Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
Living and eating soy-free can have the unfortunate result of sometimes needing to turn down food that is offered to you. Just like how eating with friends and family can be challenging, it can feel really hard to turn down food that is offered to you. What makes it hard is that the person offering the food is usually just trying to be nice, and it can feel almost disrespectful to turn it down. There are two main ways that food is offered: common element food and a personal offering.
Common Element Food
A great example of common element food is food that is left in the kitchen at work. This is food that you can swing by and grab on your own and on your own schedule. Other good example of common element food are grocery store samples and even buffets. When faced with common element food, take your time to determine if the food is soy-free. You can read the ingredient list (if available), ask about the ingredients (if someone is around), and use our soy-free eating tips to decide if the food is soy-free. Ultimately, you can take time to make a decision and shouldn’t feel pressured to eat.
A Personal Offering
Personally offered food is much more challenging. Personally offered food might be someone stopping by your desk to offer you some food, a friend telling you to grab a cookie at a potluck, or maybe even a bakery offering you a sample when you walk in the door. Not only do you have to make a quick decision about the offered food, but you can also feel bad for saying “no” to the person standing right there.
Personal food offerings usually come from people who you know. Friends and family members might know you are soy-free and still offer you food that contains soy. When it is people we know, we try to explain why we can't eat the offered food. If we teach the people around us about soy, future conversations about food become easier. When we turn down food, we'll say something like "thanks for the offer, but the chocolate chips in those cookies contain soy". The explanation helps explain why we are turning the food down, and also helps the other person learn about soy. Because we say things like this all the time, our friends and family have become comfortable talking about soy. Even if they don’t understand the ins and outs of eating soy-free, they will bring it up when talking about food. We tend to get a lot of food offers that say “feel free to have a cookie if you’d like, but I’m not sure if they have soy”. This sort of offer feels much easier to respond to, since it recognizes that we have food constrains, and it opens the conversation up to what food options we are able to eat.
Offered food isn't only an issue with people you know. When we were recently in Scotland, Ashley and I went into a candy store that was selling fudge. The ingredients weren't listed and we were trying to figure out if any of the varieties were soy-free when the person behind the counter offered us a sample. We felt a little awkward, looked at each other for a minute before we asked about the ingredients. The employee determined that the sample of fudge was soy-free, so we tried it, but then we left the shop without buying any fudge because we didn't want to have to ask about ingredients and make a quick decision each time they asked us to try some fudge.
Turning down food that is offered to you can be hard, but you shouldn’t feel bad for doing so. You should never feel pressured to eat something that might contain soy, so don’t feel bad about turning down food! And, if you feel comfortable doing so, give the reason why you aren’t taking the food so the people around you can learn about soy.