Chestnut Street Inn

Deciphering the Code of Dietary Restrictions

Nowadays when you invite someone over for a meal the likelihood of some kind of special dietary request is pretty high. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, low carb, low sugar, no nuts, no soy, no corn, the list is practically endless. When and where should one go out of their way to make adjustments to a menu and how should one go about it is a tricky question.

My rule of thumb with dietary restrictions is this, if eating something can potentially make someone ill, I go out of my way to accommodate their dietary restrictions. If someone is eating a specific diet by choice, I will try to accommodate them but may allow them to selectively not eat something they don’t want to.

The first thing to do is to ask specific questions. Most people with restricted diets are happy to discuss their restrictions with you in detail and will appreciate your interest. For example, those who are on low sugar or low carb diets based upon a doctors recommendation for high blood sugar may either control their diets strictly with food or may do it with a combination of medications, which will determine how striclty they adhere to the low sugar diet on a special occasion.

Another example is the term “vegetarian.” I have learned that this doesn’t mean any one thing. Vegetarianism has as many colors as the rainbow. There are ovo-vegetarians, lacto-vegetarians, pesco-vegetarians and many other variations thereof. It is almost impossible to keep track of. A good basic question to ask is do you eat chicken, fish or eggs. Most vegetarians will eat dairy products and eggs, but some will allow fish and even chicken.

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