We have a Halloween pot luck coming up and I can't figure out which approach I should take.
Abstaining from the pot luck & eating lunch alone in my office (which is my usual tactic) OR
Signing up to bring a delish paleo dish (I'm thinking a pumpkin chicken chili) and eating ONLY that, while turning down all of the food everyone else worked hard to make and bring (and shaking off the "c'mon, one little bite won't hurt you!")?
The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone's feelings or to appear standoffish or snotty about my food choices. So which is the better approach? Which is less attention-grabbing & perceptible as "rude."
For what it's worth, I'm one in an office of 40-45 people.
Sign up and bring something awesome and also paleo. If you are going to feel bad about not buying in to the dessert scene (cookies/pie) bring a paleo dessert as well.
Nobody is going to notice you're not eating anything specific. If they do tell them you have a wheat allergy.
If you don't make a scene there won't be one. Just enjoy the food and hope someone else brings meat.
Don't let paleo make you into some social pariah. You certainly can eat things that appear "paleo" enough, and you're not likely going to suffer any major consequences.
You don't want to socially isolate yourself and it is likely with a group that size there will be at least a few other things you can eat. I do think there are some situations where it may be better to just skip it, but that should be the exception--not the rule--and, I really don't think this is one of them. In a group that size, it seems unlikely anyone is going to focus in on what you are eating.
If someone tries to give you something you don't want, just say no thank you (don't give reasons! That just opens it up for discussion). If someone asks if you tried some particular dish you can just something like, "no, but it looks wonderful" then ask them a question about themselves. If there is a hard core food pusher you don't want (or can't afford job-wise) to offend you can always claim you are full, but agree to take some for "later" (then drop it in the trash when convenient).
I agree with most of the above comments: be social, eat what you deem acceptable, and politely turn down things you are avoiding.
If all the food pushers start stressing you out, excuse yourself ("I've got a lot of work" or "I need to run an errand before day's end" etc.) and take a break.
A lot of what I've seen lately about paleo/primal is that part of the lifestyle is keeping stress levels down and enjoying life. So, enjoy your coworkers' company, have some yummy (acceptable) food, and bolt when you've had your fill. 8)
Last time I worked in an office I brought some paleo treats for the potluck and turns out another woman had brought "paleo" gluten-free cookies. I had never met her before (big office), so I not only had something to eat, I got to talk to someone about paleo. I ate mostly those + my stuff + the cheese plate. Oh, and drank some wine. No one really noticed that I wasn't eating the cake.
I have to go to a lot of buffet type social functions, and I find it is never a problem. As others have said, there are always things there you can eat. I recommend filling your plate with safe food. You can even add some non paleo stuff that is not particularly appealing to you, and then never get around to eating it. If someone urges you to try something, decline politely. In the past four years, I have only felt compelled to eat something out of bounds at two social occasions. These were sit down dinners, and I chose to honor the trouble the hosts had gone to and eat a small piece of dessert. I survived :)
Participate! Bring something paleo and delicious.
If it's all junk then make a big plate of it, eat what you brought, and take the rest back to your desk. Who knows you may trip and spill it in a trash can on the way to your desk. Accidents happen.
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