This post is part of our restricted diet series from Beth of Tasty Yummies!
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!
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, 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.
Here are some quick tips for both host and guest!
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, 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.
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.
Here are some of our favorite gluten-free and vegan recipes that everyone is sure to enjoy!
Polenta Rounds with Eggplant Caponata
Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Baby Kale and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Pomegranate and Toasted Pine Nuts
Grilled Sweet Potato and Wilted Kale Salad
Grilled Potato and Arugula Salad with Fresh Herbs
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Tarts with Whipped Coconut Cream
Do you have any other tips to share for host or guest?
Read more posts from our Restricted Diet Series!
More healthy recipes from the BLDG 25 Blog.
I LOVE that silverware!! Where is it from?
Jennie – thanks. It was a wedding gift from 6 years ago. Designed by Robert Welch. I think maybe it was from Bed Bath and Beyond at the time. Can’t recall exactly.
I feel bad for those who have restricted diets. :(
It seems it is becoming more and more common.
Good tips for the future.
Found them! Thank you Beth!
I love that BLDG25 is writing articles tackling the difficulties of dietary restrictions. I am allergic to certain vegetables and I recently discovered a gluten allergy as well, so finding support here has been a great help! Would you consider writing an article about restaurant eating with dietary restrictions?
In my experience, people DEFINITELY notice if you aren’t eating. Everyone will act concerned or ask you if you’re feeling okay, if you got enough to eat, if there’s anything you can eat and on and on. At some events, I have brought my own dinner in tupperware and asked the server for a plate. People notice this less than if you don’t eat. Especially if you put your food on a regular plate. Typing this out it sounds kind of insane but sometimes them’s the breaks if your food situation is bad enough.
I love them as well and cannot find them, where did you find them?
Thank you :)
Laurel, yes I agree, there are definitely situations where people will notice. I guess I meant more at an event like a wedding, if a plate of food is in front of you and you just kinda push it around or get up to get a cocktail (or two), if people are preoccupied enough, they likely won’t notice or if they do ask, I generally say something like “I wasn’t sure if I wasn’t going to be able to eat or not, so I ate a large meal before I came to prepare.” That usually squashes it. But obviously every situation and every person is different. I love the idea of packing your own meal and having them plate it for you. I have never done that myself, but that seems like a great way to make sure you can eat. Thanks for your thoughts and tips.
@Meg – You shouldn’t feel bad for those who have chosen a restrictive diet! Choosing to eat vegan, sugar-free, vegetarian, or the like is a personal decision and requires no apologies. Telling a vegan you feel bad for them isn’t the best conversation starter, either :)
I had a dinner on Saturday evening where a guest didn’t warn me ahead of time about her vegetarianism & there was literally nothing she could eat (I used chicken
Stock for everything). I felt so terrible! I was able to cobble together some spinach & fetta filo parcels for her (she eats dairy thank goodness) on the spot but had I known I would have been able to prepare a whole meal for her!!!!!
She was very gracious about the whole thing & apologised profusely for not telling me. I have invited her this weekend for a do-over because I’m excited to try some new recipes!
The word restricted diets hurts me sometimes but It prevents major diseases like diabetes. I generally advice people for not opt for oily or junk foods much. I arrange parties at my home with friends occasionally but carefully choose menu.
@Leiah i think Meg meant those who have restrictions that aren’t personal choices, such as those who are lactose intolerant.
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Thank you so much for this – I get so nervous attending events these days for both work and leisure as I am usually ill prepared and end up eating not enough or food I shouldn’t just to avoid the awkward moments.
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Nice blog. I’d like to add something to the list for guests. That is, stick to your stated restriction if you’ve told the host ahead of time that you are restricting something. I have no problem accommodating guests because I am alcohol intolerant myself and won’t be eating anyone’s coq a vin. However a friend recently informed me that she no longer eats nightshades. So I made two pots of my infamous stew for a luncheon, one researched and quite altered so she could eat it. When the meal was served she informed me that she wouldn’t bother with the restriction that day because she wanted to eat the original recipe! By the way, other guests ate the special one and loved it. I actually gained a great new recipe but I was really annoyed that she would ask me for special treatment, creating a lot of work, and then change her mind in the spot!
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