Where I live, in the UK, this week, we’ve had beautiful, warm, and sunny weather.
In fact, apparently in London on the 19th, it was the hottest April day in 69 years.
Which means that summer is starting here, and soon spring and summer will start elsewhere in the northern hemisphere.
Warm weather typically means parties and barbecues. That means lots of good, good food, and usually lots of adult beverages to enjoy.
That can pose a real problem for many of us with a chronic illness that prevents us from eating certain foods or drinking alcohol.
Because, its not only that we are surrounded by amazing food and drink that we can’t have, but we can run up against people who not only just don’t understand, but sometimes don’t care. We are pushed, cajoled, and told to “just have one” or “it can’t hurt you that much.”
That is frustrating because we know how ill we can get from even just a little bit of something we shouldn’t have. Alcohol can even interact with our medication and be quite dangerous too.
We could end up vomiting so much we need IV fluids, or be on the toilet for hours. We might end up triggering a migraine, or another type of flare.
In other words, we can’t “just have one.”
I remember one wedding I went to a couple years ago. A guy there would not accept that I wasn’t drinking. I told him that I had a chronic illness, was also on medication, and explained I would be violently ill if I drank.
But, that was apparently not good enough for this stranger. He even told me, “if I tell you to drink, you’ll drink.” For those of you who know me, you can guess how well that went down with me.
If You Have a Chronic Illness, How Can You Deal With Parties?
- Ask your host what food and drink will be there ahead of time.
- See if you can bring a dish.
- Bring your own meal, snacks, and/drinks.
- Have a supportive friend nearby.
- Refuse to engage in arguments. Tell the person “no” and say something like one of the suggestions below, then move on. If someone doesn’t accept your no, then they aren’t worth your time. This might mean physically leaving the conversation, if need be. Protecting yourself is worth it.
- If the offending person has a friend that you know, and you think they might be able to help keep them away from you (especially if the offender is drunk and needs to be handled), talk to them. They might be able to help.
What to Say to Pushy People?
- “No thank you” – “No” is a complete sentence. You don’t have to justify why you aren’t eating/drinking to someone if you’d rather not.
- “I have x to eat/drink right here instead.” – If you have your own safe food, then show off that you already have something to eat or drink. You don’t need to tell them it’s your safe food or why you are eating/drinking it, just say you have something already, so you are good.
- “I’m full.” – If you are honestly full, then be clear that you don’t want anything more. No one should try to force feed you.
- “I have a chronic illness and that isn’t on my safe foods list. Don’t worry though, I brought other stuff I can eat.” – If you are happy to disclose that you have a condition (you don’t have to say which one, you can’t always say you’d rather not talk about it further), then be honest.
- “Drinking, even just one, can mess with my medication. I’m loving this (non- alcoholic) drink though! It’s really tasty.” – Many people take meds for a lot of things. You don’t need to answer further questions if you’d rather not, but if you are OK to be upfront, then do so. Then you can deflect and move on by saying how much you are enjoying your safe drink.
- “I’ve already said no, and tried to move away. Why are you pushing me to eat/drink something that is going to make me very sick?”- If someone keeps harassing you to eat/drink something you shouldn’t, despite you telling them no, and moving away, then be sure to find someone you trust to get them to help support you.
I hope those tips help you navigate those tricky times when people push food and drinks on you.
Remember, you got this. You can say no, and you can still go out and enjoy yourself at all those summer parties.
And, if you are someone without a chronic illness reading this, I hope you have figured out by now that pushing food and alcohol on people isn’t cool. You don’t know what that person is going through. They may have an allergy, an eating disorder, or a hidden illness that you aren’t aware of. When offering food and drink to others, please respect us when we say “no” and let us enjoy ourselves.
Thank you and party on!