You like to go to lunch with your coworkers. Today they’re going to Olive Garden, where you used to eat breadsticks by the dozen . . . and you’re not sure you can pass them by now.
You’re celebrating Thanksgiving dinner with your husband’s family, and your mother-in-law says there can’t be any harm if you take “just a little taste” of her world-famous pumpkin pie.
Your boss has scheduled a long afternoon meeting. He’s having barbecue brought in from a local restaurant. There’s literally nothing low carb there to eat.
You’re at a restaurant and the low-carb pickings are slim. There’s chicken Alfredo, but it’s served over fettucine. Or you can have the inevitable chicken caesar salad, but you’re getting tired of that!
Your well-meaning sister urges you to add more fruit and grains to your diet – that it’s “not healthy” to cut sugar and starch out of your diet and that everything is fine “in moderation.”
Your friend has invited you and some other friends over to dinner. You don’t know what he’s serving, but you do know he loves pasta and carby casseroles, so the odds aren’t good for you.
These are just a few of the situations every low carber runs into. There are endless variations. The most valuable skill you will ever learn is the ability to assert yourself firmly and stand your ground.
On the low-carb lists, I’ve seen a number of strategies people use for such situations. Some say they’re gluten intolerant or have allergies. Some impress on friends and family that just as an alcoholic is only “one drink from a drunk,” that well-meaning “just one taste” is the first slip down the slippery slope. Some explain the science of low carb.
After nine years of low carbing, I don’t make excuses, I don’t explain, and I don’t argue. I just say “No, thank you,” and stop there. The only person I have to convince that low carb is right for me is me. Yes, I want and I deserve the help and support of my friends and family. That doesn’t mean I’ll always get it. I am solidly, 100% the only person responsible for what goes into my mouth, past, present and future. That means I and only I will control my eating. If my friends and family ask for information, I’ll gladly see that they get it. However, my health is more important than pleasing them.
Before you disagree with me, think about this: WHY should it bother anyone else that I won’t eat what (or where) they want? WHY should it bother anyone that they don’t get to influence my intake? If their approval is conditional upon their ability to make me do what they want, then their approval isn’t worth having. That’s not friendship or love. That’s control.
The most pathetic excuse I have ever heard come out of a low carber’s mouth is “I couldn’t help myself” or “I had no choice.” Sorry, that doesn’t wash. Your hands put food in your mouth at the direction of your brain, and unless someone held you down and physically stuffed that roll in your mouth, or pointed a gun at your head and it’s pie or death, you choose. Whether you choose to eat low carb or to give in is your choice alone. Don’t ever, ever delude yourself that someone else’s comments or feelings or behavior or actions are a valid excuse for eating off plan. You and only you are responsible for what goes in your mouth, so grow a spine and learn to take control of it.
“Hey, I know you guys love Olive Garden, but it’s hard for me to eat there. If we can’t choose another place today, I’ll have to skip. Maybe we can have lunch together somewhere else next time.”
“Sorry, I know that pie’s got to be fantastic, but I’m not having any.”
“Sir, the barbecue looks great, but I can’t eat it. I’ll need to order a chef’s salad or something, or run out and bring something back.”
“The chicken Alfredo looks delicious, but I don’t eat pasta. I’d like an extra side of broccoli and serve the chicken over that, please.”
“Sis, I love you and I appreciate your concern, but we’re going to have to agree to disagree. Thanks, but no potatoes.”
“Hey, Fred, thanks for the invitation to dinner. Can you let me know what you’re serving? I’m on a special eating plan, and I don’t want to put you to any trouble, so I may bring a plate of food and just enjoy everyone’s company, or can I bring a couple dishes to pitch in?”
Make no mistake, you do deserve your friends and families’ understanding and support – and failing that, at the very least, their acceptance, and if you don't get it, then that's their failure, not yours. However, it’s too much to expect them to do your low carbing for you. You’ve got to learn to draw the line and stand firm. This is your life, your way of eating, and sticking to it is both your right and your responsibility. Just as no alcoholic should let themselves be wheedled into “just one,” nobody with a peanut allergy should be pressured into “just a taste,” no diabetic should knuckle under to “just a little slice,” you’ve got to put your health first and not expect, or allow, others to choose for you. You don’t have to explain, justify, negotiate, or argue.
Just say no, and mean it.