Many challenges to implementing a new way of eating start in the mind. Outside forces may seem strong, yet it is your internal dialogue that has the most power. You imagine a social gathering and see yourself as being “that person” who is high maintenance and annoying. The question of what choices you will make in this perceived state of judgement arises. It is in this moment you need to give yourself permission to make your new way of eating a priority.
You are not alone in this dilemma. I have been there many times over the years. There have been times I’ve been successful in my thinking and actions, but there have been a number of times where the discomfort of being “that person” won out and I gave in to the foods I knew would hurt me or not serve me well in my goals. Why? I believe it comes from the place of shame or perceived judgement. I am going to share with you some truths I needed to firmly establish in my mind before my actions would follow.
First: Believe you are worth it. You matter. Your well being and health matters. You’re not saying that you matter more than your friends or host, but you are choosing to believe that you have value. There is a way to honor your value and the value of your host at the same time. It is not necessary to sacrifice your health on behalf of others.
Second: Give yourself permission to make the choice that will serve you well - without judgement. This is where shame can sneak in. We perceive others are judging us because we are judging ourselves. We can have thoughts like, “Who do you think you are? You are being disrespectful. You are being annoying.” In reality, you are not. You are taking ownership of your life and choices.
Third: Keep it simple. When offered a food that you know will either cause you digestive distress or is not in keeping with your new way of eating, it is ok to simply say, “No, thank you.” You are being polite. You are being honest. You are being kind to the host and to yourself. You don’t need to add on why you are saying no to this particular food. If they ask again, you can say, “That looks lovely, but no thank you. Not at this time.”
I have found that at many social gatherings, remembering these three things gets me through quite nicely. The host usually moves on to the next guest and I have honored myself and won’t regret the choice. I know if the role is reversed and I am hosting, I don’t spend a lot of time wondering why a guest said no to something I’m offering. If they are polite and kind themselves, I can easily respect their choice. I wouldn’t be a good host if I pressured anyone to take what I’m offering; you have permission to say, “No, thank you.”
Most of the time, if you are at a potluck or dinner party, you can find something to eat in the meat and vegetables. It’s usually the appetizers or desserts that are troublesome. There may be a time when you are looking at a main dish, such as pasta or breaded meat, and you are unable to partake. This is when you need to remember you matter and are worthy of love and belonging. You have a choice. You always have a choice. If you think the dish will not cause digestive distress you have the choice of eating it and chalking it up to the 80/20 principle. But if the dish will make you physically sick, like gluten or dairy, you will need to be brave and decline. It is ok. You matter. Your host does not want you sick. They may feel bad for not knowing, but they will typically move on and not make a big deal about it. In situations like this, I fill up on more salad and take comfort in knowing that I’ve got some beef jerky or a bar stashed in my purse. Another strategy I use when I am headed into an unknown situation is to have a small meal at home before heading out.
I want to take a moment to speak to the discomfort of being labeled as the “gluten-free one”. It is hard. It can be painful. In the almost seven years I have been “gluten-free” I have had only one very embarrassing experience where the host announced to the room I was the “gluten girl” and then proceeded to talk about how much she loves gluten and would add it to more stuff if she could. I was embarrassed and went directly into shame. Yet, after time and reflection, I have come to realize her behavior revealed more about her mind and heart than a reflection of me. When I have followed the three simple steps at a party, I wake up the next morning feeling rested, energized, and thankful for my choices. Following this way of eating has become part of my story and I have learned to own it. The wonderful thing is that more energy, vitality, less sickness, and weight loss have also become part of my story, and I am happy to own that also.
If you would like to add more energy, vitality, and weight loss to your story, contact me for your free 30 minute Discovery Call.