The Low Carb Dinner Party. Photo by Dana Robinsonsm

The Dinner Party

When you are following any type of diet, getting that dinner invitation can be something that will either be a source of joy – or one of despair!

Wanting to follow a low carbohydrate regime and still honour our hosts by eating the food that they have prepared can at first glance seem quite a difficult balancing act .

After all, if we have done any entertaining ourselves, we know full well how much effort goes into the preparation of a special meal for special guests

There’s the selection of the menu; the purchasing of the ingredients; the preparation, cooking and general hard work that goes into making a successful meal a pleasant and memorable occasion.

Some of us may run through the scenario in our minds of getting to our host’s table and finding that we are being served a huge bowl of pasta or another dish of rice, with freshly baked French crusty bread on the side and hardly a piece of meat or other vegetables in sight – apart from a very rich cornflower sauce.

Well, perhaps that’s a little extreme, but you know what imagination is like. Most of the time you will be faced with saying ‘no’ to the vegetables and ‘no’ to a large helping of pasta or rice to go with the dish. This refusal can actually put the hosts in an embarrassing situation and make everybody feel a tad uncomfortable. You attempting to refuse your host’s lovingly cooked food and your host feeling uncomfortable, perhaps because they think you may be going hungry.

But this whole situation is very easy to overcome. For as soon as you get the invitation to share a meal with your friends, pick up the phone and tell them there and then that in order to improve your health you are following a diet that restricts you from eating carbohydrates. When you say this, be prepared to answer the question ‘OK that’s no problem, but what can you eat?’

If you give them a list of the many things that you can eat on the Atkins all low carbohydrate diet, then you can totally hear the relief in their voice, as in fact the amount of things we can and do eat are still quite varied.

For instance, if you are invited around for this Sunday’s roast and you’ve already mentioned to your host that you prefer not to eat two potatoes and root vegetables, (depending on what part of the Atkins regime you are currently in) then don’t be surprised if your hosts have gone that bit further and maybe provided a couple of varieties of meat rather than some of our work and found out which are the lowest carbohydrate based vegetables and prepared those for you. They could have also carefully chosen a sweet that you could have a taste of, and they may have put nice selection of cheeses on the cheese board.

While this may seem quite selfish and seem like you are dictating to your hosts what they must eat and serve to their other guests, in actual fact you are probably helping them to break it out of a pattern that they will have been in for many years.

It appears that people get very comfortable in preparing something they know goes down well every time, so to have a gentle challenge and investigate alternatives, try new tastes etc, can actually be a win-win situation for both parties .

One thing you can be guaranteed of is that the conversation at the table will feature heavily upon the subject of your diet and if they have not seen you for a few weeks you can be sure that your trimmed down figure will also be a top topic at the table.

Bear in mind though, is not good to become a low carbohydrate bore. Do let other people bring other topics to the table – before long enough you’ll find them often returning to the subject of your new diet and how great you look.

Surprisingly enough, you may well find that you are invited back more quickly than usual, particularly if your hosts have been impressed enough with what you shared, maybe even wanting to try the diet themselves. If you think that this may be the case, you would do well to ensure that you let them have good information about the diet so that they can start properly and safely. Be prepared with some basic information should they decided that the diet is a good idea for them. And you could even give them the ‘How to do Atkins’ guide from this magazine. That will be a good start.

So to recap a little bit, when you get the invitation, inform your hosts about your dietary requirements. You might consider dropping around some basic information there and then so that they can plan the meal accordingly. Personally I tend to tell people that providing there is meat, fish, or something else on my permitted list, I honestly don’t mind not having to eat the vegetables.

When it comes to the sweets, depending on your local customs, you could always offer to bring the desert with you. This would of course ensure that your host is saved from doing the job and puts the desert completely under your control. So you both win on that count.

Whatever you do – enjoy your meal – even if you have to have a snack when you get back home.