I watch someone's children on Sundays while the mother is still home doing some writing and to get in some personal time for herself. For the first few weeks, I ate lunch with them. The mother would prepare meals and we'd all eat together family style.
She'd make foods like leftover mac and cheese, chicken nuggets or fish sticks from the freezer, pasta of some sort, sushi made with hot dogs and mayo...you get the idea. To be polite, I used to just eat the food because I felt like it would be rude to tell her, "I think the food you make is disgusting and I'm trying to be healthy...so hey, can I bring my own food?" However, this just made me feel terrible and I couldn't handle it much longer because eating those foods set me up for a binge after I left the house.
I decided in December to tell her that while visiting home that I would be seeing a doctor I had seen previously for an intestinal issue a while back when I was still in college near home because of flare-up symptoms. After the holidays, BAM, I told her about some tests that had been performed and that I needed to avoid certain foods to avoid further intestinal distress.
Then I started to bring my own food and felt much better. I was still eating with them and I also didn't resort to hurting the mom's hospitality and intended kindness.
I still stand that I didn't really MAKE IT UP or lie. It's completely true...I cannot handle that type of food and be healthy.
I can understand why people are tempted to tell this kind of a lie, but it does cause some harm. I have celiac disease, and truly cannot tolerate any gluten. People know this about me (my family, coworkers, etc). They have learned to accept this, and know that I would never, ever itentionally ingest gluten.
I also can't have dairy and soy- now, these are intolerances, and not a disease. I still choose to never eat these items- they make me ill.
Many people have started claiming intolerances, but "cheat" publicly (and privately, no doubt). It's these seemingly harmless (to them) indulgences that cause those who don't consider their nutritional health paramount to question our motives. ('our' referring to my fellow celiacs). If I was simply paleo by choice I would say this- I think that the only people who should be ashamed of their dietary choices are those who refuse to recognize that it IS a choice, and nourishing food can be used to heal the body.
It's truly unfortunate that people feel obligated to lie instead of sharing their reality. Something is very wrong with a society that would rather accept you are different because of a disease than by choice. At the end of the day, who are these strangers- or worse, friends and family - who judge our meal choices? When did dining out become more about scrutinizing other's choices than enjoying food and company?
I can handle the silliness of being accused of avoiding gluten free to stay thin. I can graciously handle the bizarre and well intentioned (though very flawed)food gifts like whole wheat crusted pies by relatives who just don't have the information to understand celiacs, or listen to my paleo 'evangelism'. But have you ever been given a meal by a trusted friend who knew your issues and intentionally disregarded your needs because they thought "you were like her friend who avoided x ingredient, but could actually eat it and was just picky'.
please, if you are claiming an illness you don't suffer from, consider this: if your actions are selfish in nature, and your claims used to protect yourself from perceived embarassment, IT WILL NOT GET EASIER, and every time you allow yourself a 'little cheat' you are doing a disservice to those of us with real underlying medical issues. Please be proud of your choices and stop this wishy washy behavior: if it's a choice, stand proud. You owe no one an explanation. You are fortunate to be able to make that decision consciously without nature deciding for you.
--stepping off soapbox--
I don't lie about my reasons for eschewing certain foods, but that doesn't mean I'm always forthcoming about being "paleo" or "primal" or whatever I am. I can think of a hundred different ways to address this situation--some of which others have already suggested here--without needing to lie, nor to reveal my personal issues. Personally, I don't want the tangled web someone else suggested, whereby one sets one's self up for exposure later when one decides to try a treat meal.
"I've made some big changes to my diet, and so far it seems to really be helping. I can't say I'll never eat hot dog-mayo sushi (really??) again, but I'd really like to stick with this for awhile to see how it goes."
Later I'm spotted in a moment of weakness, judgement clouded by alcohol, ordering the hot dog-mayo sushi. "It's been months since I've had it--I thought I'd try it again to see what happens. I may never touch it again...."
Having said that, I find the lectures about lying, and particulalry this notion of the "disservice" done to people with celiac disease, et al., rather a stretch. We don't owe anyone else this supposed service. And it's not my job to use my dietary preferences in some ambassador role, nor to function as some sort of role model for healthy eating. If that's what people get from me when they see my improved health, and strange diet, great! And if they ask me, I'm all too happy to spread the word. But I don't owe them that. This isn't the same thing as Paula Deen, who lied for years about her health in order to protect a commercial enterprise, and then used that situation to further enrich herself by profitting from the sale of the drugs treating her condition.
Here, we're discussing a white lie, told in part to spare another person needless guilt or shame. This does no "disservice" to people with true celiac disease, et al.--it's not even about those people. It's between two people negotiating their lunch. The OP's white lie in no way precludes true celiacs from, upon meeting someone offering food, truthfully claiming their legitimate conditions. This seems a classic example of making a mountain of a molehill.
Philosophers and clerics will debate lies forever, but contemporary society seems to fully embrace the white lie told to avoid unnecessary and pointless pain, discomfort, or embarrassment.
"What do you think of my new jeans?" [I think they make you look like too much sausage stuffed into too small a casing.] "They're very stylish--are they Levis?"
In the OP's case, a small untruth, in a private setting, between two people for whom the basis of the untruth does not constitute a truly significant or necessary part of the relationship, seems compassionate to me. Something can be both compassionate and self-serving at the same time. I don't feel we can reasonably liken a white lie such as this to, say, marital (or romantic) infidelity. Anyone wagging that accusatory finger will have a difficult time claiming they themselves never lie.
Who among us hasn't excused ourselves from a conversation with the claim that we are busy or running late, or something similar? When we do so, do we do a disservice to truly busy people? Or do most of us agree that this lie seems preferable to saying, "I'm tired of talking to you now?"
I don't think there is anything wrong with "making up" allergies or intollerances.
Sometimes you just don't want to have the whole nutrition/ Paleo conversation. Sometimes you don't want to offend people. It's not always appropriate to go into exactly what you eat and why.
I don't think it's really a lie anyway - we all fare better without this food, for all sorts of reasons - or we wouldn't be avoiding it.
I find there are many ways of saying it in a way that's not lying, but also doesn't seem like you're just being frivolous and picky. I have said all of these at one time or another:
I'm not really eating X these days, just doesn't agree with me; I'm trying to avoid X, I don't feel so great when I eat it; I just have a hard time digesting X; I don't seem to handle X well; X just doesn't sit well with me; I'm not so great with X; I'd prefer not to eat X, but I'm fine with A, B, C; I just don't feel well after eating X.
And usually when I say these things I gesture to my gut, so they know it's a digestive issue, not a limited palate or an eating disorder.
I just tell people - sorry I can't eat that - it's on my "no-no list". Then when they look at me with the usual confused look I tell them I'm on a restrictive diet for health reasons. Most don't want to pry into my health issues so I don't offer up any further info:-)
If you say "thanks but unfortunately ____ makes me sick" with a serious but nonchalant 'I've said this a million times before' kind of way, I find most folks wont prod any further. And its a totally true statement. Let them think you're either some kind of health nut of fragile creature.
Trying to explain yourself to everyone you ever share a meal with gets tiring.
Yes. Kinda. I tell people I'm sensitive to gluten if they ask why I got the burger without the bun, or why I'm not picking at the stale bread basket. It's not a lie: though I've never been tested for any sort of gluten intolerance or allergy, I'm definitely sensitive to it. If people press, I make it clear I'm not allergic but that it bothers me big time so I just don't eat it.
Should you feel bad about making up your story? No way. Like you said, you can't eat that stuff and feel healthy. It's a win-win for everyone, no harm, no foul!
I was tested for celiac a few years ago and the test came back negative, but upon telling my neurologist (who has been treating me for my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia since 2008) that my symptoms had improved quite a bit upon removing all grains, he told me that I was "probably gluten sensitive", that false negatives on those tests happen, and to "keep it up". So I got a half-assed diagnosis, which I do use, but for the other stuff, which just contains crap that I don't want in my body, I give a few different politely-used explanations for why I'm refusing to eat it, all of which are usually true:
"I'm not hungry."
"I don't feel very well when I eat that."
"I heard that that exacerbates [whatever condition it pertains to] so I avoid it." (I used this recently with someone who offered me something with aspartame in it. "I've read that that can cause headaches, so I've been avoiding it just to be safe.")
It seems that just trying to be healthy is something sort of elitist and suspect in Western culture (especially as a teenager), and I've found that people don't really take me seriously if I cite preventative health as a reason. Citing the effects that a food or ingredient has given me, rather than ones I "think" they will, gets more results. So yes, I guess I stretch the truth in that I mention physiological reactions to foods with which I haven't done experiments to test how my health directly correlates with the consumption of each and every one of them, but I know that I feel better not eating them and that's enough for me.
I do it all the time! I think people react better to "I'm sensitive to gluten" versus "I'm on a paleo diet". Although, like others have mentioned, stating that you have a sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods isn't necessarily a flat out lie.