Picture this: You’re at a family dinner and are newly diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance or a food allergy. Your favorite aunt says, “Oh, that’s SO horrible! You won’t be able to eat anything good ever again!” Another family member chimes in, “Oh, please, one bite of pie won’t hurt you.” And so it goes, the entire day. You’re peppered with less-than-supportive comments about your dietary changes.
Sometimes I think of responding with things like, “Well, yes, one bite actually can hurt me. You don’t want me getting stomach cancer do you???” But what works best for me is to be softer to these folks in hopes they will eventually approach my dietary restrictions (or choices for that matter) with more softness themselves. Here are a few tips on how to respond in this situation:
1. “Thanks for being understanding about my disease/allergy/intolerance. I appreciate your patience and concern while I adjust to this way of eating.” (I’ve used this when the questioning person was NOT being supportive, but said it sincerely. It squelched the conversation in a non-confrontational way.)
2. “You are right, it IS challenging to eat this way, but it will help me be healthy. I appreciate you supporting me in this.”
3. “I can eat pie. Look at this beauty I brought! Would you like a slice?” (It’s helpful to create a strong ally in your SO or other family member who can make loud oooohs and ahhhs while devouring a slice of the pie you brought. A full on When Harry Met Sally scene may even be effective.)
4. “These changes will help me stay healthy so I can be at many, many more family dinners. It means a lot to me that you are supportive of how I need to eat.”
5. “I know this isn’t what is best for everyone but it is what works best for me and my health. I am still very much enjoying our time together even if we aren’t eating the exact same foods.”
6. This space is reserved for you, dear readers. Leave a comment below. Share with us what works for you!