There is an awkward moment that happens when a friend invites me to dinner. Or I visit with parents or in-laws. How on earth am I going to be able to tell them about my dietary requirements without causing chaos and anxiety (for them) and social isolation (for me)! These are some of the tactics I have tried, with varying degrees of success…1. “I am following a low fodmap diet to help me manage symptoms of IBS and here is a list of what I can’t eat…..” OK, this is not a great way to start, as I lose them at “fodmap” – fod-whhaat? and most people don’t know about “IBS”. Then if I start to tell them about IBS, I suddenly find myself in a terribly embarrassing situation where I am talking to someone about my bowel movements and wind and how it affects my life! Really not a great way to make or keep friends! Another difficultly is that when friends hear the word “diet” they assume I am on a crazy weight loss diet and they start to fret about me getting an eating disorder.
2. “I’m lactose intolerant, fructose intolerant, wheat intolerant and that’s just getting started….” Again, this is not ideal as it tends to overwhelm and freak people out and they might assume I am a neurotic hypochondriac.
3. Don’t tell them anything, and just turn up and bring my own food. Seriously, I have done this at a dinner party, but I managed to be discreet (I think!). I ate the salad, avoided the garlic bread, tried some of the mince in the lasagne, and later heated up a cheese sandwich (on gluten free bread) in the microwave when no one was in the kitchen. If you are going to a BBQ this approach could work just fine – you could bring a low fodmap dessert or side-dish to share. Likewise at a restaurant it is a little easier as you have more control over what you order.
4. “Just so you know, I am gluten-free”. This is great, as so many people are gluten free these days, so people rarely ask me difficult questions. Once a meal is gluten free, I find it is then OK to self-select from whatever else is served. So for example, I will pass on the lovely snow peas, push the asparagus and red onion in the salad to the side and just deal with eating a little bit of garlic or dairy if I need to. This is by far the best option I have found!
5. If during the meal I am offered something that contains high fodmap food, I politely decline and say “thank you, that looks delicious, but [insert food here] doesn’t agree with me”. This works very well and usually doesn’t cause offence.
I would really love to hear what your experience has been! How do you deal with this tricky moment?