News: Navigating the sugar (and white flour) fests

Navigating the sugar (and white flour) fests

What's the main dish that's served at pot lucks?  Pasta!  And what's pasta loaded with?  White flour!

Pot lucks, birthday parties and similar gatherings are a regular occurrence in our family.  Humans like to socialize and in our culture, we do that best around food--food that mostly contains white flour.  And if at least some of that food isn't loaded with refined sugar, it's like you've breached an important rule of social etiquette!

Pot lucks and other gatherings are a mine field and I never look forward to them.  But I don't want to be antisocial either.  For the most part, our children don't go for the food anyway.  I'm lucky if they'll eat three bites of anything before they want to rush off to play with their friends.

Here are a few tips I've come up with for navigating pot lucks and other social events when you can't eat three quarters of the food.


  • Come prepared.  Always bring a dish your family can eat, and pack a few extra snacks your children enjoy.  If it's a birthday party, bring your own cake and be willing to share.
  • If you're not sure about what a dish contains, it's OK to ask the person who made it.
  • Gravitate towards dishes made with whole foods.  Vegetable and fruit trays are usually safe.  The dips are a different story.
  • Potato chips are usually OK--the ones that are actually made with potatoes, salt and oil, that is.  I avoid the powdered orange and other flavored ones usually because I don't like the artificial flavors, but I rarely see potato chips that are prepared with white flour and sugar!
  • Come to socialize and celebrate, not to eat.  If possible feed your kids (and yourself) at home before the event so they're not hungry.  When you get there, nibble on the foods you can eat.
  • Tell your friends about your dietary restrictions.  Share in a way that makes it clear it's your problem, not theirs, and doesn't judge them for their choices.  Some of your friends may think of your needs when the next event comes around.  I've been pleasantly surprised.
  • Make friends with people who share your dietary restrictions and convictions--and attend their social gatherings!  Once in a while it's nice to go to a party and not have to worry about the food.

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1 Comment

These are great tips, thanks so much!

I do a lot of camping, and it's hard to find food that I can take with me on camping trips. It has to be easy to transport, easy to make on a camp stove, nutritious and usually not very perishable - all I have is a tiny cooler that won't keep anything cold for longer than about 36 hours.

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