None for Me, Thanks

July 6, 2024

Lauren Long (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer

“How do you know you don’t like it if you don’t try it?” “You have to finish what’s on your plate.” 

From a young age, we’re taught that it’s impolite to decline food or state outright that we don’t like it. But what about when food doesn’t like us? Are we going to put something into our bodies that we know is just going to cause us a lot of discomfort later on?

Just as it’s important to set boundaries for our mental health and well-being, it’s vital to do the same for what we consume, even if it does put a limit on what we can eat, which is something I have first-hand experience with. 

I’m lactose intolerant and I don’t eat gluten either, so it does make going out to eat a little more difficult than it did when I still ate both of those things. But with how much better my body feels now that I don’t eat wheat or dairy, I know it was the right choice. I don’t miss going out to eat, having a hamburger, and then coming home and feeling bloated and uncomfortable after. My mom and my sister don’t consume those either, and they both encouraged me to give gluten-free a try. 

With that in mind, it’s okay to decline food when you know it’s going to make you sick, and while it takes time for everyone, including you, to adjust, it becomes easier the longer you do it. 

Food sensitivities are a pain in the neck, there’s no question about that, and it’s important to let other people know if there are certain foods you can’t eat. I had an experience like this several years ago. 

My parents had gone on holidays and I was at home alone. One evening, a friend and her now-husband invited me to their house for dinner. After accepting, I offered to bring dessert because my parents taught me and my sister that it was impolite to show up to someone’s house for a meal empty-handed. 

I can’t remember what the dish we had for dinner that night was called, but I do remember that it was elk meat and cheese cooked in spaghetti squash. My friend knew that I didn’t eat cheese, but I assured her that a little bit was fine. The elk meat, on the other hand, opened up its own can of worms. I’ve only eaten wild meat on a few occasions, but it’s given me a horrible stomach ache every time. 

I didn’t know that we would be having that for dinner, and once I knew, it didn’t seem right to say I couldn’t eat it when they had everything ready. We had dinner and enjoyed each other’s company before I went home. I went to bed that night thinking that the elk meat wouldn’t bother my stomach, that maybe it was something that would have faded over the years as I got older. 

How very wrong I was. I spent half the night in the bathroom and had to cancel plans the next day because I felt so lousy. My friend and I were texting a few days later and she asked what I’d thought of the recipe. I told her I thought it was delicious, but sadly the meat had made me feel unwell. She was mortified and I told her not to worry about it, that I had forgotten my stomach didn’t do well with wild meat, or red meat for that matter. 

Since then, we’ve gotten into the habit of checking with each other about different foods so we don’t have a repeat of that incident. 

In conclusion, it’s always better to be upfront with your family and friends about everything, including food. Our bodies take care of us, we need to take care of them. 

Born and raised in Quesnel, BC, Lauren Long is a strong advocate for mental health and overall well-being, as well as being a role model for positive body image. When she’s not writing, you can find her on the pole, the training mats or curled up with a good book.

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