Allergy Annoyance: How do I adequately accommodate guests with special dietary restrictions?

Q: What is the best way for a hostess to accommodate dinner guests who have special dietary needs? My friend was recently taken to task by a family member who has a milk allergy.  My friend set aside a portion of the dish in question before the milk was added then substituted soy milk in that portion.  The guest was offended that a separate portion was prepared for her, and refused to eat it, saying that she didn’t like being ‘signaled out’.  In fact, she believed everyone should be served the same modified recipe that she was served.  What is the best way to handle a situation like this?


A: Your friend was thoughtful to prepare a special version of the meal she was serving for the guest with the allergy.  The guest was extremely ungrateful to have refused this effort and outlandish to expect that every other person should eat the way she eats when, indeed, she is the only one with the allergy.  Your friend is correct in thinking her accommodations were acceptable, and in fact, is to be applauded for being so considerate.


  1. Michael

    On a similar note, my boyfriend and I were recently invited to a dinner party by a friend. My boyfriend is a picky eater and does not eat cheese or chocolate. He would rather not cause our host any trouble. I agree that I don’t want to cause extra burden (especially since he is just picky and not allergic to anything), but I don’t want my friend to be offended and wrongly believe my boyfriend does not like his cooking. How do I tactfully word my r.s.v.p.? Is it polite to offer to bring something for my boyfriend?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      It is best not to bring it up. You should not bring your own food as that is insulting to the host. He can eat something beforehand just in case. If he doesn’t like something, he doesn’t have to eat it, and a polite host won’t notice.

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