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by Abigail Van Buren

Restricted Diet Makes Attending Dinner Parties Awkward

DEAR ABBY: I have multiple chronic health conditions. Because my symptoms are worsened by a lot of foods, I'm on a highly restricted diet. If I stay on it, I feel as well as possible. (I never feel entirely well.)

When I go to friends' homes for dinner or parties, would it be rude for me to bring along something for myself that I can eat that won't make me sick? I can have no grains, no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, the list goes on and on, but I could always bring extra food to share if you think that would be appropriate.

I have been eating before I go and then claiming not to be hungry, but I feel it would be rude to do this at dinner parties. What do you suggest I do? I prefer that my health not be a topic of conversation. -- CAN'T EAT JACK

DEAR CAN'T: Your health won't be a topic of conversation at these gatherings if you discuss this with your host(s) at the time you are invited to the party. Explain that you are on a severely restricted diet, picking at their food might be interpreted as rude and you don't wish to come across that way. Ask if you can bring your own food with you. I'm sure your hosts will understand and tell you to enjoy their hospitality (if not their food) because they welcome your company.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics