Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
Many of the scenarios we talk about here at Beyond Soy deal with food that other people provide, such as catering, eating out, and eating at a friends house. Today we are sharing a strategy to ensure you always have some food to eat in these scenarios, even if the provided food has soy. That strategy is: the backup snack.
The backup snack is a nonperishable food that you bring when you will be in a situation where you are dependent on other people for food (and can’t be absolutely certain they will provide soy-free food).
The goal of a backup snack is to ensure that you have soy-free food available even if all the provided food options contain soy. To create a backup snack, bring a nonperishable food item with you whenever you have plans to eat, but no guarantee that the food will be soy-free. If the provided food is soy-free, you can save your backup snack for later since it is nonperishable. If you assess the provided food and determine that nothing is certainly soy-free, you have a few options:
- You can go hungry (not ideal for several reasons).
- You can knowingly eat soy (or make your best guess at what could possibly be soy-free and eat that).
- You can bring a little bit of food that you know is soy-free… your backup snack! If there isn’t any food you can eat, just break out your backup snack to take the edge off your hunger.
A backup snack both ensures soy-free food will be available when you count on having some food to eat and eases uncomfortable situations by removing the burden on the people you are with (hosts, friends, etc.) to cater to your dietary needs. While it isn’t fair to spring her soy intolerance on someone at the last minute, it can sometimes feel like overstepping to announce Ashley’s soy intolerance to every single event planner--especially for large events. A backup snack helps bridge the gap between these options. Ashley is guaranteed to have at least a small amount of soy-free food and the host doesn’t need to scramble to find a soy-free option with no notice. This way, the backup snack relieves social pressure on hosts, who might not understand food intolerances or allergies. Of course in a hosting-type situation many hosts will go out of their way to accommodate you (much like when eating at a restaurant). The backup snack should only be used when all reasonable options have been tried without any luck, and since it is nonperishable, it is safe to save for later if soy-free food is available.
It still can be awkward or uncomfortable to eat a backup snack, especially since it is most often needed in a social situation. When Ashley and I go out to dinner by ourselves, we are comfortable leaving a restaurant if nothing on the menu is soy-free. We aren’t going to stay for a meal if she can’t order anything. However, when we are out with a larger group of people we aren’t going to make everyone pack up and leave if there isn’t a soy-free menu option. Instead, Ashley can break out her backup snack and eat what she can. A wedding is a great example of a situation where a backup snack might be helpful. As we’ve discussed previously, you may not be able to tell what the wedding meal is ahead of time, and it may contain soy. Rather than cutting the night short because you can’t eat anything, having a backup snack allows you to replace dinner to the best of your ability (of course it isn’t a complete replacement) and lets you to enjoy the wedding.
There is actually a fair amount of tact required when using a backup snack, especially in a situation where someone is hosting you. Don’t be embarrassed by eating your backup snack (or not being able to eat any of the provided food), but also be sure to respect your host. You need to be clear that you are eating your own food out of necessity, not out of personal preference. This may lead to a larger conversation about your food allergy or intolerance, and that is okay! If you have that conversation now, you might not need to use your backup snack in the future. Also, remember to replace your backup snack if you use it!
What should you pack as a backup snack? Picking a backup snack can be challenging because nonperishable foods tend to be more likely to contain soy. Depending on the event or activity, you could bring a more perishable food (like fresh fruit), but make sure that it doesn’t go bad if you don’t end up needing it! (we tend to prefer a nonperishable food that Ashley just keeps in her purse.) Some backup snack options are: Pro Bars, fruit-nut bars, almonds, peanuts, cashews, and dried fruit.
When is a good time to bring a backup snack? Anytime you are planning on food being available, but you can’t be certain that the food will be soy-free. There will be times when you just decide to pass on the provided food and that is okay. The backup snack is there for when you need to eat something, but there is nothing else available to eat. Some situations that we recommend having a backup snack available for are: going to eat at a friend’s house (when they don’t know/aren’t comfortable about cooking soy-free), going out to eat with friends (we always try to smartly pick a place, but sometimes you don’t have an option), weddings, conferences, road trips, etc.
With a backup snack in your pocket, you can be comfortable going to an event with food knowing that you will have something to eat, even if the provided food isn’t soy-free.