The Eater

A good friend of mine posted an article on Facebook today called:

“The Picky Eater Who Came to Dinner”.

Take a minute. Read it. I don’t want to censor it, but I do want to express my opinion about it.

The writer was successful in crafting an article that generates conversation and reaction. So, here is my unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness reaction.

I take offense to logic that people are changing their diets based on the economy and a need for control in a quest for identity. As someone who has “valid” (I’m sorry, the fact that I even feel I have to justify my needs) dietary restrictions that comment sincerely pisses me off. I’m sure there are people out there who are experimenting and proud to pronounce it. But for a lot of us, we just want to fit in. We just want to participate. We just want to be invisible. I sure don’t want my identity to be the soy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian. I’d rather be known as that healthy girl who likes exercise and healthy food and takes care of herself.

I am very likely to turn down an offer to go out or to join a dinner party these days. I get irritated in the grocery store because I have to take the time to read labels, which means my cart and I are in the way for a while, so back off. It’s not a fad for me. It’s my health. I am increasingly defensive when not alone in the aisles of the store that contain the few options of packaged foods. And I try to avoid these foods anyway in favor of whole ingredients that I can you know, COOK (or not cook if I want to follow raw recipes.)

If someone invites me to dinner, then they invite me – and that includes the fact that I will get sick if I eat soy or gluten and that I’ve chosen not to eat meat (and at this point, it would probably also make me sick.) I don’t want to explain it to everyone. But if you are inviting ME to dine, then you should know what you are getting and you should be prepared to deal or you should tell me to bring my own.

And you know what? It won’t kill anyone to expand their culinary palette. It won’t hurt to try new things. And I’m sorry that the author bought something she thought was extraordinary and was disappointed when no one wanted to eat it. That totally sucks. It really does. But more for her? And maybe next time, I don’t know, tell people what the menu is and plan ahead so you don’t spend money and put heart into something that no one is going to touch?

But as an invitee and potential guest, I owe it to you to be up front and honest. But if you invite me then I expect that you will have something I can eat other than a tray of sad vegetables and fruit.

But also, if I say no to something, please accept no and move on. Please don’t make me extra uncomfortable by having to say no repeatedly. And please don’t make me explain why. I’m already uncomfortable. I don’t want to be singled out. I don’t want tell everyone. I don’t want to be defined by what I don’t eat or drink.

I grew up in a family of food allergies. Life and death for some, severe discomfort and internal damage for others. No one was ever excluded. No shellfish, no peanuts, no tree nuts, no gluten – NO PROBLEM.

The whole topic confuses me because my life experience has been one of inclusion or abstinence.

Is it really so wrong or bad for people to experiment with new ways to eat? Okay, if you change your eating habits as often as you change your underwear then, yes, you probably have issues. But don’t we all?

Bring on the potluck. If you have dietary restrictions – medically imposed or not – bring something you can share that you can eat and enjoy. And if you’re hosting a gathering, I do think it’s your responsibility to welcome people. If you aren’t willing to do so, then don’t invite people, change the type of gathering, or make it a bring your own or potluck – or make sure you disclose what will and won’t be on the menu and give people the choice to come or not come and figure it out for themselves.

Me? I try to have something for everyone. And if I do go somewhere else, I have a plan. I always have a safe snack bar in my purse, I eat first, or I plan how long I’m going to stay and eat after. Also, please expect me to drink water and probably decline other beverages. I have reasons and they are all related to my health and how I feel, so can we just leave it at that? I’m actually VERY happy with a nice glass of water. I’m sorry if my water loving habits make you feel like a bad host/hostess. You aren’t. I actually like water. I’m an easy guest in that way.

Yes. I chose to give up meat. That was something I did because I don’t like advocating for animals and looking cows in the eye and then eating their kin for dinner. I’ve read, I’ve watched, I’ve been stuck behind a chicken truck. I don’t agree with certain practices, so I abstain. I can better look my cats in eyes everyday too. It also didn’t hurt that I was sick after eating meat and it lost any of it’s appeal.

Yes. I chose to give up soy. Because if I eat soy? I can’t be around people. I don’t want to be around myself. It’s a lot of “blame it on the (non-existent) dog” and wondering when my insides will stop feeling like the inside of a washing machine.

Yes. I chose to give up gluten. If I eat gluten? Good God, I honestly don’t know how to describe how it feels. Sometimes it feels like my insides are being filled like a balloon and then someone is pushing and twisting that balloon – testing its limits to see if it will pop. And there’s the burning. And the churning. And the ache. And the headache. And the gross throat. And the itching. And the tiredness. And the anxiety. And the depression.

So yeah. That’s why I don’t wanna talk about it at your dinner party.

I’d rather just make my own food. Things I can enjoy. That I know are safe and won’t make me feel like something ran me over.

Dining out is not fun anymore. It’s a chore. It’s unfulfilling most of the time. I don’t do it for the food. I do it for the socialization.

I must stop because this has just turned into a rant.

Anyhow, that’s my reaction. At least it doesn’t stink.

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