Dear Abby | Food-loving family makes no exception for special diet

Dear Abby: I am a diagnosed narcoleptic. Medication helps with the symptoms, but not entirely. I looked into alternative options and found a fantastic diet. I recently went on it with amazing results.

My dad’s side of the family is Italian, and a huge part of the culture is food. During celebrations, it’s considered offensive to refuse food, and my family has always looked down on diets. If a family member is on one, they’ll argue that it’s a special occasion, and it’s only for one day.

If I try to turn something down, I get attacked because “Grandma made it,” or “It’s your favorite and we made it for you.” I have tried explaining to them that I don’t want them to alter their dinner arrangements to accommodate me, but I should be allowed to forgo eating foods that will make me feel like a zombie. They just don’t get it, and it has caused arguments. How do I reopen this discussion without offending anyone? – Panicked Over Pasta

Dear P. Over P.: Do it before the celebration by calling your hosting family member and explaining that there are now foods you cannot eat because of your diagnosed medical condition. Explain that you know they would not feed certain foods to a diabetic, and you need the same dispensation.

Dear Abby: Six months ago, my friend “Lindy’s” husband committed suicide. I have been there for her and understand it takes time, but I’m reaching my limit.

I make plans with her for dinners at our home and at restaurants and have planned various outings. However, she constantly manipulates, yells at me when she doesn’t get her way, and uses the loss of her husband as a rationale for why I and others must do what she wants regardless of what’s happening in our own lives, and expects us to tolerate this behavior.

She’s pushing people away and quite vicious about it, but doesn’t see that she’s doing it to herself. How long must I tolerate her grieving process before enough is enough? – Confused in New York

Dear Confused: When Lindy becomes manipulative or abusive, you are within your rights to call her on it and take a step back. For your own sake, you shouldn’t continue to allow her to mistreat you.