Restricted Diets: How To Be A Gracious Guest & an Accommodating Host

by Beth @ Tasty Yummies

Restricted Diets: How To Be A Gracious Guest & Host

Even if you yourself do not have a restricted diet, chances are you probably know someone who does. Whether by choice or due to food allergies or intolerances, more and more people are becoming aware of foods that don’t serve their bodies and are consequently removing them from their diet. This awareness allows people to live a much happier and healthier life. I am living proof of that!

Restricted Diets: How To Be A Gracious Guest & Host

If you choose to host a dinner party at your home, even one as casual as a backyard BBQ, having someone on the guest list with a limited diet can definitely be daunting and intimidating. Sometimes it probably even seems easier to just scratch them off the list and not invite them at all. The simple truth of the matter is, it isn’t easy, especially if you don’t have experience with their special dietary needs or choices. If you are making the choice to host them and accommodate their needs, the best advice I can give is to always ask them any and all questions that you have, so you can be educated on their diet limitations and provide for them, as best possible.

Those of you with the restricted diets, as a guest, you owe it to your host to let them know of all of your restrictions – especially if they are offering to make food you can eat. Most of all, be as gracious as possible, especially if they are cooking and trying to accommodate you and your needs.

This post was originally shared on the  Free People Blog, BLDG 25

How To Be A Gracious Guest & an Accommodating Host

Restricted Diets: How To Be A Gracious Guest & Host

Below are my how-to lists for both host and guest, to hopefully help make your next dinner party or BBQ as successful and enjoyable as possible, for all.

Host:

Do your homework. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – ask about ALL of their restrictions. Don’t guess and don’t ignore.

Ask what they CAN eat. Just as important as the things they cannot eat, ask about all of the foods your guest is able to eat. Sometimes this can help open your eyes to all of the possibilities instead of focusing on the restrictions.

Ask specifically for recommendations or recipes. Ask about dishes that you could make that would be safe for your guest, enjoyed by all and easy for you to prepare.

If you feel comfortable, ask the guest to bring a dish or dishes to share.

Search the internet for recipes that fit into their restrictions. There are so many amazing blogs with incredible recipes that everyone can enjoy. Send them over to your guest ahead of time for their approval.

Select a menu that is simple and enjoyable for all of your guests. There are so many foods that are naturally gluten-free, vegan, paleo etc. Focus on those.

Ask your guest to help you menu plan, cook and/or go shopping with you. This will insure you are selecting safe ingredients and you won’t put a ton of time into a dish they can’t end up eating.

Be mindful of cross contamination and watch for hidden ingredients.

Don’t try to guilt your guest into “just eat this or that”. If they aren’t interested in your cheese dip, even if they are just dairy-free by choice, it’s OK – I am sure your cheese dip is just fine, they probably just don’t want to spend the remainder of the evening in your bathroom. You probably don’t want this either.

Restricted Diets: How To Be A Gracious Guest & Host

Guests with Restricted Diets:

Make sure to call ahead to let the host know of your restrictions. Some hosts may have more experience and awareness with your restrictions than you might realize.

Kindly offer to bring a dish to share that everyone will enjoy or to bring your own meal entirely. Some people just might be uncomfortable with the daunting task of cooking for special dietary needs. Be prepared for that and don’t be put off.

Make it clear that you aren’t expecting them to bend over backwards for you. Let them know you are totally willing to bring your own food if that makes them more comfortable.

Offer your advice if they have any questions. Let them know to contact you with any and all things they are uncertain about.

Have a snack (or a full meal, if necessary) before you go. If you are staying with someone for a length of time, bring plenty of snacks and foods to have on hand for in between meals or making your own meals.

Be as gracious as possible, no matter what the circumstances. When there isn’t much for you to eat and the host is feeling guilty, let them know you appreciate their effort, be grateful and appreciative.

If you are headed to a formal event like a wedding, make note of your restrictions on the reply card if you feel comfortable. If you don’t, eat a decent sized meal before you leave in the event you cannot eat. If you can’t eat anything being served, don’t make a big deal at the event. Most people won’t even notice if you aren’t eating.

 

 

 

(dinner party photos courtesy of Free People)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Simply called food May 9, 2013 at 11:31 am

It is very interesting. What I do is just that I make my menu according to everybody’s intolerance. Everybody eats the same thing so that nobody feels left out. I know it has always been appreciated. 🙂

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2 tastyyummies May 10, 2013 at 9:03 am

That’s wonderful that you take that much time and thought to make sure the menu accommodates all. Not everyone is quite so ambitious and comfortable to do that, so you are an incredible hostess! I hope your guests appreciate you 😉

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3 SB_Australia May 26, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Yes! Please tell us! I love hosting dinner parties & try to do so every month. I have no problem catering for dietary restrictions, in fact I love discovering new ingredients & experimenting with new recipes. What I DON’T like is when I have a guest who doesn’t eat their meal because they can’t eat something (dairy, gluten, meat, whatever) but they don’t tell me!

I can’t imagine someone would be offended if you called or sent a note saying that you “would love to attend your dinner party however I should let you know that I am coeliac/vegetarian/vegan/etc. I would be happy to bring something I can eat so you don’t have to worry.” I would refuse their offer of bringing a dish as I love cooking & baking but I would love to have some recipes sent over so I can play around with new cuisines!

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4 andrea January 4, 2015 at 8:44 am

Unless you have a true food allergy such as peanut or shellfish, where you may go into shock, I think its very rude for guests to expect a hostess to take everyone’s dietary whims into consideration. Most are exactly that, a whim, and no one will die if they eat a bit of foods that they don’t normally eat. This entire issue is part of the generally narcissistic culture that we live in now, that makes everyone so “special”!! I’m so tired of hearing about people’s dietary “choices”, especially during a meal. very rude. Just eat what you can and stop asking for an ingredient list. It is so ungrateful and uncouth. Enjoy the company of your friends and family and the lovely food they have provided you with…

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5 Beth @ Tasty Yummies January 4, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Hi Andrea – I am assuming you might be new to my blog? My gluten intolerance is hardly a “whim”. I have been gluten-free for 10 years (this month) due to very serious health issues. Even the slightest amount of consumption can equal very SERIOUS problems and illness for me, as for many people that are on a gluten-free diet. You are correct, I will not die if I eat gluten, but I would be willing to bet that my always gracious hosts wouldn’t love the explosive diarrhea that I would have in their lovely bathrooms within an hour of consuming their meal. I have never had to deal with ANY hosts that aren’t willing to accommodate and work with me. Those that love me are willing to deal with my “special” needs. I know I am a lucky woman to have such loving and kind people in my life and I take every opportunity to tell them how grateful I am for them!

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6 Sarah January 4, 2015 at 5:57 pm

It’s people like this that make me feel uncomfortable and anxious to go to events centered around food. I have Hashimoto’s Disease and a gluten intolerance/borderline celiac and certain other foods I need to be careful with. I’m always afraid to mention my food issues to the host because I have occasionally encountered rude and inconsiderate people like this. Yes, I know gluten free is a big trend right now but some people, like me and Beth, actually need this diet!

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7 Amy January 4, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Andrea, it must be nice to be able to eat anything. Unfortunately, my children and husband are unable to. My son is unable to process sugar right now, especially processed sugars. He used to get migraines if he ate sugar. I agree, that’s not going to kill him, but he missed a lot of school until we figured out the trigger. My daughter cannot tolerate highly processed foods. They cause her severe stomach pains and diarrhea. My husband does not tolerate MSG. He is our meter for identifying foods made with MSG. We now eat mostly whole foods. When I buy groceries, I stick to the outer edges of the grocery store. We all feel much better now and seldom get sick. We recently stayed with family for 3 days. Two weeks later, I am still sick. And all 6 of us have been sick at some point since the day after we arrived there. We just feel better when avoiding certain foods and have decided the sick feelings aren’t worth it. Thankfully, most of our family and friends are more concerned about our health than the slight inconvenience.

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8 Rita July 3, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Children need every ounce of nutrition they eat just to grow, but if they are like my children who are severely underweight, one meal that they end up throwing up or flushing down the toilet with explosive diarrhea is one meal too many. That doesn’t include what it does to me and my husband.

Sure, one outing won’t kill us today, but everywhere we go, we have to choose to starve or break the rules. One day of breaking the rules is four days of pain. And every week, there’s something that comes up where we’re faced with this issue.

What you’re saying, Andrea, is that we should endure the pain weekly and my children should be left starving and underweight, all because we’re not allowed to ask about the ingredient list.

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9 Joana @ My Gut Feeling January 5, 2015 at 1:16 am

Happy New Year, Beth. Great post, great blog! Being on a lowFODMAP diet, I totally relate to your story. Thank you! 🙂

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