how to cater to guests with hypertension

DASH Diet Etiquette: 4 Rules For Guests And Hosts

who this class is for

Waiters and hospitality staff, House-party hosts, Guests on a DASH diet

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About this micro-class

Attending a Michelin-starred restaurant is an exciting experience, and being prepared can enhance your enjoyment.

1. Be prepared to tend to guests with hypertension

What it is: The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a dietary regimen promoted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its main goal is to prevent hypertension. 

Limitations: The DASH diet limits salt, animal fat, and added sugar. There are some stricter or more flexible interpretations. Some guests may include or exclude some foods due to health, personal, or other concerns.

2. Plan a safe DASH-friendly menu and dining experience

Avoid traces of foods unhealthy for DASH and cross-contamination

Follow cooking etiquette principles to cook food safely. Designate specific utensils, cutting boards, and cooking surfaces for DASH-friendly dishes.

Create a transparent DASH-friendly menu

Clearly mark all the dishes or items on the menu that are DASH-friendly. Label them with a recognized symbol or statement. Make detailed ingredient lists available to customers or guests upon request.

Serve each food on its dedicated plate

Allow your guests on a DASH diet to pick the foods they can eat and avoid the ones they cannot eat. 

Avoid serving multiple foods on the same plate. Instead, try to separate them. Assign a plate to each food or ingredient. Serve condiments and sauces separately from food. Present each food with its serving utensils.

Include safe options for your guests with hypertension

Some foods present a lower risk of being unhealthy, such as vegetables and fruits. Plan some safe dishes that almost any guest will be able to eat. For instance, baked potatoes or salad are safe options for most guests.

Be open to accomodate special needs of guests on a DASH diet

Offer ingredient substitutions whenever possible to accommodate guests on a DASH diet. Be transparent about potential substitutions and any extra costs involved.

Be open to customizing dishes and offering a DASH-friendly version. Clearly communicate any limitations in customization due to the nature of the dish or kitchen processes.

Avoid foods that may be unhealthy for guests with hypertension


The DASH diet limits or avoids red meat, such as beef, pork, or venison. DASH limits processed meat too, such as bacon, ham, Prosciutto, or salami.

Only white meat is usually allowed in the DASH diet. Veal, chicken, turkey, or poultry are acceptable meat options.

Fish and seafood

Fish or seafood are commonly allowed in a DASH diet. However, it is best to avoid canned or processed fish. 

Some guests exclude fish that may be comparable to red meat, such as fatty tuna.

Dairy products and cheese

The DASH diet allows milk, dairy products, and cheese. Fresh cheese or dairy is almost always allowed. Yogurt, cottage cheese, or feta are generally appropriate. However, DASH diets may exclude fresh dairy that is high in fat.

DASH diets may limit or exclude aged cheese too, especially cheese rich in sodium or saturated fat.

Eggs and honey

The DASH diet allows eggs and honey.

Vegetables, fruits, and tree nuts

The DASH diet allows all types of vegetables and fruit.


In general, people on a DASH diet can eat any type of grain or cereal, such as rice, pasta, couscous, and quinoa. The same applies to bakery products, bread, or pizza. However, foods such as pasta, bread, or pizza can be allowed in a DASH diet only if they contain a low quantity of salt.

Condiments and sauces

The DASH diet allows oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices in small quantities. Salt must be limited to the minimum or completely excluded.

Sweets and desserts

In general, people on DASH diets can eat sweets or desserts. However, it is best to limit the consumption of sugar. Every processed product with added sugar is not fit for DASH diets.

Drinks and alcoholic beverages

The DASH diet limits many beverages. It is possible to drink alcohol but only in a limited quantity. It is best to avoid coffee and tea. Soft drinks with added sugar should be excluded too.

3. Politely ask your guests with hypertension about their food restrictions

Private parties

It is perfect etiquette to ask your guests with hypertension about their dietary restrictions. DASH diets differ and may include or exclude different foods.

In written formal invitations, it is sufficient to ask guests to inform the hosts about any dietary requirements. In informal invitations, a simple “Do you follow any diet or have any dietary restrictions?” works. Another option is to ask if guests avoid any food. 

Never judge or question the someone’s dietary restrictions. Avoid asking additional questions, such as why someone follows a diet. Some guests may be uncomfortable sharing their food restrictions.


Hospitality staff should encourage guests to communicate their food allergies or intolerances when making reservations and upon arrival. 

Waiters should ask about food allergies before taking orders, and convey this information to the kitchen.

4. Etiquette for guests with hypertension

Clearly communicate your food restrictions

Clearly state with your host if you have any dietary restrictions.

Do not expect a change in the menu based on your needs. As a guest, you do not want to sound entitled. Instead, you can ask if there may be some DASH-friendly options for you.

Do not expect the host to accommodate your requests. However, any considerate host will feel compelled to adjust the menu to your needs.

Politely refuse food that you do not eat

If the host serves a type of food that you do not eat, simply avoid it. If the host or another guest explicitly offers such food to you, politely refuse it. It is enough to say “no, thank you”. 

Provide additional details only if someone asks you. Be brief and avoid annoying others with your dietary restrictions.

Do not pressure others

Do not expect others to adjust their menu or diet to your dietary restrictions. Similarly, at a restaurant, do not expect other guests to change their food order.

DASH etiquette mistakes

The worst etiquette mistakes for a host are: 

  • Not accommodating your guests’ needs that are due to their hypertension or similar medical condition.
  • Using the same kitchenware with different foods.
  • Asking personal dietary questions.

The worst etiquette mistakes for guests with hypertension are: 

  • Not communicating your dietary restrictions to the host.
  • Pressuring others.
  • Sharing unsolicited details about your diet.

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