Explaining Your Dairy-Free Diet to Others

Of course, you don’t need to explain to anyone about your dairy-free diet, except when it is necessary. In fact, your friends may never find out about your unique diet requirements. At some point, your diet can be an issue and it is important to talk to others about your condition. Awareness on dairy-free diet is improving; however it is currently well-known only on Europe and United States. Because dairy-free diet is not mainstream yet, it is important for you to adapt to the present social situations. Adapting usually entails informing those around you. You may have privacy issues and feel uncomfortable about sharing details that are only known by your family. Remember that when it comes to dairy-free diet, you are likely to face a situation where you need to explain your condition. You may not need to react to probes, but it will make your life easier if you have prepared diplomatic responses.

Sometimes, your reasons to avoid dairy products are related to political or ethical motivations, so it’s a bad idea to criticize or pontificate others’ diet. During a conversation try to stick to explaining the facts and you shouldn’t give your opinions when it is not necessary, in most cases people are just curious. For them, dairy-free diet can be something new and they want to know more about it. Most people who follow dairy-free diet can’t absorb lactose well or want to protect their health by reducing fat intake. If those are your reasons, you’ll find that explaining to them is easier. However, it often doesn’t prevent them from asking more questions. It’s your decision on how to handle those questions.

It is important to present yourself – and your diet – properly, in a way that everyone can get the best impression. Assuming you care with what others think, it is recommended to take an approach that will endear you to them. The way we talk to people about diet requirements has the potential of improving or dissolving your relationships. Our food choices are very personal matters and you should exercise caution when talking to others about this topic. If you are belligerent, bossy or overbearing, you will come off as being uncouth or unstable. If you harsh or preachy, you’ll easily put people off. Your lifestyle and diet may be ecologically on a responsible path, follow an ethical high road or simply healthier, but you can’t convince others by being unkind and inconsiderate. Instead, try to be polite, and be open to others’ by sharing your experience and knowledge. Always lead by example. Show them that following a dairy-free diet is easy, enjoyable and healthy.

Being a prudent guest

When a friend invites you for a dinner, it is often for a happy occasion, however, your special dietary requirements can complicate matters. Should you tell everyone on the table that you can’t eat dairy products? And if you choose not to divulge your restrictions, what to do if it turns out that the main course is pasta and Alfredo sauce? This is a critical moment, a wrong move may end up embarrassing the host and making everyone feels awful.

In general, you shouldn’t hesitate to share your dairy-free diet. In fact, by being open, you may surprisingly find that you are not alone. When dealing with this situation you should understand your host’s position. It surely feels disappointing if your guest can’t eat a meal that you’ve prepared for hours. An effective way to prevent this incident is by mentioning your special dietary needs right after you get the invitation. It is a perfect opportunity to explain in detail about your restrictions. To make things easier for your host, just explain to him that you don’t eat dairy products and let him know what you can eat. By giving proper explanations, you can give your host enough time to plan.

But things may not always be so easy; invitation can come in the mail or through a friend. If you don’t do anything, you may arrive to your host’s home and forced to make do with things that are being served. You’re lucky if the meal is served as buffet, as you have the opportunity to choose problem-free foods. In this case, feel free to load up you plate and no one will notice that you don’t have cheese strata on your plate. If this is the step you decide to take, eat some snack beforehand at home so you won’t be starved if you find that the buffet is an unofficial cheese party.

If you want to take some actions, these are a couple things you should do:

Call him about your diet restrictions

Immediately call your host and give a short explanation about your diet requirements. Tell him that you don’t want him to go any trouble serving dishes you can’t eat. Try to be gracious when you’re broaching this issue. Your host may ask some questions to understand things that you can eat. If he wants to serve a chicken salad with lettuce, sweet corn, coleslaw and goat cheese, tell him that it sounds delicious. Just say you love it – minus the cheese. It’s that simple, however some dishes can’t do without cheese, so you need to help your host to troubleshoot by giving him ideas on dairy product alternatives. Otherwise, say you should be fine with side dishes.

Ask him whether you can bring a dish

It only works well on casual setting, where you know everyone well. BBQ party and potluck dinners can be good moments to introduce and share your dairy-free dishes. Obviously, it is imprudent to bring your own dishes in more formal settings. You don’t want to look tacky by showing at a formal dinner party or a wedding reception with a covered dish. Always assess your situation before making an offer. A good time to offer to bring your own dish is when your host sounds unsure about how he should handle your dietary needs. However, if your host declines and says he would prepare some special dishes for you, don’t push. In worst case scenario, there are still other options to weigh, for example depending on your intolerance level you can eat very little dairy food or you can eat a full meal at home, so you can more easily enjoy the party with some snacks and drinks.

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