Sharing Dietary Restrictions Can Feel Uncomfortable, But Here's How To Get Used To It

Being invited to any fancy dinner party, family meal, or function is flattering and can be exciting to look forward to something. But when you have dietary restrictions, that invitation can cause a big ball of anxiety to start forming for you. If it's with family, it's probable that they already know about your dietary concerns. However, when you're invited to a holiday dinner thrown by a new friend or have an office party, speaking to people about something that is personal is daunting.

You never want to offend people, and oftentimes people get really attached or particular about the food they're preparing. "Food is so much more than just fuel," registered dietitian Abby Langer told HuffPost. "It's family, it's community, it's personal. People often see the reluctance to eat something as personally offensive." With that in mind, expressing limits or boundaries with food is an even scarier thought. Here are some tips on how to do that, which will hopefully make you more confident in doing so as well.

Lean into the discomfort that comes with talking about dietary restrictions

It might be obvious, but contact your host about your dietary restrictions as soon as you receive the invite and know you want to attend. You'll be able to ascertain from your chat with the host what will be safe to eat, and they'll be able to start thinking about their options. Yes, whether it's allergies, an intolerance, or a purposeful diet, your dietary restrictions can feel like a burden. Opening yourself up to scrutiny and rejection of sorts regarding something as personal as dietary restrictions is scary. So how do you deal with starting the looming conversation?

Firstly, you should lean into that awkward feeling, HuffPost reported. Don't let yourself feel like you're "too much" or "high maintenance" for being you. Know that setting these limits will help lessen your anxiety. Licensed therapist, Danielle Locklearshe, said that this "difficulty expressing ... boundaries" is normal and stems from fear of someone else's reaction.

A way to work up the courage to broach these conversations is by giving yourself incentives, like the end goal being the family function or being with friends. Another incentive is the fact that you're doing this for yourself and your body. Being upfront and open about your dietary restrictions doesn't mean that you have to divulge everything, either. Don't let your "high maintenance" fears from before force you into over-explaining yourself. Remember, you're advocating for yourself, and you can control what you share.

Prepare for pushback and have a game plan

This conversation with your host is all part of preparing for a meal or party to help those planning, but also so that you are aware of what's safe to eat and what isn't, especially if you have allergies. Toby Amidor, a registered dietitian and food safety consultant, wrote for Food Network that finding out ingredients and dishes ahead of time helps those with diabetes figure out insulin and sugar levels. Northwestern Medicine calls this "having a game plan" so that all the "guesswork" is removed prior to the meal.

Unfortunately, you should prepare for possible pushback. Wellness coach Krystal Quagliara told HuffPost that this is more possible during the holidays or for a customary event because people are really attached to their traditions, doubly so when food is involved. "Remember that if a person gets offended that you don't want to eat something, that's about them, not you," registered dietitian Abby Langer told HuffPost in a separate article.

If it's looking like the host can't accommodate you or there aren't many options, Amidor wrote that it's okay to accommodate for yourself. Eat beforehand so that if you can only eat a handful of things, you won't be famished by the end of the night. You can also always "politely decline" food at whatever function you're going to. Overcoming uncomfortable conversations really starts with preparing yourself and knowing that everyone is going to be less anxious in the long run.