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What Do I Do When My Friends Want To Have Food That I Can't Eat?

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Updated July 19, 2013

Buffet

Call ahead to get restaurant menus.

Photo © Onur Mumcu
Question: What Do I Do When My Friends Want To Have Food That I Can't Eat?
At times, you may need to restrict your diet or stop eating certain foods that could cause problems with your inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis). Every person is different. But some of the foods that have been known to cause problems are raw fruits and vegetables, dairy (cheese and milk), nuts, and caffeine (tea, colas, coffee).
Answer: You shouldn't feel pressured to eat something that is going to make you sick later. Your friends wouldn't want you to feel badly. So if you explain to them that a food may make you sick, they will understand, I'm sure.

If you're in a situation where food is being served that you can't eat, you have a few choices available to you.

  1. Call ahead or look online to find out the menu. The restaurant may have their menu online, or they may be able to fax or email it to you. You might be able to find something on the menu that would be OK for you to eat. Even just a little something to order and nibble on so you don't feel out of place.
  2. Eat before you go. Have something to eat that's OK for you, and you won't be so hungry at the party or event. This is the best idea when you're going to a restaurant or somewhere you can't bring your own food.
  3. Bring some food with you. If you can, ask your friend or whoever is hosting the party if you can bring something to snack on. If you are eating only protein drinks or supplements (like Ensure), you can sip it from a cup or glass instead of out of the bottle. If you can eat other foods, maybe you can bring enough to share.

Use Humor To Deflect Questions

Some people may make comments or ask questions about what you're eating, or what you're not eating. You can either be honest ("I have a stomach problem and can't eat that.") or make it into a joke ("No fries for me. I already had grease for lunch!").

Remember that anyone who pressures you into doing something you know will be harmful to you, or who is disrespectful to you because of our illness, isn't a friend. You're better off with those friends that understand and support you as you try to stay healthy.

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