When it comes to other people cooking for me, I’ve tried various tacks ranging from saying nothing and hoping I can eat around whatever has been made (bad idea if it’s lasagne) to offering to bring my own food (which makes some hosts feel uncomfortable.). But over the years I have hatched some survival strategies to make life easier for everyone.
1. Be really clear – and make a list
The most important thing is to be really clear – even if that means making a list. At the start, I was so shy about being demanding that my lovely mother-in-law would forever be producing things like specially sourced spelt croissants (which I can’t eat) because I hadn’t been precise.
2. Talk to your host
Although it can feel awkward, I talk to my host about what they are cooking and suggest ways that I can eat around it (if it’s chicken or fish then maybe I can have it without the sauce, say) which feels much better than expecting them to organise a meal around me.
3. Bring back-up
If I’m staying overnight, I always bring a bag of staples – tins of haricot beans and tuna, avocado, cucumber, eggs and cheddar – to knock up an omelette or salad if need be (so much less awkward than being a martyr and going hungry if there really is nothing you can eat on offer). I also bring fruit and nuts for snacks as there is nothing worse than being hungry.
4. Bring a treat (that you can eat)
I often bake a cake for my host (that I can eat too). This chocolate orange cake is gluten free and dairy free, and you wouldn’t even know the difference.
5. Offer to cook
If I’m staying for more than a night I sometimes offer to cook one night, which is a nice way of saying thanks for having me, but also a good way to relieve the stress for them of wondering what the heck to cook for such a high-maintenance guest.
6. Relax (and so will everyone)
I try not to make other people feel bad about eating the things that I can’t have (and I’ve just about managed to get out of the habit of asking my husband if I can sniff his toast or chocolate cake!).
Can you relate to Tory? Are you that ‘high maintenance’ visitor? Share your tips for how you manage it on our Facebook page or Twitter using @womanandhome.