even a year ago, I would have thought eating like this was crazy, too.
And yet it’s worth it, because deviating from the standard North American diet has led me to healing.
I’m grateful that I have a very understanding network of friends and family who are supportive and interested in what’s best for my health. Still, social situations can be tough.
Here are a few ways I’ve learned to eat raw and have a social life:
Offer to bring a dish to a party. This ensures you’ll have something to eat, but it’s also an opportunity to share the pleasure of raw food with others – and maybe demystify eating raw, too. (It helps if you bring a raw dessert. Who can say no to raw brownies that are good for you?).
When eating out, ask for a special meal. If there’s nothing on the menu for you, it doesn’t hurt to ask the chef to prepare you something else. I’ve done this plenty of times when eating vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free, and restaurants are usually happy to oblige. Check out this great post on the process of calling ahead.
Suggest a raw food restaurant. This one might be a tough sell to some people, I know. I’m fortunate that I live in a health-conscious city, so there are a number of delicious options here. If that’s the case in your city, too, invite your friends to go on an adventure and explore raw food cuisine.
Participate in social activities that don’t focus on food. There are plenty of things you can do with your friends that don’t involve eating. See a movie, watch a play, enjoy a hike, attend a concert, go dancing, play sports, shop at a craft fair, chat over a cup of tea, etc. You and your friends likely have more in common than just food, anyway, so finding other things to do shouldn’t be a big issue.
Be flexible. If I don’t eat 100% raw, I won’t die of anaphylactic shock. I want to enjoy food, not become militant or dogmatic. As long as my food is chock full of vegetables and free of meat, gluten and dairy, I’m okay with eating it cooked once in awhile.
What advice do you have for socializing when you have dietary restrictions? Please share in the comments!
This post is part of a month-long series about exploring the raw food lifestyle. With the help of holistic nutritionist Jennifer Trecartin, I’m doing a 28-day raw food healing challenge to improve my Crohn’s disease. At the end of the month, I hope to transition off my medication, which I have been taking since I was 18.
Click here if you’d like to check out other posts in the series. And if you don’t want to miss a post, please consider subscribing to my blog, either my email (at the top right of this page) or in a reader.