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RE: "Friends and FF"

I've also had problems with eating fatfree in restaurants or at friend's
places.  I was never taught to bring my own food to the dinner parties
at friend's houses and I feel really uncomfortable bringing food.
Usually, my friends will mention if the party is potluck and luckily, a
lot of the parties are potluck-type parties.  We don't like to have the
burden of cooking for a dozen people left to one person.  

But, for formal dining where I've been invited to dine at someone's
house, I don't know how I'd go about bringing a dish.  I would be
comfortable telling them of my dietary restrictions and if they serve
food that I cannot eat, I usually drink a lot of water, take few nibbles
(vegetarian) to fight off any questions, and just join conversation as
if I've forgotten about my food.  The idea is to look comfortable.  They
might ask later if something was wrong with the food (usually not in
front of the other guests) and I can choose my reply.

In restaurants, I try to find something that I can eat.  I have steamed
vegetables or noodles (w/o butter) or salad or I find something that I
can actually eat.  A lot of times, I bring my own salad dressing for
safety or I use vinegar.  Usually, I'm eating out with my SO, but lately
I've been eating out with other friends.  I find it extremely difficult.
We pick a place to eat and I plan my meal ahead of time.  When we start
towards our destination, they change their minds at the last minute and
we end up somewhere else.  I usually have to agonize over the menu and
try to get the waiter to cooperate.  I try to keep the friends on the
chosen restaurant, but the group mind ends up changing the location
usually.  This set of friends are the young mainly male crowd who don't
think deeply on these issues.  They try to accommodate my needs, but
have a difficult time realizing when they make my life more difficult.
They do usually try to pick restaurants that they think that I can eat
at.  Their choices are usually really bad, but at least they try.

I have another set of friends who are easier to dine with.  They have
the potlucks, dine at veggie friendly restaurants, and ask me my dietary
needs.  They have friends or relatives who are on the McDougall or
Ornish diets and they feel that my friendship is more important than a
rigid menu.  In fact, I attended an outdoor party for one of these
friends.  She had veggie dishes, but they were all high fat.  The party
was extremely informal and she did not pay attention to what people ate.
I ate carrot sticks.  Later, when we were helping her clean up, she was
handing out the extra food.  She asked me if I wanted anything and I
said that I couldn't take it.  She wanted to know why and I explained
that I was on the McDougall Maximum Weight loss plan.  She is planning
her birthday party for this coming Wednesday and has asked everyone to
bring a dish (stating specifically to me that she thought that this way
I can bring something that fits my dietary restrictions).  Friends try
to work within your needs.

At work, they stopped ordering the vegetarian options for meetings
because most of the food that they order is extremely high fat (pizza,
chinese food, etc.).  Recently, we had an offsite teambuilding at a
local company.  The options were western for one day and
hawaiian/jamacian for the next day.  I asked if they had vegetarian
options and was told "no" (they did not ask the company).  I brought my
own brown bag and discretely emptied hummus, taboleh on my plate while
everyone else entered the buffet.  By the time the others came back, I
was ready to eat.  I was asked where I found that food and I explained
that I had brought it myself.  The next day, did the same.  The mocha
cake that they placed in front of me remained untouched (extremely
difficult to do).  I started the conversation and kept it going.
Acquaintances don't care about your needs and just ignore them.