Hosting Hints: How to Handle Guests With Restrictive Diets

In this 6-part Q&A series, Domestic CEO and Modern Manners Guy tackle thorny questions about proper hosting (and guesting) etiquette. Today: What to do if you can't eat any of the food served at a dinner party?

Amanda Thomas
2-minute read

Hosting Hints: How to Handle Guests With Restrictive Diets

by Amanda Thomas and Richie Frieman

Ask the Experts: What should I do if I can’t eat any of the food at a dinner party?

Domestic CEO: If you have a restrictive diet, let your hosts know BEFORE the party and ask what they will be serving. Your purpose of asking is NOT to let them know that you can’t eat anything they have planned, but so you can plan to eat before arriving. Offering to bring a dish to share that you know you can eat is also a nice way of letting your host know that you realize your dietary restrictions may be inconvenient for their plans, and that you are willing to help out.

If you haven’t taken any of these actions before the party, you have given up all rights to mention your restrictions at the party. Make up a polite excuse as to why you are not eating (you had a late lunch and are now unexpectedly still stuffed), apologize to the hosts, and let them know that everything smells wonderful. Then sit there with your drink and don’t mention your diet to anyone. If the hosts find out, even through the grapevine, that you’re not able to eat anything they’ve prepared, they’ll feel horrible.


Modern Manners Guy: I'm not as strict as the Domestic CEO on this one. This sort of thing happens ALL the time. And I am always surprised when people feel badly about it. It’s a fact that you are not going to always like what is served. And if I'm cooking, trust me, you will like NOTHING that is served. But here is my theory about dinner parties: A party is not about whether you like the food, the atmosphere, or even the music, but that you like the people.

I recently went to a dinner party at a restaurant for a friend of mine. Dinner was at 9:00PM and honestly, I eat much earlier. So, I had something to eat at home, and ordered an appetizer and a drink during the party. I don't like eating late at night, unless it's at a wedding or some other big occasion, and so I simply did what was best in my situation without allowing it to affect others. I went to the party because I wanted to be with the people, not so much for the food.

So, go to a party to enjoy the night, and don't worry too much about the food. Chances are there will be at least one thing you could eat. And if not, you can stop at your favorite take-out spot on your way home.

Check out More Tips for Happy Hosting:

How to Handle Party Latecomers?

What if Guests Bring an Uninvited Dog? 

How to Cancel a Dinner Party?

Salad photo courtesy of Shutterstock