Navigating Potlucks/Social Events with Dietary Restrictions

Potlucks, fellowship meals, dinners, parties, showers, game/movie nights… Until I had food allergies and other dietary restrictions to help manage chronic pain, I never realized how much social events always seem revolve around one thing in particular, FOOD!

I know at least for me, it’s very tempting and a lot simpler to just avoid events like that because of the hassle of figuring it out. But (as J likes to point out to me, trying to be all reasonable and well balanced, psh…)! We need to have some social interaction and a sense of normalcy to survive and thrive with chronic pain, even if we have to be a little unorthodox in how we do that.

Below are a few options and tips to consider to help you still partake in different social events:

  1. Pack your own food. I do this a LOT, even when going to fast food restaurants, so I know I’ll always have something on hand that I know I can eat.
  2. Look up the menu before to find something you can eat while selecting a restaurant to go to with friends. Most chain restaurants have their menus online and many have allergen menus you can look at.
  3. Eat prior to the event or leave snacks in the car. Can’t pack food without it being totally weird (like a wedding reception)? Simply eat before the event or bring snacks with you. Bringing snacks also gives you a good excuse to take a break from the noise and stimulation to step outside or into an empty room to eat and recharge for a moment.
  4. Prepare something you can eat to contribute to potluck. PRO TIP: Worried the one food you can eat will be all gone by the time you go through the line? Write on a card next to the dish that the food is X,Y,Z free and it will scare most people into leaving it alone, even if that dish doesn’t normally have those items in it ;p.

I can hear a lot of the arguments against these tips (I’m going to be too tired, that’s way too much work, people are going to think I’m a fruit loop – What if they ask me about it???, etc.) because I make these. While you do need to listen to what your body needs for rest, don’t allow yourself to just make excuses. Social involvement is so, so, SO important for mental and emotional health (yes, even for us introverts), and it’s something that we need to be intentional about to make it happen.

Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s awkward, but yes, it’s worth it.

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Is anyone else a member of the tupperware-toting club? Anything else to add to the list?

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