Why I Ate Food Prepared By Someone Else Only Three Times in 2018

Is it an obsession? A phobia? Or a healthy habit? I don’t know. But my New Year’s Eve experience strengthened my resolve to avoid food prepared by someone else.

In early 2018, my mother-in-law wanted me to help her find a new laptop. I obliged and shared that we were very happy with a laptop we recently purchased to replace the one our daughter broke. We fully researched options online, and with a click of a button had the product at our door within 48 hours.

For many, there is still a need to see, touch, and feel before buying. So I agreed to an early morning trip to the big retail stores located 40 minutes away. The early morning start turned into a late morning start because she ran into a problem. After consulting with several sales people at multiple places, the entire morning ticked away, and it was lunchtime. I was certain that I’d be home for lunch, so there was no need to follow my usual brown bag routine. I was wrong. Even though I expressed my preference to avoid restaurant food, my mother-in-law had a gift certificate to a national food chain and insisted on buying me lunch to compensate me for my consulting services. Now what? In a group setting, I can easily get away with sipping hot tea while everyone eats. At a table for two, that’s no so easy. So I noshed on salad and breadsticks and felt like garbage the rest of the day. Oh, by the way, she purchased the exact same laptop online after we got home 😊.

A few months later, the invitation came for the “birthday” dinner. My in-laws started a new tradition a few years ago to take children and grandchildren out to eat on their birthday. After all, they’re retired, and they love to go out to eat, so why not share this with others? It’s a great idea except that I avoid restaurants like the Plague. So I asked my family where they wanted to go, and when they said the new winery was first on the list, I was hopeful. I could enjoy a glass of wine while everyone else ate pasta, steak, and chicken. It didn’t work out that way. They insisted I had to eat a meal, and I agreed to a mushroom pasta dish. It tasted much better before it left my mouth later that night. Apparently, my decision to avoid restaurant food became more than just a preference.

When we were invited to a large family Christmas party, I didn’t hesitate to pack my own food and homemade wine. Not long after we arrived, the hostess and her sister-in-law came around with the pizza order, and I respectfully responded that I don’t eat pizza, and I have my own food. “Pizza! Who doesn’t eat pizza?” The whole room that was bustling with loud conversation became dreadfully silent. Why did she have to say that so loudly? And why do I have to feel guilty for my food choices? Any negative feelings about my choice quickly dissolved when I was able to lay my head on the pillow later that night and rest peacefully without consuming a bottle of antacids.

On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I planned to go back to the winery but only if I agreed to eat. I obliged. We didn’t have a date night all year, so I wasn’t going to let my phobia? allergy? stand in the way. Sadly, as we were about to make reservations, we found out the winery was hosting a “ball” that involved tuxedos, a four-course meal, a live band, and open bar until 1 a.m. at a hefty cost of $150 per person. Thanks but no thanks. We diverted our plans to a local microbrewery.

Initially, the restaurant seemed all right. My husband tried a microbrew for the first time and loved it. I snatched a glass of Merlot since I limit my homemade winemaking to organic fruit (absent of grapes) and flowers that are typically homegrown; it was a nice change. The menu had two meatless options–a veggie burger drenched in cheese or a black bean burger with sour cream and salsa. Each came with a side of chips and coleslaw. My husband ordered the filet mignon while I took my chance on the black bean burger. It took an hour to get our food, and after I had picked away half of the burger, I asked about the chips and slaw. The waitress started saying that most vegans don’t like the way the chips and slaw are prepared, but I guess she read the look on my face and decided it would be better just to get what I ordered.

As the waitress disappeared into the kitchen, it confirmed my decision to avoid food prepared by someone else. In my experience, it’s safe to say that most restaurants and dinner hosts have a planned menu based on what they want to serve. If that menu isn’t specifically catered to a personal diet, it’s not going to work. Where restaurants or hosts are willing to personalize a menu, many won’t or can’t understand exactly what someone needs. Our waitress automatically assumed I was vegan; I’m not. Our waitress didn’t realize that vegans don’t eat dairy products, so why would the preparation of the chips and slaw matter when the burgers were served with cheese and sour cream? And was the bun free of eggs?

In retrospect, I don’t regret my choice to avoid food prepared by others. I also realize now that, no matter how inconspicuous you try to be to follow your convictions, someone will put it in the spotlight whether you like it or not. And it’s not safe to assume that the people closest to me, family, will respect and honor my choices. I can’t let that deter me from my resolve to have faith, embrace wellbeing and let go. I have to believe that my choices today will have a positive impact in the future. I have to be proactive and take ownership of my health. And I have to let go of the judgment and resistance imposed by others who simply don’t or can’t understand.

Did you have a similar experience in 2018? How did it help you see things in a new way?

©Room2GrowGarden.com, January 4, 2019

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