how to handle eating “different”

Posted: October 7, 2010 at 9:10 am

Today’s Bloggers of the Day!! (random from yesterday’s comments)

  • Running Around NormalPaige is a personal trainer and gives great workout ideas as well as meal ideas
  • Healthy Coconut – Lea is gorgeous and loves sharing travels with healthy eating and fitness as well
  • Live Love & Peanut Butter – Bec is a new reader (or at least commenter – hi!) and her blog seems to have some great stuff

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Last night began our weekly small groups in church. Each week, we spend part of this time together sharing a meal and catching up before getting into the discussion and prayer. Last night’s meal was fried chicken, potato salad, and coleslaw.

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Not the most appetizing thing to me since realizing I don’t really care for chicken too much unless a small part of a whole dish (like a casserole or in a salad). I had a few bites of the chicken before it made me feel sick. And of course a meal of potato salad and coleslaw doesn’t quite make a satisfying meal. Lindsay asked me to do a post on how I handle eating differently than friends/family. So, here’s another Reader’s Request!

First of all, I don’t find I eat too differently from friends and family. Peter is always open to foods I prepare, even the more veggie based meals I’ve been whipping up. With friends, we usually dine together at restaurants or social events. At restaurants its easy to order what I prefer and at social events I usually enjoy to some extent many of the foods provided and there are always a few healthier choices, like below with a plate full of veggies to balance out other things. I wrote a post about not overeating in social situations here, if you’re interested.

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However, I do still encounter some remarks and questions about my food choices. And I do find times I have to adjust things, especially when not pregnant because my preferences are different then and I will have to be more mindful while working to lose the baby weight (I’ll open the can of worms on how I plan to approach that process in the future).  So without further ado, below are the scenarios I encounter the most and how I handle them.

When I know there will be a limited selection of foods I enjoy or feel comfortable eating at a social engagement. I want to be clear here. I will always choose to eat things I enjoy. However, there may be times when faced with food you outright do not like, or times when options do not fit into what you can eat if you have food allergies or are vegetarian/vegan. In the past, I used to pack and bring my own meal. Now, I do not do so because I personally feel rude and prefer other ways. I will eat a satisfying meal before I leave, then still munch on what works for me with others without starving.

Remarks when you do eat something not quite so healthy. I think the most annoying scenario for me is when I do eat sweets or a heavier dish that I like and someone says something along the lines of “I thought you were a healthy eater’”. In that situation, I always laugh it off (because its usually not said with ill intent) and respond with “I believe its healthy to eat things you love and its all about balance”. Yes, I have said that. Numerous times. Including to the waiter at the Italian restaurant on Tuesday night after telling him I write a healthy living blog and ordering the cheesy fondue.

Remarks like how do you do it, don’t you get sick of vegetables, why do you even like that stuff, I couldn’t eat that way, etc. With this, I yet again remember that people likely intend to make conversation and are generally intrigued. I don’t think people attack me and my eating habits. So once again, I always laugh it off and simply state that I feel best eating the way I do and choosing healthier foods as often as possible. I will also at times bring lighter dishes or share recipes so people can see healthy doesn’t equal gross.

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Overall, I prefer to live my life and if it acts as inspiration or an example to someone, great. I refuse to divulge all my reasoning in a long diatribe or feel the need to defend myself. In other words, I simply don’t let it get to me. I think people generally don’t notice or don’t care and then, those that do comment, are either genuinely interested or validating their own habits. By not making a big deal of it myself, it once again doesn’t give food the power. I also always keep the perspective that one meal every now and again that isn’t my ideal choice won’t hurt me. So there are still plenty of times where I’ll just go with the flow, eat the sub-par to me, and enjoy the time…like I did last night.

  • Do you ever encounter misunderstanding from others with your food choices? How do you handle them?
  • What do you think of bringing your own food to social events and eating something completely different than everyone else? I can understand it and I’ve done it, but now I don’t see it as necessary and prefer being more laid back about it since I don’t have many dietary restrictions.
  • Any other reader requests???

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79 Comments to “how to handle eating “different””
  1. I love this post!!
    I’m sorry I haven’t been commenting lately- grad school has been kicking my butt!
    I get asked questions about what I eat all.the.time.
    I used to have a really hard time with my family, who are vegetarians, but love butter, cheese, and other rich foods. After my weight loss journey they finally saw that the way I eat might be good for you! Imagine that… I even brought home some nutritional yeast the last time I was at my parent’s house and my mom loved it!

    • Tina says:

      No worries! I know life gets busy. I have trouble keeping up with commenting too. :)

      And that’s great your family is starting to show more interest in healthier choices!

  2. Because my husband had chrons this is something we deal with all the time. People are always sweet and try to cater to his diet, but it is not easy. I find it is easiest to just have people come to our house.

  3. I’ve recently started refraining from eating meat (it’s been about three weeks now) and I’ve found myself explaining my food choices quite a bit. One instance was at church during the luncheon for the folks working in children’s ministry. Fried chicken was the main course (much like your plate) and folks noticed it was absent from my plate. Living in Southern California, for the most part, I have found that folks are pretty open and understanding when it different dietary choices/needs. Still, I’m finding that in some circles I feel like I need to justify or make excuses for my food choice… But really, I shouldn’t have to, right? Well, I haven’t started to bring my own food to social events yet, but I do try to eat what I can and if I’m still hungry later, I’ll pick up something on the way home. I think I’ll take your advice, though, and eat prior to a gathering when I can.

  4. Sava says:

    Being vegan I get remarks like this a LOT.
    “I could never do that”

    Or when I say things like “Bacon sounds REALLY GOOD right now”
    “WHAT?! I thought you were a VEGAN?!”

    But the ones I hate most are. “OH. You CANT eat cheese.” or “You can’t have ranch or mayonnaise”
    Yes I CAN have anything I want. I choose not to. Don’t feel bad for me @[email protected]

    • Tina says:

      That’s always driven me crazy too. The “you can’t” thing instead of people understanding its an enjoyable choice.

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