DASH Etiquette 4 Rules: How To DASH Diet Best

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

What DASH etiquette is

DASH etiquette is the set of rules to plan a menu that is appropriate for guests on a DASH 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 DASH etiquette to properly plan a menu that your guests will enjoy and to avoid any embarrassments. 

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

how to plan a menu for DASH diet rules

DASH etiquette rules

1) Respect DASH dietary restrictions in your menu

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. The DASH diet limits salt, animal fat, and added sugar.

Meat in the DASH diet

The DASH diet limits or avoids red meat. Beef. Pork. Venison. DASH limits processed meat too. Such as bacon, ham, Prosciutto, or salami.

White meat is allowed in the DASH diet. Such as veal, chicken, turkey, or poultry.

Fish and seafood are allowed in DASH

Fish or seafood are commonly ok in a DASH diet. While it is best to avoid canned or processed fish. Some people exclude some fish comparable to red meat, such as fatty tuna.

Dairy products and cheese are allowed

The DASH diet allows milk, dairy products, and cheese. Fresh cheese or dairy is almost always allowed. Such as yogurt, cottage cheese, or feta. However, DASH diets 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 are allowed in DASH diets

The DASH diet allows eggs and honey.

Vegetables and fruit are always allowed

The DASH diet allows all types of vegetables and fruit.

Grains are ok

In general, people on a DASH diet can eat any type of grain or cereal. Rice. Pasta. Couscous. Quinoa. The same applies to bakery products, bread, or pizza. However, foods such as pasta, bread, or pizza can be on a DASH diet only if they contain a low quantity of salt.

Condiments are ok, salt no

The DASH diet allows oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices. However, salt must be limited to the minimum or completely excluded.

Sweets and desserts in moderation

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

Drinks and alcohol must be limited

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.

2) Etiquette for asking DASH guests about their diet

It is perfect etiquette to ask your guests about their dietary restrictions. Even more with DASH diets, which may require different restrictions based on each individual.

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 DASH etiquette to ask further questions. Such as why someone is on a DASH diet. Or why someone excludes or includes a certain food. A guest may be on a DASH diet due to a lifestyle choice or a health condition.

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 DASH dietary restrictions

3) DASH menu planning etiquette

Follow these key principles to deal with guests’ DASH 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. With DASH diets, be especially careful with salt.

This way you allow guests on a DASH 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) DASH diet guest etiquette

Guests must follow DASH diet 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 DASH 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. 

DASH diet etiquette mistakes

DASH 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 DASH etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Not accommodating DASH dietary restrictions.
  • 7/10. Imposing your diet on others.
  • 7/10. Sharing unsolicited details about your diet.
  • 6/10. Asking personal dietary questions.