The most important rules and principles to planning a clean eating menu. Follow clean eating etiquette to prepare a menu that your guests will enjoy. Avoid embarrassment and be an ideal host.

What clean eating etiquette is

Clean eating etiquette is the set of rules to plan a menu that is appropriate for guests that follow a clean eating diet. Such rules include:

  • The allowed foods and ingredients.
  • How to ask about dietary restrictions.
  • How to deal with your guests’ diets.

If you are hosting, respect clean eating etiquette to properly plan a menu that your guests will enjoy and to avoid any embarrassments. 

If you are a guest, follow clean eating etiquette to politely deal with your hosts and the other guests.

What foods for a sustainable menu

Clean eating etiquette principles

The main principle of clean eating is to eat simple and natural foods. Thus, clean eating avoids food that is processed or that requires significant resources for its production.

Avoid foods with a high negative impact

Clean eating limits high-impact foods. Food is high-impact when it requires significant resources for its production, including transportation. Examples are red meat, sugar, mineral water, or fish such as salmon. 

Shop locally

Kilometer zero foods, or KM 0, are produced locally near the consumer. Thus, such foods are cleaner and fit for the local diet.

Eat seasonal food

Clean eating suggests eating each food in its season. This helps the body to digest the food.

clean eating diet rules

Clean eating etiquette rules

1) Respect clean eating dietary restrictions in your menu

Meat in clean eating

Clean eating allows meat in a limited quantity. White meat, such as chicken or poultry, is better than red meat. A clean eating diet limits or excludes processed meat or fatty cuts. Such as ham, salami, or bacon.

Fish and seafood are allowed

Clean eating allows fish or seafood. Ideally, fish and seafood must be fresh and sourced locally. Avoid processed or frozen fish.

Dairy products and cheese must be limited

Milk is allowed. However, clean eating limits dairy products and cheese. People on a clean eating diet eat cheese or dairy only a few times per week. Dairy or cheese that requires intense processing should be avoided.

Eggs and honey are allowed in clean eating

Clean eating allows eggs. However, some people limit them to less than 5 per week. Honey is allowed without limitations.

Vegetables and fruit are always allowed

Clean eating allows all types of vegetables and fruit. Ideally, fruits and vegetables should be in season, fresh, and sourced locally.

Some people may exclude some fruit or vegetables. Usually, due to sustainability concerns. Such as avocado or banana.

Grains are ok

Clean eating allows any type of grain. Cereals. Rice. Pasta. Couscous. Quinoa. The same applies to bakery products, bread, and pizza. Avoid products that are heavily processed or frozen.

Condiments are almost always ok

Clean eating allows oil, vinegar, salt, herbs, and spices. However, it may exclude some vegetable oils that require heavy processing. Such as sunflower seed oil.

Sweets and desserts might not be clean eating

In general, clean eating allows any type of sweets or dessert. However, products with large amounts of added sugar are not clean eating. Prefer fresh food to processed sweets.

Drinks and alcohol must be limited

Clean eating limits any drink with added sugar. Such as soft drinks. Alcohol, such as wine, beer, or spirits is allowed in moderation. Coffee and tea are generally ok. Fresh fruit juices are ideal.

2) Etiquette for asking clean-eating guests about their diet

It is perfect etiquette to ask your guests about their dietary restrictions.

In written formal invitations, it is sufficient to ask guests to please inform the hosts about any dietary requirements. 

In informal invitations, a simple “do you follow any diet or have any dietary restriction?” works. Another option is to ask if guests avoid any food.

It is against clean eating etiquette to ask further questions. Such as why someone is on a clean eating diet. Or why someone excludes or includes a certain food. 

If you have a genuine curiosity, you may ask such questions. However, it is polite to justify your curiosity. In other words, state why you are curious about it. Be apologetic. Never judge or question the answers you get.

best menu practices to deal with clean eating dietary restrictions

3) Clean eating menu planning etiquette

Follow these key principles to deal with guests’ clean eating dietary restrictions.

Serve each food on its dedicated plate 

Do not serve multiple foods on the same plate. Instead, try to separate them. Assign a plate to each food or ingredient. Serve condiments and sauces separated from food.

This way you allow guests on a clean eating diet to pick the foods they can eat. Or to avoid the ones they cannot eat. 

Include safe options 

Many foods are allowed in almost every diet. Such as vegetables and fruit. Plan some safe dishes that almost any guest will be able to eat. As an example, only a few people say no to baked potatoes or salad.

Avoid risky foods

Many foods are not allowed in many diets. Pork meat. Alcohol. Beef. Crustaceans.

If you are unsure about your guests’ diet, play safe. Avoid cooking these foods altogether. Or, at least, plan one or two dishes without them.

4) Clean eating guest etiquette

Guests must follow clean eating etiquette too. Otherwise, they risk disrespecting or annoying their host and the other guests.

Do not expect the host to guess your diet 

If you do not eat some foods, clearly state it with your host. 

It is bad etiquette to expect a change in the menu based on your needs. Instead, you may ask if there may be some clean eating options. Be apologetic in your requests. It is rude to do otherwise. As a guest, you do not want to sound entitled.

Be accommodating. Do not expect the host to accommodate your requests. 

Politely refuse food that you do not eat

If the host serves 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 detail only if someone asks you. It is good etiquette to be brief. Otherwise, do not annoy others with your dietary restrictions. You do not want to look like you chose a diet only to be interesting.

Do not impose your diet on the other guests

Never expect others to adjust to your diet. Do not expect your hosts to change their menu to accommodate your needs. Similarly, at a restaurant, do not expect the other guests to change their food order. 

clean eating etiquette mistakes

Clean 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 clean eating etiquette mistakes. 

  • 8/10. Not accommodating clean eating dietary restrictions.
  • 8/10. Imposing your diet on others.
  • 7/10. Sharing unsolicited details about your diet.
  • 6/10. Asking personal dietary questions.



ApplesCollard GreensOnions
CarrotsLimesSwiss Chard


Bell PeppersGreen BeansStrawberries
BlackberriesHerbsSummer Squash
BlueberriesHoneydew MelonTomatillos
CarrotsLima BeansWatermelon


BeetsGreen BeansPineapples
Bell PeppersHerbsPotatoes
Brussels SproutsKiwifruitRadishes
CeleryMangosSweet Potatoes & Yams
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GarlicParsnipsWinter Squash


Brussels SproutsLemonsSweet Potatoes & Yams
CabbageLimesSwiss Chard
CeleryOrangesWinter Squash
Collard GreensParsnips