Alopecia: How to Handle Food Options at Parties, Holidays and Get Together's
I had a client recently come to me with this dilemma. She is in the midst of many parties and get togethers and it's hard for her to keep her diet in check while attending such events. As a professional event planner with over 15+years experience... here are my tips for navigating such situations.
Weddings: If you are close to the couple then ask in advance if your dietary needs can be accommodated. Sometimes there are buffets, which allows you to make thoughtful choices. Other options include speaking to the waiters or catering personnel onsite and requesting changes. Many times, they come prepared and can make changes for one or two people without any trouble. If you are not close to the couple, perhaps eating before, taking some snacks and being careful in choosing from the food that is available.
Conferences: If you are an attendee to a conference many chances, they are already aware and cognizant and have sent out a survey or have asked you for your dietary requirements upon signing up. If so, great, then that should be taken care of. If not, then contact the organizer of the conference and make your needs known.
When planning events for major Fortune 100 companies, we catered to everyone and everything, including kosher. This practice is quite normal in business and should be even more normal between friends and families.
Party: Sometimes you can gauge how the food will be by who is hosting the party. If the host is into health and wellness then healthy options will be served, if not, then general food or crowd pleasing food will be served. In many cases, I like to eat before hand, only nibbling on the veggie platter upon arrival. If this party is longer in time, then maybe bring a dish or two that caters to your liking and is an option for you and the other guests so that you don't feel isolated and the others don't take offense of you not eating the food. Also, brining in a dish, creates harmony and camaraderie.
Get Together: Normally get togethers are meals, and are more intimate in style. I would offer to bring something, or just bring it without even mentioning it. This way, I make sure I had something to eat so that I'm not being awkward and not eating the rest of the food thats available. Hopefully your friends are keeping healthy habits and if not, then perhaps letting the host know what things you can eat/ not eat helps them too. Hopefully they can accommodate. If it's, your boss or someone important, then pick and choose accordingly whats ok for your plate or not. Many times I have not eaten at parties because its rather junk food. I stick to drinks, some conversation and then move on and excuse myself.
Holiday Event: Make healthier meals, sides and deserts using my cookbook and bring them over to the family or friends house or even at the company potluck. Making healthier versions and putting in a little work saves you from not having options and allows everyone to share. Many times, I've ended up cooking Christmas or Holiday meals because I want and need more veggie dishes and unfortunately my family isn't all too keen with brussel sprouts or cauliflower, but when I make it, they love it. So introducing something new is good for everyone's health.
Family/Friend Gathering: The above should apply to all family and friend gatherings. Bring in a dish or two, or tell the host about your food allergies and they can keep you in mind. I still like to eat before hand as to not stray and also remind myself to drink more water and fluids. We don't need to be eating around the clock, and just because food is in front of us, doesn't mean we have to try it or taste it. Remember, diet and lifestyle changes are not a fad diet, it's long term. Avoid disease, alopecia and any other autoimmune disease by choosing your health over a moment of weakness.
Traveling Internationally: Let the airlines know that you have dietary needs, when traveling internationally, they normally request this when booking online however if not, call them up and let them know. More often than not, they prefer to know. I also like to have requested dietary specifications because then you can also get your food first instead of waiting for it at the end only to know that the option you would have wanted is no longer available.
Bridal/Baby Showers: Let's be honest, these showers are filled with cakes and sweets galore. Just say no. Don't touch it. Bring some dark chocolate in your purse or bring a cake that is gluten free and share amongst other guests. Many times, you can order cakes that are gluten free directly from the bakery or pastry place. If not, I have more recipes in my cookbook for cakes that are amazing and alopecia diet approved!
Dinners with Clients: I hear many times that the hardest part of taking clients out is the drinking and the dinners. It's only hard if you make it hard. We need to draw a line between work and health. If your work required you to smoke, would you do it? Perhaps you already do, and I hope not, but what I am trying to say is that no one has the power to enforce your eating habits or drinking habits. You can opt for tonic water and lime and chose dishes that are healthier options for you, especially since at a restaurant or venue, they can accommodate you. Perhaps what you can do too, is call ahead and tell the restaurant or venue about your dietary needs, they can go over options and have it ready without going through that dialogue in person in front of the client.
Ultimately the choice is yours. Just like my other blog post about preparing food while traveling, you also need to prepare for outings and social gatherings. Many times you are not looked upon as "that person" with all the dietary needs, because let's face it, it seems like everyone has some sort of food allergy now. Don't feel less than or weird about it. No one else will defend your health but you- so this needs to come from you. Take action and have discipline, your health and hair depend on it!