As a Host or a Guest Food Allergy Survival should not be a job. Being honest and upfront will help ease the strain for everyone involved.
Helpful tips for dining with others
1. Being a Host, you chose to welcome guests into your home, making them feel welcome is part of the deal. If you choose to invite a couple that has been vegan for years, providing them with vegan-friendly food should be a given. Does it mean you have to spend an arm an a leg on pricey meat alternatives? Of course not. There are so many vegan friend recipes that are affordable and delicious for everyone. Just choose one and everyone can eat comfortably- and happily.
2. As a guest you are being welcomed into someone’s home, so being polite and helpful is part of the deal. If you have a dietary restriction (either by choice or by birth) you should let your host know well in advance. Please note, dietary restrictions are not licenses to be picky. If someone makes you a delicious gluten-free meal but you would have preferred squash over asparagus, it’s best to keep that to yourself.
3. Preferences are not the same . Part of being a mature adult is being open to trying new thingas genuine restrictions
so unless you know for a fact that you’ll be in major intestinal distress from eating something new, it is best to say thank you and try the new food. You don’t have to eat it all, but a few bites goes a long way toward not making your host feel bad. See #7.
4. As a guest, don’t’ expect 100% of your needs to be met. Plan ahead. Offer to make a dish or eat something before you arrive. You should not expect that every aspect of the meal will be 100% suitable for your meals. With more and more people dealing with allergies and restrictions, it’s fair to assume that (when informed ahead of time), hosts will accommodate as much as possible in their planning.
5. If in doubt, offer to bring or suggest a meal. Offer suggestions.If you’re gluten free and eating at someone’s home who’s never dealt with that allergy before, it could be helpful to mention something like, “We love cooking with Quinoa and would be more than happy to suggest some group-friendly recipes if you need any help!”. If your hosts are still lost, offering to bring something like a salad or make-ahead dish is incredibly helpful. (It also gives them an idea of something they can cook next time)
6. Be clear about what’s in each dish. It is annoying to hearing a picky guest repeatedly asking something like, “Does this have butter in it? Does this? What about this?”. If you know a guest has a specific and genuine allergy or dietary concern, mention that at the start of the meal. For example, you can say, “We made a delicious vegetarian pasta salad, as well as roast chicken and some of our favorite grilled vegetables- all of which were made with just our favorite olive oil.” Or you can let people know simply that all of the vegetables were prepared without animal products, period.
7. When in doubt, a simple “We’re sorry” is helpful. If a guest fails to inform you about an allergy or restriction, it’s not the end of the world. Simply apologize for not being able to accommodate them and see what you can do to remedy the situation with what you have. Maybe you can give them a larger portion of the salad being served as a starter or just skip the dairy dessert and give them sorbet you had in the freezer. Either way, a simple “sorry” is all that’s required. A guest should also pass along the same “sorry” if they failed to inform the host they are currently eating, say, an all-meat diet and won’t be trying the delicious bread, pasta and rice dishes you prepared.