Organic Dining Dilemmas


But Rhetts believes there are solutions to these thorny etiquette quandaries, and they begin with taking responsibility for your food, just as diabetics and others with special nutritional needs must deal with similar issues when dining out.

If you are going out to a restaurant, call ahead and see what options there are,” Rhetts tells OrganicAuthority. “If you are dining as a guest in someone’s home, you might want to eat something beforehand so you won’t be famished if what is being served is not acceptable to you. One can also volunteer to bring a dish; that way,you know there will be at least one thing you can eat.”

Etiquette experts agree with Rhetts’ suggestions.

“Today, many people have dietary restrictions and definite philosophies regarding what they eat,” says Karen Hickman, an etiquette/protocol consultant with Professional Courtesy LLC in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Good hosts will usually ask if their guests have specific dietary restrictions or specific likes and dislikes.

“If the host does not ask, it would be considerate of the guest to let the host know,” Hickman tells OrganicAuthority. “However, be careful in placing too many demands on your host. If your diet is very limited, consider asking the host if you can contribute to the dinner. If the host declines, maybe it would be better to eat before you join the party.”

As for business lunches, it’s perfectly acceptable to contact the restaurant beforehand to make a special request, according to Marion Gellatly, president of the Association of Image Consultants International and founder of Powerful Presence, a California-based image management firm that offers business-etiquette training and consulting.

”Explain specifically what would be acceptable, and ask if they would be able to assist you,” she tells OrganicAuthority. “If so, be sure to identify yourself when you arrive. If not, decide whether you can tolerate a nonorganic meal. Measure how important the business lunch or function is to you. And be sure to thank the restaurant maitre d’ for accommodating you. It’s all about manners and appreciation.”

Above all, try to be flexible, Rhetts advises.

“In my experience, most people are fairly open to reasonable suggestions if you calmly and clearly explain the situation,” she says. “Note the use of the word ‘reasonable.’ Just because you only eat a macrobiotic diet on alternate Saturdays is no reason why everyone else at a dinner party has to. Be rational.”

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