** Warning: this is a LONG one J
So, once the perils of dining out at a restaurant had been conquered, it was time to take the next step. A leap into an area much more fraught with danger: dining out at a friends place.
You see – dining out at a restaurant, the only worry you really have is finding something you can eat. But, given that these places have menus, with a variety of dishes available and usually at least a vegetarian option you can turn to (with a ‘steak on the side, please’) you are generally going to be ok. The worst part will be fighting temptation!
At a friend’s place, not only is there a restricted menu – ie restricted to whatever’s being served – there is also an extra set of complications. The guests don’t want their hosts to feel they ‘have’ to cook paleo (thank goodness for the 85:15 rule), the hosts feel like they should cook paleo (don’t know about the 85:15 rule) and when it comes time to sit down there’s the thoughts – ‘If there’s something non-paleo, can I refrain from eating it without offending my hosts?’ or ‘Have I accidentally cooked something non-paleo?’. And god forbid additional, non-paleo or paleo guests are dining too! Extra NPs will add to the pressure the Paleo’s are feeling whereas additional Paleo’s might make the hosts feel they have no choice but to try to cook a suitable meal, adhering to guidelines they don’t know.
Phew. What a drama! Why would any person willingly submit themselves to so much stress?!
Well – because despite our different choices of diet, we all love our friends and family and sharing a meal is an ancient and wonderful bonding experience. I can’t think of times that are in my ‘golden memories’ bank that don’t involve a meal shared between family and/or friends. From our wedding with sixty of our nearest and dearest right down to a simple but amazing meal at a friend’s place where the four of us got to know each other a little better.
So then – how to combine the two for the recently Paleo? (Read:me) Dinner with my friends and not compromising my new diet?
I do not want or expect or need my friends to cook Paleo when I visit them. Their house, their rules, I totally respect that and if they want to cook a pasta or a chicken schnitzel or whatever, I will happily dig in and chalk it up as the 15 of my 85:15. That said – the majority of dishes I can happily eat anyway with just a simple minus – eg a roast dinner, mostly paleo, may just mean I don’t eat the potato and just have extra pumpkin or carrot. Or a BBQ – usually all paleo too, just omit anything like the cheese from a salad. See what I mean? And I hope that the host isn’t offended by omissions and just gets excited that they get to eat the extras.
This theory came into play recently when we were invited for dinner. The first ‘eeek’ moment came up with the question of dessert – another couple was coming along and providing dessert (we did the salad) – I got the question of “what can you guys eat? Do I need to google a Paleo friendly dessert?” I admit, I felt guilty. I didn’t want my friends to stress about what they were putting on the plate. So I told her not to worry about us and to make whatever suited her, and if it wasn’t Paleo, we’d just not eat it. (That last bit on the advice of my husband – I should have explained the 85:15 rule instead!)
The hosts had already said they would do the meat – so that was fine. But I was stressed that our friends were feeling extra pressure, or would not make the food they really wanted to, because of my diet choice. And I think my friend was stressed because she wanted to ensure everyone could happily eat her dessert. Plus she probably looked at the finished result and thought ‘Man I could have made non-Paleo desserts that would kick this sorbet’s ass!’
Stressed. Not how I want to go into a dinner with friends!
The dinner was an absolute success – there was meat which we all ate; roasted veggies, which we all ate mostly (Husband and I avoided the potatoes); and salad which was Paleo, which we all ate. Even the NP’s.
Dessert – paleo sorbet because of course my amazing friend did not want us to ‘just not eat it’. Ironically I was too full to really eat dessert but that’s not the point.
The point is – if you aren’t Paleo but have friends who are – get them to explain the 85:15 rule to you so you can feel good about having them over and cooking whatever you want without worrying you’re putting them out or that they’ll just sit at the table and politely sip at their drinks while you eat the non-paleo meal.
If you are Paleo – explain to your friends the 85:15 rule and that you would much rather utilise it so you can still enjoy these wonderful nights without them having to stress about what should just be a fun experience.
And then – when it’s your turn to host – blow them away with an amazingly yummy, totally Paleo entrée, dinner and dessert 🙂
Ek so, ek so – Paleo Girl.