DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited on a first date with a really nice guy. We met at a coffee shop near my job and have talked when we've seen each other there several times. I am excited about going out with him. I have a bit of a challenge, though. We are going out to dinner -- classic date, I know. But I have a ton of food allergies. I really don't want to get into my food stuff on a first date, but I'm nervous that he may choose a restaurant that will be hard for me. Should I recommend a safe restaurant or ask him where we are going in advance? Or do I just spill the beans and tell him all about my issues? -- Allergy Date, Chicago
DEAR ALLERGY DATE: If possible, don't go into the allergy details before or during your first date. Keep things light if at all possible. How? By all means, ask what restaurant you will be going to. Knowing the name, you can call and find out what the evening's menu is and what foods you need to avoid. Don't sweat it even if you don't find out until you get to the restaurant. You can excuse yourself from the table and go to the maitre d' or waiter, give them a list of your food allergies (best if already printed on a card) and ask for recommendations for what you can order. With that information, you can be ready to order as you and your date look over the menu.
If it naturally comes up that you have food allergies, do not avoid the conversation. It is part of who you are, and he will have to learn soon enough. Just do your best not to make it the dramatic conversation of the night.