When Houseguests B.Y.O.S. (“Bring Your Own Sugar”)

So I offer to host Sunday dinner at my house for my brother’s and my family. My brother offers to cook. Nice, right? As kids, we used to go to our grandparents’ once a week for “pasta and Coke.” My grandfather made his unrepeatable sauce. My grandmother pulled out the linen tablecloth. It was special.

But how was I to encourage my brother to check the Coke at the door? I tried: “We are so excited to see you on Sunday. I will make a salad and pick up some ‘healthy soda’ (referring to cans of seltzer or a other no-sugar carbonated beverage that we’ve discovered at the grocery store).” He took the bait.

But when he showed up on Sunday with his pasta pot, fresh tomatoes, bread cloche, etc., he also had a six-pack of Coke. Foiled.

Then there was the neighbor who dropped off the leftover juiceboxes from her granddaughter’s visit. That one was a little easier. Accept. Pivot. Deep six before the kids see it.

Clearly, I’m not batting a thousand on this one.

This is when I turn to the answer machine: the Internet. While there are lots of way to get rid of mice, spiders, and unwanted houseguests, I found no help with bouncing uninvited sugary drinks.

Fortunately, I have friends in sugar-free places. Jasmine, a blogger friend at ChicagoParents.com, has these tips:

  • Make some "spa" water and offer choices that respect your home and rules. Friends and family will eventually get the hint. You may open a new world to them and help them make better choices.
  • If someone brings juice or pop to your home, ask them to take it back with them as your family prefers to drink water, milk, or whatever your choices are. “I know it is not easy,” she adds, “but stand your ground and be firm with kindness.”

I’m game. I can do this. Want to try with me? I'll report back in a few months and we can compare notes. Until then, stay firm. Stay kind.

-L. Cline

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