It’s amazing how a gathering that is supposed to bring so much joy and laughter can become such a challenging and awkward situation. Being lactose intolerant, and with dairy being my number one eczema trigger, I swear my hands start itching when I watch milk being added to a dish. I hold my breath while I listen to the host’s ingredient list being rambled off praying for a dish I can eat itch and worry free “…potatoes…onions…cheese” Dammit.

Been there? Me too. It’s awkward being the one people have to accommodate for, but here’s how to survive it.

Remind your host

Don’t be afraid to gently remind your host about your dietary restrictions. Try to do so the moment they invite you, so that they have adequate time to prepare. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve already told them, or that you think that they should remember “by now”. People are far too busy with their own lives to worry about you and your diet (as in turn, you are too busy to worry about theirs).

Did the dish still wind up being something you can’t stomach? Don’t take it personally, just because they didn’t remember doesn’t mean they don’t care. Keep in mind that not everyone has a pantry full of substitutes for dairy, gluten, or whatever else it may be.

Bring your own dish

Help out your host (and you!) by offering to bring a dish, and be sure to make enough to share. You’ll be guaranteed to eat without worry, and who knows -maybe it’ll leave your loved ones begging for more!

Not sure what to make? Here’s a bit of inspiration:

Channel your inner 3 year old

Now I don’t mean kicking, screaming, crying, and otherwise just having a major tantrum on the floor…I mean I suppose you could, you certainly wouldn’t have to worry about being invited back over any time soon…(so maybe?).

What I actually mean is take small portions of the dish your host generously provided and pick through your food (and around your all your ‘no-no’ foods). We’ve all seen kids pickily go through their food, have we not? While this means you may not be the one at the table with the most manners, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Keep in mind that you don’t need to channel your inner 3 year old by making a fuss and drawing attention to yourself as you disgustedly push food to the side.

Fill up the rest of your plate with veggies, salad or anything else that’s sure to make your tummy happy. Smile wide and say your (as my 3 year old cousin would say) “pwease and tank yous”

Graciously Decline

So there is literally absolutely NOTHING tummy and itch safe on the table? The host’s main dish has milk laced throughout, EVERY. SINGLE. bun in the entire house is already buttered, dessert is 14 scoops of ice cream, and by God there’s even cheese melted over the salad. Melted cheese on a salad!? Are they trying to kill me!? (That’s just my own personal eating out hell. Tell me yours!)

So what now, as the guilt starts building up inside of you what else is there to do? Run far, far away? Nope.

Pull up your big kid panties and walk over to the host. Graciously apologize and explain that, as much as you would love to dig into their delicious cheese salad; that you just can’t do it. Chances are right then and there, your lovely host will at the start pulling out anything they think could work for you. Try not to let the guilt eat you up, it’s alright.

From there, go on and get your hands dirty. Your host has done more than enough for you, so insist on putting together your own plate of goodies from the tummy safe food they provided. Be sure to whole heartily thank them.

Pack a Snack

This is a habit I’ve picked up recently, but not exclusively for going over to people’s houses. The whole habit started once I chose to cut out dairy. While my loved ones could just pull into any fast food joint or sit down at any restaurant, I had to be a little more careful about what was in my food (does everything have cheese on it now a days? Good gracious!).  Let’s just say I learned the hard way that I can get real hangry real quick if I go without food. So in order to save myself and my loved ones,  I constantly have a stash of safe snacks in my purse, in my car, and at least one in my jacket.

Now when that salad quit sticking to your bones, and everyone around you is scooping up bowls of ice cream (R.I.P. my favorite and forbidden dessert), you can go to your jacket and pull out a treat for yourself.

I’d love to have a wide variety of suggestions for you, but I don’t. The only snack I carry with me is my No Bake. No Fuss. Energy Bites. They’re naturally sweetened with honey, and are usually just enough to get rid of a dessert craving (even when you still long for ice cream).

So there we have it, five eating out survival tactics. Let me know if you’ve got another tactic, and let me in on your favorite emergency snacks!

Health and Happiness,

Savannah