In today’s video, I’m answering this question from a reader:

How do you handle situations where you know you will be eating at someone else’s home… and the home you are eating at does not eat whole foods? I am trying to get my family on a more whole food/healthy food diet but when we are out at friends or relatives we are served “regular” food.  What do you do when in these situations?

For those who didn’t watch the video, here is a quick synopsis of my thoughts on how our family eats well while in someone else’s home:

1. Bring some of your own foods.

Although you will need to carefully assess situations to see whether this will be an offense to your hosts or to the other people that you are with, but there are many situations where it isn’t. Breakfast is often a casual meal where you may be able to serve your family some free-range eggs or fresh fruit  (or whatever you like for breakfast) that you have brought yourself, with no offense or inconvenience to your hosts.

Snacks are definitely another opportunity to get the good stuff in. Bring homemade bars or muffins, nuts and dried fruit, fresh fruit or vegetables, etc. If you can’t bring these on your travels, then go out and purchase them once you arrive at your destination. I often make a quick grocery store stop when we arrive somewhere and pick up those things that I think will fit in well with our accomodation situation.

2. Offer to make a meal or help with the cooking.

One surefire way to ensure that healthier foods end up on the table is to volunteer your own services! Few people will reject a sincere offer to help with cooking. Also, it is always a kind gesture to purchase some or all of the foods yourself, and to help hosts with the costs of food during your stay.

Offer to make one meal a day, or to make a salad for dinner each night, or whatever you think might work well. I frequently cook when I stay with others, or at least help with the meal preparation.

This gives me at least some say in the food that is served, although I still always need to be sensitive to the plans and eating preferences of the host family. I don’t want to overthrow their own tastes and eating style or meals that they have already planned to serve. If they’re a strictly processed food family and I make them a pot of lentil stew with a large, dark green leafy salad, we might have some issues come dinnertime. Compromise, balance and thoughtfulness are keys to making this work.

3. The last (and most important) is to accept the food with graciousness.

When we are served food in someone else’s home, unless it is something that we absolutely cannot eat due to food allergies, we accept it with gratefulness. It will certainly not kill us to eat foods that are not our ideal for a meal, a day, even a week or two on vacation. But how quickly we could kill our relationships with others by making food a dividing or condemning issue.

In our own homes, we have complete control over what we buy and consume, but in another’s home I feel strongly that the best response is to graciously accept whatever you are offered, to thank your hosts, to thoroughly enjoy the meal and trust that our God is big enough to handle a little bit of processed food. He is the true guardian of our health, not us (as much as we are called to good stewardship).

I think some of us can struggle with being so principled in our eating that we let it become too large of an issue. When you’re struggling, just remind yourself, “people matter more than food“. Because they do.

How does your family handle eating situations where you are a guest in someone’s home? (And what are your summer travels plans?)