Dinner Doesn't Match Diet

Updated on March 22, 2018
M.6. asks from Woodbridge, NJ
22 answers

I'm going to my SIL/BIL for Easter dinner. The issue is that they serve nearly no food choices. The menu is the same every year: ham, bread, a baked potato. That's it. No vegies, no salad, nothing. We bring the bread (that is what we are told to bring), other non-hosting BIL/SIL bring salsa and chips as an appetizer, and MIL/FIL bring pies for dessert.

I don't eat any of what they serve except the ham. I don't eat bread, potatoes, chips, or dessert. In the past, I've kind of "faked" my way through things. It is busy enough during the meal it isn't noticeable what I did or didn't eat. The downside is that I am starving when we leave.

I have offered in the past to bring bread AND something else - a salad, roasted vegies, a vegie platter, cut up fruit, anything at all. Nope! No can do. I did bring a salad to pass about 5 years ago and SIL was NOT happy about it.

I told hubby this year that I was going to pack some food for myself to eat in the car both before and after so I could just not be hungry for the entire day. He thinks I should just bring my own food - like a personal salad! Ummmmm . . . I'm thinking that sounds pretty darn rude! I think by eating in the car, I am avoiding hurting the hostesses feelings by basically declaring her food is inedible (which I'm not, just can't eat it myself), and I've already done the bring a dish I can eat to pass and pissed her off.

So, thoughts? Relationship with this SIL is already "strained." She decided to skip Christmas, which I host, to "stay home with the dog." Her husband and kids showed up without her . . . on Christmas Day. I didn't say anything, but this apparently was in retaliation to my not being at their Thanksgiving because I spend every holiday now with my dad as he is close to death and these are the last holidays I can spend with him. Her husband was gracious enough to move Easter dinner one week later so I would be able to attend. I'm not into throwdowns, retaliatory acts, and holiday drama with hubby's family and really just want to get along for the couple of holidays a year I interact with them. I'm really not interested in rocking the boat . . . oh, SIL/BIL hosting = BIL is hubby's brother and SIL is his wife.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

@Chacha - it is a 4 hr drive there, we typically spend 4 - 5 hrs at their house, and then 4 hrs back. Its 12 - 13 hrs (or longer if the weather is bad) for the total trip and we do it in one day. They serve the meal at 1:00 p.m.

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answers from Anchorage on

Bring salad and fruit, enough to share, let sil be mad about it if she wants but I bet most of the others enjoy it. Make a yummy fruit dip (like out of cream cheese and brown sugar) and I bet the kids clean the fruit plate all up, I know mine do :)

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answers from Portland on

This is so weird. Who doesn't serve vegetables of some sort. Odd.

I have quite a lot to add.

My in-laws would bring their own food and not eat what we prepared, when we were first married. That's because my FIL is a controlling jerk and had to make a point and he liked 'his' salad the way his controlled wife made it (veggies cut just so), so even though we served tossed salad, it wasn't tossed HIS way. And so on, down to the bread.

You know what? Fine. Less cooking for us.

In my family? You bring what people ask (by the host) and then you often bring more than that, just because - it's fun to show up with something unexpected - but that won't throw the host/hostess off. Wine, salad, squares, another appetizer, whatever ... more food the merrier.

If it were me, I'd pack food for trip up and eat away. I would probably (since they sound really odd), just eat what was served. I would do this because it sounds like drama otherwise. I would just eat the ham and take enough of the rest to play around with it, then throw my napkin on it and be done with it.

Then I'd eat from the cooler I'd packed on the trip home.

That sounds like a very long day.

Hang in there. Remember to pack some goodies in that cooler to get you through. Be the bigger person! You can do it.

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answers from Dallas on

I would have your husband since this is his family let them know we will bring what you asked but we will also bring a salad as my wife on a special diet and I want to make sure she has enough to eat. We will bring enough to share incase anyone else would like some.

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answers from New York on

we run into this often. my dh cannot eat anything with onion in it. many cannot understand this concept. onion is in nearly everything in a package!
i just feed him a meal before we leave. a protein packed mini meal, and he munches on what he can eat at the party. afterwards i will make him a meal to make sure hes not still hungry.
you could have a few hard boiled eggs, and some veggies before you leave home (or in the car on the way if its a long drive) to fill you up before you get there, then munch on what you can have while there and have a little cooler with more eggs veggies or deli meat on a tortilla (if you can eat that)
i find it odd that she does not serve a veggie platter or a fruit mix of some kind! we always have something from all food groups to choose from. and now that relatives are starting to understand food intolerance and allergies there is an even greater variety of food. your hubby should talk to his brother to see if in the future you could add more variety by bringing a veggie tray

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answers from Honolulu on

I agree with you that just bringing a personal salad for yourself might be considered rude. I'm glad you're not going with that idea.

And I like your attitude about not causing any drama or competitions over food, and not rocking the boat. Wish more people felt like you do.

I think that bringing a fruit bowl would be a good idea, and you could eat some fresh fruit with your ham. Just keep it simple (no elaborate shapes, no fancy dips, no exotic fruit like dragon fruit - just an assortment of berries, already washed, in a simple bowl).

If you really think that will bother her, can you get a substantial protein bar like a Luna bar, or an Epic bar, that don't have carbs (some Luna bars are simply dates and nuts, but some have sugar - you have to check the individual labels)? Eat one or two in the car just before dinner, and keep one in your purse or pocket in case you need to nibble on it in a quiet moment.

It's too bad that people aren't more gracious about other people's dietary restrictions. I hope your family dinner is peaceful.

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answers from Boston on

Bless you. Visiting with dramatic relatives is exhausting.

I understand completely. A family member has a limited diet for important health reasons. Many is the time that relative sat through holiday meals, pretending to eat. Eventually I started bringing foods he could eat, without getting permission, as it was always denied previously.

Only you know the whole climate of the situation, but if you do as you husband suggests and bring a dish for all, I would hope he would bring it in and hand it to his brother or sister-in-law. Perhaps a simply "We are so grateful for the invitation, WE couldn't help ourselves." Whatever you do, do it together, "innocently". All my best.

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answers from Boston on

I would just claim that you are on a special diet and bring what you need to eat. There's no need to be hungry because she's a lousy host and not gracious enough to allow guests to bring other dishes. I host holiday dinners, lots of family members have special diets out of need or preference, and I try to accommodate everyone but if someone wants to bring something to share or for themselves, I welcome it. If the visit is short enough that you can eat before and/or after and not be hungry then do that but if you're there for hours and hours and hours and hours, do what you need to do and don't worry about Ms. Grumpypants.

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answers from Miami on

I attended a party in which a mom brought her own cookies and cupcakes for her kids, and offered anyone else to eat from there if they wanted. At first, people looked at her weird, like she thought her food was better, but she politely explained that they had gluten allergies and that excessive sugar made them hyper, so they could not eat what was being served. No one got mad, some of us tried those cookies and cupcakes and they were actually better than the kind that were bought from the bakery, despite having less sugar. The host even asked for the recipe so she could make them at home for her family!

Tell them the truth, that your diet doesn't allow you to consume carbs (you don't owe them an explanation as to why that is), and that you're bringing some veggies for yourself to consume with the ham on the table...and you'll be bringing enough veggies for anyone else who is on such a diet to be able to enjoy as well, so they don't feel left out. Many people may be vegetarian, while others prefer a well-rounded diet, and the fiber from veggies. I don't see what could possibly be considered offensive about someone needing to follow a certain diet, and yet bringing enough of their food item to share, if need be.

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answers from Washington DC on

Personally? When I host a dinner? I try to make sure EVERYONE is included. I think your sister is rude for NOT doing a better job of taking care of everyone.

i would bring a salad and a veggie and fruit tray. So what if she's not happy? it's NOT just about HER!! hell, I'd probably even bring deviled eggs. I'd tell my SIL that I need more than just ham and potatoes.I would tell her that I am on a no-carb diet and that she has two choices - either allow us to bring something we can eat and share or we don't come. It's not about drama or a "throw down" it's about the host respecting other people's palettes and tastes as well as diet.

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answers from Boston on

At this point, when your offers have been rejected, you jus accept that your idea of a dinner is 180 degrees from hers, and she's not willing to accommodate you. She has refused your wish to bring food.

So, you either don't go (as she is refusing to come to Christmas), or you go and make whatever arrangements you need to for you to eat. So eat, in the car and have a cooler for the ride home as well. Eat what she serves that you can manage. If there's something you generally don't eat but can stomach once a year for the sake of being polite, great - have a small slice of pie and a piece of bread, and smile. If there are things that make you ill or are totally off your diet per your doctor, just smile and say, "No thanks" or "looks yummy but my doctor says no," and pass it to the next person, changing the subject immediately to "I love your window treatments, Suzanne" or "So, how is little Janie enjoying dance lessons?" Don't say you ate in the car or think it's ridiculous that there's not a vegetable in sight, even though both are true. If you have kids, DO NOT let them say you ate in the car.

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answers from Norfolk on

Just bring what you need and damn the torpedos!

It's perfectly fine to bring a salad or side dish to share - and if no one else wants any - who cares?
It's not great for the hostess to be throwing a hissy fit when people bring more than she's asking for.

If it's like this all the time - and you don't want to keep doing this - then only accept the invite every other year.
Holidays should be fun.
If family get together s are not fun - then stop or cut down on doing that.

Actually - it might be a good thing if family gatherings are whittled down to a 4th of July picnic reunion once every 5 years.
A lot of the time once every 5 years is about all everyone can stand.

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answers from New York on

Just bring something you like for everyone don’t ask. If I’m going somewhere I ask what I can bring. If host says oh nothing, we are good, I bring something. It’s just what I do.

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answers from Atlanta on

I think your SIL/BIL are RUDE. I'd bring what I wanted and enough to share. I'd tell her that I truly appreciate her hosting the parties, however, other people's diets need to be considered when having it. This isn't like you're diabetic, but you are going no-carb, right? Like gluten free? There has to be variety. That's MY opinion though. I can't imagine having people over and not having a veggie and fruit platter. that is weird to me. those are like the STAPLES of a get together! LOL!!

Family get togethers aren't about what the host wants. it's about EVERYONE.

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answers from Santa Fe on

I would just bring a big green salad and a veggie dish like green beans and tell them your diet means you cannot eat carbs so bread, potatoes, etc are out for you. Let them be mad if they really want to. That is ridiculous if they get mad though. I think if she gets that pissed off at you for bringing a veggie then she has issues and is a rude person. I would think it's really nice if you brought over a veggie/salad/whatever to share. Do this every year. Don't ask. Just bring food If she makes too big of a fuss spend Easter with other people who are more kind. PS - some people eat like this. My SIL said her mom never served a vegetable or fruit for her entire childhood. It was always food like fried chicken and french fries. Or hamburgers and chips. She said she was totally amazed when she saw us putting a veggie and/or fruit on our kids' plates at every meal. She now does this with her own kids. PS -- After reading your last paragraph I would be tempted to spend Easter at home or with friends and not with these people!

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answers from Washington DC on


i mean, if they don't want to provide food their guests will like (a must in my book) then it's ridiculously passive aggressive to decline your offer to bring it.

i myself at this point would make my small 'rudeness' less rude than their glaring one, and bring a dish that i could eat. let them be pissy if they want to.

eating in the car could be construed as martyr-ish. but depending on the dynamic, i guess that's a solution too.

but i haven't done Awkward Family Holiday Meals since my kids were little. i simply instituted the rule that i wanted our family to enjoy all holidays in our own family space, and that anyone who wanted to visit was welcome.

saved myself all manner of sticky issues.

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answers from New York on

"Eating in the car" sounds a bit dramatic / in your dh's face. Why not just eat a hefty breakfast/lunch at home earlier in the day and eat again at home before bed if needed? You're not hiking Mount Everest, you're going to a dinner party for a few hours...you don't need to "pack snacks".

And then enjoy the ham and try to avoid "sharp comments" in any direction.

ETA: Ah okay I see the timeline need for eating in the car. Well then, I think that sounds fine. Rather than spending time making side dishes that won't be appreciated.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Given the history, I think your plan of bringing food to eat in the car is the best option.

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answers from Las Vegas on

My son and his wife are Vegan. She always brings a ton of food with them because I'm not a vegan cook. I have no problem with her bringing what she wants for herself and her family, she cooks it up and serves them without being a bother about whatever I have cooking.
You said you brought a salad FIVE years ago and your SIL got mad? Well, that was FIVE years ago, let it go. You have all matured past that point by now.
Besides, Easter is for family getting together, not really about the food. Good luck.
DO NOT SIT IN THE CAR like a child and eat. That is very ridiculous.

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answers from Reading on

Hmm, other than the diet choices, your sister-in-law sounds like my sister. Are we related?

I love my sister, but she struggles with giving up control and accepting family members she conflicts with. I'm the only one she doesn't seem to badmouth, and she probably does behind my back, but I really don't care that much because that's who she is. Stop trying so hard. You do you. If eating in the car makes you more comfortable than openly eating in front of her, then do that. It's kind of aggressive and sends a clear message if you bring your own food to make a point. If you want to send that message, do it. If you don't, eat in the car. Either way, sounds like you have bigger problems with her (or she with you) than just food. She sounds like she hates you for some reason, or feels threatened by you. In the case of my sister, she'd be hating you. And since she doesn't seem phased about sending you a message by choosing the dog over you, I'd probably be bringing my food and offering it to others as a side. Frankly, I wouldn't care. I don't have time or patience for games.

ETA: by the way, my mother used to get so angry if guests brought food because she had worked it all out in advance and there wasn't room on the table for additional dishes. She considered it rude. I always thought that was an odd reaction to people being friendly, but she is very shy and socially awkward. My sister now is similar, but not because she's shy or socially awkward - she's just bitchy. Luckily, I don't care and love her anyway, and she'd acknowledge it herself.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Is it that you don't *like* those foods, or is it that you are on a diet plan that doesn't allow certain kinds of foods (all the foods you mentioned are loaded with carbohydrates, is why I ask).
It seems she isn't very gracious. And you are in a no win situation. I would not eat in the car before. That's absurd if you have to drive 4 hours there and back. If the husband moved it specifically so you could make it, maybe you could reach out to him (or have your husband reach out? I'm not sure how the relations work..) and just say, look, "I don't want to offend anybody but I/she just can't eat the carbohydrates (or whatever the issue is). I/she would love to bring an additional salad or vegetable that is conducive to her staying on her eating/diet plan, for everyone to share, but it upset the wife last time. Can you talk to her? Otherwise, we'll have to leave early so I/she can get something else to eat, and we want to stay and visit as much as possible. Don't want to put anyone else out by expecting them to cater to this need, we will be more than happy to bring something."

I mean.. otherwise, you'll just have to leave early. I find it rude that she is so controlling over this. Most people would be glad for a little help. But, your choices are still you're choices. Let them know up front you may be leaving early if there isn't food for you to eat. And then do it. Maybe they'll get the picture.
Sorry, sounds like they suck.

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answers from Kansas City on

Since it's strained already, I'd say yes, go ahead and bring food to eat in the car before and after. And if it's a week later than actual Easter you'll probably have more luck finding fast food and other options that might be open if you want something hot.

I feel like you have to go with your instincts on this one. If you really think it will cause drama, just don't do it. You don't need the extra stress on your plate with your dad and you don't want your kids seeing family drama.

I see a couple people posted about your diet not allowing you to eat carbs...I don't see that in your question, but if that is the case, I might change my answer. If so then I might actually just tell the hostess hey I am not eating (can't eat??) carbs right now and I was planning on bringing some salad (or veggies), I hope that doesn't mess up your plan too much...is there something specific you'd like me to bring because I'll bring enough to share?? Or something like that.

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answers from Springfield on

Would it really be so bad to eat something not on your diet just one day each year? I mean, if it's because you're allergic or have a glutton intolerance or just really don't like those foods (I'm a picky eater, so there are some foods I absolutely do not like to eat!), that's one thing. But if it's just because you avoid those foods in order to try to be healthy, will one day be so bad?

If it's a health reason or a picky eater reason (which I think is valid), ask your husband to talk to his brother and let him know that you simply cannot eat those foods and you really must have your salad or veggies or fruit (or whatever)!

If it's a weight thing, I'm pretty sure one day isn't going to make that much of a difference.

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