If you are at a dining table with other guests, there is a right moment to start eating. Follow these simple dining etiquette rules to avoid embarrassing yourself and others.

What start eating etiquette is

Start eating etiquette includes the simple rules to start eating at the right time. Such rules are crucial to start a meal with the right foot.

Avoid behaviors that can disappoint your host or the other guests.

Start eating etiquette rules

Do not start eating while others are still waiting for their food

1) Wait for the other guests

Start eating when all the other persons at the table are starting too. Wait for everyone to be seated and have their food served. If you are invited, wait for the host’s invitation to start eating. 

If you received your food already, but some guests are still waiting for theirs, it is polite to wait until they receive their food too. When the course is cold food, it is impolite to start eating without waiting. If the course is hot food, guests that already have received their food may be invited to start anyway, without waiting for the others. In this case, you can start, but it is polite to gracefully refuse the invitation and wait.

Order the same types of courses as the other guests

2) Order the same types of courses as the other guests

When dining out, try to order the same number and the same types of courses as the other guests. This way all the guests are eating at the same time. Avoid ordering appetizers or desserts if the other guests are not having them too. Otherwise, you will force them to wait for you to receive and eat your food. This is considered bad table manners.

It is good table etiquette to ask what the other guests would like to eat before you decide what to order. This way you can coordinate your orders. Remember, if you are dining with others, food is of secondary importance. The other guests should be your first priority.

3) Wish enjoyment of the meal

Some cultures use a starting formula to signal the start of the meal. Italians say “buon appetito” (literally “good appetite”), French “bon appetit”, Americans “enjoy your food” or simply “enjoy”. It is polite to answer with a thank you and “same to you”. Learn the local etiquette, or follow the leader: observe what the host and the other guests do, and copy them.

right time to start eating: the worst mistakes

Start eating etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst etiquette mistakes. 

  • 8/10. Starting to eat while others are waiting for their food.
  • 5/10. Ordering more courses than the other guests.
  • 4/10. Not wishing enjoyment of the meal.