Hospitality and Food Allergies

“I don’t know how to cook something that is gluten-free so I just haven’t invited them over.” I had someone tell me this one time and I was stunned. I don’t know if my face gave it away, but I tried to stifle my confusion. I think we’re making it too hard on ourselves.

No Peanuts, Egg, Soy, Dairy, Wheat
Carb-free, Sugar-free, Gluten-free
Vegan, and Lacto-ovo-vegetarian

There’s a whole lot of restrictions and diets that people follow. These listed are just the ones that either myself (carb/sugar free) or friends of mine follow. I know it can require extra planning sometimes to invite someone to your home when they have dietary restrictions that are unfamiliar to you. In a era of Pinterest and Google there’s no reason to not invite people over simply because of food allergies/retrictions!

1 Peter 4:9 says, “Show hospitality without grumbling.” This includes grumbling about rethinking the menu or having to find a new dish to fix rather than your “tried and true” recipe. We don’t get to pick and choose who we show hospitality to. When we decide that accommodating food allergies isn’t worth the effort, we say that person or family is not worth the effort. Ouch! I would never want someone to assume I don’t think they are worth my time. So how can we practically extend hospitality when we know food allergies/restrictions are involved?

  • Ask ahead of time. This doesn’t mean 2 hours before they come over for dinner. Ask the family/friend when you first invite them over if there are any food allergies or dietary needs. This gives you time enough to plan the food and snacks, and instantly lets them feel cared for.

  • Pinterest!!! Search for the person you’re inviting over and see if they have a food/recipe board. Snag a recipe they have pinned and you’re ahead of the game! Search for recipes that cater to their needs. Look for ones that have been pinned a lot! (When you click on the picture, to the left hand side will be a thumb-tack icon and a number. The higher the number the more likely it’s a winner!) You can find me on Pinterest…its a new venture & I’ll be adding more pins soon, so go follow me there!

  • When in doubt, chicken and veggies. The first meal I ever fixed my husband was when we were dating. It’s still his favorite. I took chicken thighs, drizzled olive oil and Italian seasoning on top, and baked them at 400 for 30 minutes. I steamed some broccoli and cooked some rice and that was it. The meal is peanut, egg, dairy, soy, gluten, & carb-free while being 100% delicious. It’s my go-to meal when I need a simple winner. Will it ever win any awards or be in a cookbook? Nope! Will people eat it and enjoy it? Yes (except for my kids who only like chicken in nugget form…insert eye roll)

We’ve bought into the idea that in order for you to feed your guests it must be a full meal complete with appetizer and dessert. And I guess if your goal is entertaining company then that could be true. But if your goal is like mine - biblical hospitality where people leave feeling more connected to each other and the Lord - then the “extras” are simply that. They’re extra touches that are nice and appreciated and can be added when time and opportunity allows. But I’m almost certain that when Jesus tells the disciples in Luke 10 to accept the hospitality of others, there wasn’t the unspoken advice to turn up your nose if dessert wasn’t served.

  • Plan a gathering without food. Whoa! What? Am I saying to just invite some friends over after dinner time to come play board games or watch a movie and don’t offer food?? Yep. Again, somewhere we’ve mistaken the idea of hospitality - an intentional love that points people to Christ - and switched it with entertaining. Entertaining says we have to meet the physical needs of our guests so they feel valued and appreciated. Hospitality meets the emotional and spiritual needs. Hospitality uses entertaining as a means to the end goal of sharing the love of Christ. So if you’re intimidated by your friends’ dietary restrictions, simply eliminate food from the equation.

  • Turn the night into a potluck style meal. People will bring what they can eat, so a potluck ensures that everyone there will be able to eat at least something that evening! As long as you promote it as a potluck, no one will have a problem with being asked to bring something. This takes pressure off you as the host, but still eliminates the need for them to fix an entire meal.

Ultimately, the goal of hospitality and getting together with people shouldn’t be food. It should be conversation, fellowship, laughter, and Jesus. Food should never be the thing that keeps us from loving other people well. What recipes, tips, or ideas do you have when it comes to hospitality? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!