When the Menu’s Not Your Plan

One of the most embarrassing moments in my dieting life occurred during the first week of my Atkins regimen the one where no carbohydrates are allowed and any slip can ruin the whole test, putting you back to “start” on the diet game board. And I can assure you I wasn’t about to go back there, for the whole first week got complicated as you have seen.

But I got invited to dinner at the house of a friend who prides herself on her gourmet cooking and exotic menus.

And this is what was served:

Drinks

Quiche Lorraine

Argentine meat stew made with tomatoes, corn, catsup, potatoes

Vegetables

Green salad with tomatoes and onions

Chocolate mousse

I stared. And I was horrified. For, as you can clearly see, there was not one item well, there was one, but I was too new in the game to spot it that I could eat. I sat there stupefied and wondering how to get out of it all. To further complicate matters, this friend lived in a suburb of New York, so I couldn’t even plead a headache and call a cab, and head for home and no-carbohydrate tranquility in my own kitchen.

Would you like to know what I did? I asked for two hard-boiled eggs. I am sure you can imagine the embarrassment of such a situation, not only to me, but to my hostess. But wasn’t it lucky that she is one of my oldest and dearest friends, as were all the other dinner guests? Never mind. I was forgiven, though I got a lot of merciless ribbing just the same. But I got my eggs and my diet-trial was saved. On my next visit, Dr. Atkins informed me that I could have eaten the Quiche Lorraine and left the crust. I suppose I was not, at that point, cook or carbohydrate knowledgeable enough to know. Better luck next time.

There is a moral to this story. If you are on the first week of your absolutely wo-carbohydrate regimen, it is perhaps best to avoid at-home dinner invitations. (In restaurants, you have the choice.)

During your entire low-carbohydrate life, it is often wise to level with the hostess. It will save you both the kind of situation I so unwittingly got myself into. If she plans to serve a one-course meal of spaghetti and meatballs, then you can arrive after dinner. (Even the meatballs will be tomato paste-covered and you can’t have that.)

Most friends if they’re friends enough to have invited you to dinner in the first place are understanding on such matters. Usually they’re interested in how you’re losing weight anyway and are not only eager to help but anxious to learn how you’re doing it.

At any well-planned dinner party, there’s a meat course and a salad you can eat if all else turns out to be sweet or starch. But beware of hostesses who have reputations for serving Chinese food that is loaded with sugar or one-course dinners consisting of such things as tuna-noodle casseroles, or hostesses who simply don’t plan well and offer potatoes, corn, etc., all in one meal. When in doubt, explain your problem to your hostess and let her tell you what’s for dinner.

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