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Q&A: Dining with Friends When Your Eating Has Changed


How do I socialize when one eats the way I do?

Well, isn’t this just the question of the year and of the moment!

Since so many of you have hopped into the world of real food and UnDiet living, socializing does get tricky as we roll into the holiday season.

How can you dine with friends and family when none of them eat like you?

In this video, I answer this question with three very important tips that will definitely help make it easier. I also offer a script to help you respond to your friends and family so that you can kindly decline what you don’t want to eat without offending anyone.

It’s not we say or think that defines us, but what we do. – Jane Austen via @MeghanTelpner

If you are ready to start living your true healthy self and need a little extra motivation, be sure to check out what I’m sharing with you this healthy holiday season including a guide to help you cook for 12 to 24 guests.

Have you had a tough time sharing your lifestyle with friends and family? What strategies worked for you?


22 responses to “Q&A: Dining with Friends When Your Eating Has Changed”

  1. Mrs G says:

    For me the most difficult thing is not to sound preachy.
    When I eat something different (be it at a restaurant- rarely these days- or at home) or I bring something different, people get curious and start to ask questions. I find difficult not to sound judgmental although I try my best not to.
    If I say that I do not eat bread/cookies/pasta/pizza because of the gluten, people start to ask me why I feel better without. Sometimes they have a similar complaint, so it’s just easy for them to read between lines: you may want to do the same.
    If I say that the above mentioned stuff has a negative impact on my blood sugar (and I’m a normal weight, non diabetic person), again, it’s not too difficult to infer that this may happen to them as well, and a change might be needed.
    I also noticed that if I say something like: “well, I don’t eat this and this, but it’s a bit long to explain why”, people are still curious and still ask questions or they look slightly offended as I do not want to share information.
    So it’s a bit of a dilemma….
    Anybody in the same situation?

    • Judy says:

      YES! I feel like I just barely survived my family’s first gluten free/dairy free Thanksgiving. I cooked nearly everything for one family get-together and asked for adjustments to be made or to let me make them at the other. There was a lot of curiosity and misunderstanding at one and a fair amount of criticism and resentment to be suffered at the other. Such as, “Don’t expect me to give up my gluten & dairy, because I’m NOT.” or “I don’t think a tablespoon of flour to coat the browning bag is going to kill you.” (Of course it won’t, but it might make my daughter sick for a few days.) There were many times when other family members health issues, such as Crohn’s, IBS, migraines, type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis, arthritis, high blood pressure, stomach acid, and PCOS, came up and I refrained from sharing what I’ve learned about how diet effects all these issues. It was tough because I’ve become a believer and want to help those I love. I just wish that they would do me the same favor of not letting me see how much they doubt, how much they think I’ve jumped off the deep end into a vat of snake oil or am grasping at the proverbial straw to fix my family’s health; how much they think if we just found the right doctor, took the right pill, etc., or maybe it’s all in our heads and we just need to fix our attitudes. Well, I didn’t mean to go on about it. I guess you can tell it’s a very raw issue right now. Just wish I could skip right over Christmas. I really appreciate all the communities I’ve found that offer help on the internet. Thanks!

  2. Tanya says:

    Great video Meghan! Even though I work in the health and foodie field I struggle with this often. What is especially tricky for me is that I really focus on the QUALITY of the food that I’m eating and don’t prescribe to one particular way of eating. I try to eat what my body needs at the time or different times of the month. So, I do eat meat but I’m picky about where it comes from. I do occasionally enjoy bread – but it has to be really good quality, home baked. From the perspective of family and some friends it’s just – oh, Tanya eats meat and bread so she’ll eat whatever we put on the table. That’s where the consistency part becomes tricky. I’m consistent in my world of really good quality but in theirs it could appear as being inconsistent and confusing if I only eat meat at my house but not theirs. At a family dinner on my husbands side they were oohing and aahing over the “fresh Panera bread” being served and didn’t understand why I wasn’t eating it. Sooooo, I feel like I have to hide my eating habits in order to not confuse other people OR give them a dissertation on the difference between good and bad meat (for example). Any thoughts from you or the community?

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Nothing wrong with a little education- on the harms of factory farmed animals and GMOs. That’s often my fall back if it seems like people don’t get it.

  3. Maria says:

    This is amazing! I’m getting a bit anxious about the holidays and this made me feel like it’s totally doable! ;) THANK YOU!!

  4. Carly Morgan says:

    Yes, Meghan- I so agree that consistency is key! They get the point at a time ;) This video was GREAT. Your voice is loud and clear and I love ya!!! <3

  5. michylacroix says:

    We changed up our eating habits several years ago, and I find the social aspect the most difficult by far. If I am going to someone’s house for dinner, I will contact the host ahead of time and offer to bring something, letting them know that we follow a plant based diet but also emphasizing that we are happy to bring something and that they do not need to switch up what they are serving to accommodate us. I am all about the live and let live, and will not get into it unless someone brings something up (usually the question of whether or not we “can” eat something). I will let them know that we have chosen not to include that food in our diet as we feel better when we don’t eat it. The next question is invariably “don’t you miss it” to which I reply that we are very happy with the choices we’ve made and gently change the subject. To be honest I am happier when this does not come up, as I would rather not focus on what we are or are not eating and pay attention more to having fun with the people we are there to visit with. As our health journey has evolved we’ve found friends who eat the way we do, which makes dinner parties a whole lot less stressful. In addition family members have come to understand a bit about how we eat and have made an effort to include things that fit with our approach to food (which is so thoughtful and considerate and means a lot to us, especially when we are visiting from out of town and do not have access to a kitchen).

  6. Lisa Richards says:

    SUCH a good point re: being consistent w/ the UnDiet lifestyle. Been great w/ the eating over the last 6 months or so but definitely did a 2-week spree of eating whatever I felt like then got called out by a buddy last night: “Are you still on your hippie health BS eating or are you back to normal now?”

    My “hippie health BS” IS my version of normal and as of today I’m 100% back on track!

  7. Annette says:

    Great post. Wondering if you could suggest some dishes that would be good to bring to a dinner party that could serve as a full meal for yourself, if needed, and be good to share with others. Thanks in advance for the ideas!

  8. Nicole says:

    My biggest dilemma is not around what I eat but what my children eat when they go to my mother in laws house… she sees herself as very much a matriarch and loves to cook for them, unfortunately, she does not cook anything healthy… the yams she bought for thanksgiving had red #40… who buys packages yams??? thankfully they dont go that often because I haven’t the nerve to ask her not to cook for them our to follow my ingredient list. the last time they’re was a disagreement she didn’t soak to us for over a year :/

  9. pd workman says:

    I agree with all of your points and have used all of them. I’d add a few points that help to keep people on your side:

    – don’t apologize for your diet, and don’t whine about it and talk about how hard-done-by you are that you can’t eat all of the wonderful/rich/traditional foods that you used to. If you are negative or apologetic, people will believe that you are not committed, and that you might even want to be talked into eating your old fare. “Oh come on, one won’t hurt…” “you used to like it, and it never hurt you before…” “your spouse/kids won’t know the difference…” Be cheerful and positive about your new lifestyle. Don’t waffle when you say no – not “I wish I could” or “I’d really like to”. Say “no, thank you. I’m good.” Offer others the delicious dish you brought. Be happy, grateful, and gracious.

    – when other people offer you their special/homemade/traditional treats, or push after you say an initial no, they are looking for recognition and validation. Usually, they don’t really care if you eat their food or not. If you can validate them and their food, they will be happy. “Oh, that looks lovely, you must have put hours into decorating that cake”, “It smells delicious”, “I remember you make this every year. Your family loves this tradition”, “It reminds me of Christmas at Grandma’s house”, whatever positive thing you can think of to acknowledge their effort. Say it sincerely, with a smile. And another firm “No, thank you”.

    You’ll encounter a lot less “pushy” behaviour if you can follow these tips. And the more you talk positively about the foods that you enjoy eating – all of the fresh foods and vegetables you love – the more you will notice these foods popping up at later get-togethers.

  10. Charlene says:

    Yes!! It’s so great to know there are others out there who have the same struggles! It often seems like I’m the only one. Visiting with friends usually turns out to be awkward whenever food is involved, even though I try not to say anything negative. It’s especially difficult to keep my mouth shut when I see what they’re feeding their young kids, knowing the damage it can inflict on their little bodies…

  11. Lotus says:

    I really like your idea of offering to bring something, not just for yourself, but to share. I’ve been vegetarian for a long time in a circle of meat-eaters, so always feel that I’m putting people out – now that I’m avoiding gluten too ….! Well, I normally don’t even mention it and just suffer the consequences if I’m given something with gluten (luckily a little bit doesn’t upset me much). But the offer to bring something to share would make me feel like I’m contributing something rather than causing someone hassle! Thanks Megan

  12. Overworkedta says:

    Wow. Some interesting information here that can work for people with food allergies as well. I often bring my own food but I feel awkward talking about it. I think your script will help me be more direct with my concerns and how to address them with family and friends in the future. So many people don’t understand my allergies. It’s very complicated to explain that you were suddenly diagnosed with terrible allergies as an adult and anything that is “processed in a facility” or “may contain” is suddenly off-limits. Having scripts in certain situations makes me less nervous. Thanks for the tips!

  13. Heather says:

    Hi Meghan!

    Thank you for this video. Because of health issues (namely Rhuematoid Arthritis), I’m giving up gluten and dairy, and also alcohol. It’s only been a couple of months, so all this is new for me, and the holidays have been hard this year! Believe it or not, TV ads and shows can even trigger a craving for foods and drinks I’ve sworn off of, nevermind all the family get togethers. I’m kind of tired from all the mental and food preparation that goes into each meal. I hope it gets easier.
    I love your attitude and outlook!

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Once you commit that anything less than what’s best for your health is no longer an option- a gluten and dairy-free life because easy. I’ve been on this path for nearly 10 years. It’s truly effortless.

  14. Lisa says:

    Great suggestions! Thanks for sharing :)

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