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!
Roberto Ballardini 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.”
How funny, my wife, Kittie, gets this though she eats chicken and fish from beef lovers…. ” Oh, it’s a problem if the juices mixed???” or… “Well it only has bacon in small amounts.”
Best of luck with M@TM…RB
Heather @Gluten-Free Cat says
Love your tips! And I love bringing things that elicit oohs and ahhs even though it’s a gluten-free, dairy-free dish!
Thanks, Heather! I agree with you, it’s wonderful when folks are open-minded and willing to try what we share. And I love the SURPRISE that shows on their faces when they see how amazing it is!
Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts says
Great post, Johnna! Love your statements. Usually those statements/methods work, but when they don’t, it’s okay to walk away at the event or take a break at times. Figuring out where folks are coming from can be helpful in deciding how to respond. One important point is the succinctness of your statements. We don’t have to get into a major discussion with folks unless they are truly curious and supportive. Even then, it might not be the place or you can step off to the side to share more, as I’m sure you’ve done, of course. Thanks for sharing!
Such great points, Shirley! I’ve learned so much from you on how to handle these situations. 🙂