Dinner Parties Counterpoint

My advice on tackling dinner parties and social occasions is a little different from my mother’s. My problem has never been with insulting the host or hostess. Often, he or she is too busy to be concerned about my eating. It’s the other guests, friends and strangers alike, that are more of an issue.

It was Thanksgiving of 2004 when I’d first started my weight loss journey. I was with my husband, who at the time was my boyfriend, and was a guest at his family’s celebration. We had just started dating, and I didn’t know any of them very well. I carefully chose everything on my plate, opting for more salad than potato, more poultry than bread. I passed on the mashed potatoes, much to the horror of the other guests. When I explained that I was trying to lose weight, the responses I got were:

“But it’s Thanksgiving.”
“It’s a holiday. Don’t worry about it.”
“Come on…you can just have a little.”

This is often when a certain type of peer pressure takes over, and it takes a lot of willpower to stick to your guns. I’ve never been sure why people do this. Were they trying to liberate me, freeing me from my self-imposed deprivation so that I could enjoy myself? Or were they trying to derail my progress? Then men at the party didn’t seem to care, but the women kept pushing. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think this is something certain types of women do to other women, consciously or unconsciously: they see someone doing something they cannot, so they try to ruin it.

I’ve never been one to give in to peer pressure.

I smiled and politely insisted I was fine with what was on my plate. It took several times, but finally they let it go. That Thanksgiving ten years ago was my first triumph over food. And since then I treat every dinner party or social occasion the same way. I will choose to not eat anything outside the scope of my meal plan, and honestly, I don’t care if it looks rude. I’m not concerned about what other people think. I’m simply not going to eat something that I know will destroy my day and make me feel miserable later just because someone made it. My health is more important. I guess I’m not a very good guest. But the way I see it, it’s no different than me not wanting to breathe in cigarette smoke that someone else is smoking. Just because you’re choosing to poison yourself, why do I have to? If what you have served is toxic for me, then I am not going to eat it.

Of course this doesn’t mean I’m nasty about it. I politely decline whatever it is I don’t feel like eating, and I know I can still have a good time and enjoy the company of the people around me without starving to death. (That being said, a handy trick is to stash something like a small baggie of almonds in your purse, in case you really do get too hungry and are about to reach for something you’ll regret later.) The more I did this, the more people in my world began to understand and accept it. I recently went to a family member’s house for Easter, and they made sure there was salad and fruit in addition to all the other stuff because I was going to be there. By virtue of that, a lot of other people there ended up eating better, too. Now pretty much everyone in my life is used to my choices. And whenever I’m anywhere people don’t know me, I show them my before picture. It usually does the trick.

So I say don’t worry about offending people. Don’t eat something just because you’re worried you will insult the host. Do what you need to do in order to make you walk away happy, to feel okay about yourself.

It’s your body. It’s your choice. No one else’s.

How do you handle dinner parties? Tell us in the comments!

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