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4 Tips For Sticking to Your Diet Without Offending Your Host

We asked a national etiquette expert for tips on handling this tricky situation.

Art Credit: California Bakery

Do you have a dietary condition? Whether you're gluten-free or dairy-free, or have a serious nut allergy, your diet is restrictive and your health depends on you staying on track. While it may be easy enough to stick to the straight and narrow when you are planning your own meals, when you are a dinner guest, what do you do? Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert, shares some tips for sticking to your diet without offending your host.

Inform the host well in advance.

You are your own advocate, and as such you should politely inform your host of any serious food allergy. Discreetly ask your host again at the party, to ensure you won’t have a severe allergic reaction during the entrée. Not only are you covering your bases, you're also saving her from being mortified.

Don't be afraid to pass on a dish.

When a course is served that is in question, or the sever can't guarantee it's free of your allergen, either ask for an additional serving of vegetables and skip the lobster salad or be very discreet and keep the dialogue flowing. If possible, eat around the food item, unless your allergy is too severe. A food allergy isn’t something to be embarrassed about, and you shouldn’t hesitate to speak up to protect your health.

You may have to decline the invitation.

Make the decision quickly if it is prudent to attend or not attend depending on the size of the event and what they will be serving. Always offer to get together another time in a different setting so the host won’t be required to accommodate your particular needs.

Offer to bring your own meal.

This would only apply if you and/or your significant other are the only ones invited. For a larger party, if you can’t stray away from your strict diet, politely check with the host to see if you could bring a dish to share. This is often a good idea during holidays and special events when you don't want to seem as if you aren't interested in attending. Make a casserole or tray the entire group can enjoy.

Don't forget, there is a difference between allergies and preferences. If you simply don’t like a certain food, that is not enough reason to request a menu change or turn you nose up at eating the main dish.

Photo by California Bakery