According to Food Allergy Research & Education, approximately 15 million people in the United States have food allergies. The eight most common allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. The number of people with allergies has increased sharply since 1997. It’s highly likely that someone in your life is dealing with an allergy.
This issue has personal significance to me. My younger brother has a life threatening allergy to peanuts. I vividly remember sitting in the emergency room when I was 7 after he was first exposed to peanuts through a free cookie at the deli. My brother outgrew most of his numerous other allergies, but the most severe one has remained. While I have never struggled with food allergies personally, I have given up dairy for the last 8 months because my nursing baby cannot tolerate it.
Every time I have people over, I ask one simple question: “Do you have any allergies or special dietary needs?” If the person does not, then we move on without any further commentary. If the person does, however, he or she typically appreciates the opportunity to communicate their needs without feeling as if they are being “high-maintenance.” (In my opinion, doing what is necessary to keep yourself from going into anaphylactic shock is not being “high-maintenance,” but unfortunately people receive that label sometimes).
Even if your prospective guest does not have allergies, it can be helpful to know about other restrictions as well. For example, you may want to prepare a sugar-free dessert option if one of your guests is a diabetic. Small gestures can go a long way towards making your guest feel more at home.
While this step may seem small, it is truly just another way to be considerate. Ultimately, hospitality is about serving other people and showing them the love of Christ.