Decoding Dietary Restrictions

Paleo. Vegan. Gluten-free. You probably hear these terms all the time, but what do they mean?

When it comes to planning receptions and working lunches, there are plenty of things to coordinate, even without any last-minute requests and guidelines—like guests’ dietary restrictions. And what do those dietary restrictions mean?

Don’t fret the next time you have a dietary restriction to be mindful of—we’ve got you covered!

5 Dietary Restrictions—Explained!

Atkins diet: This diet focuses on consuming protein and fat from poultry, fish, eggs, red meat, butter and vegetable oils. In the first phase of the diet, the following are eliminated completely: pasta, bread, grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, caffeine, alcohol and any dairy (aside from butter, cheese and cream). In the maintenance phase, foods like vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, fruit, wine and other low-carb alcohol, and whole grains can be incorporated back in.


Gluten-free diet: This diet eliminates gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Naturally gluten-free foods include unprocessed beans, seeds and nuts, fresh eggs, meat, fish and poultry (if unbreaded and unmarinated), fruits and vegetables, and most dairy products. Many grains and starches—including corn, cornmeal, flax, quinoa and rice—are gluten-free.


Lactose-free diet: Since lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and milk products, things like cheese, yogurt and ice cream are off-limits with this diet. And be mindful of hidden sources of lactose, like whey and dry milk powder.


Paleo diet: This diet excludes all processed products, including dairy and grains. This diet is based off the types of food consumed by early humans—including meat, fish, vegetables and fruit.


Vegan diet: This diet excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Vegans eat grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits and, of course, vegan versions of many foods—including veggie burgers, vegan cheese and vegan ice cream.


What other dietary restrictions have you encountered as a meeting planner? Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and tell us—if we get enough responses, we’ll make another handy guide explaining more dietary restrictions!