Should you turn down those dinner rolls?

Should you turn down those dinner rolls?

This is not the moment to announce that you don't eat dead animals - or, for various other reasons, anything else on your plate. It's not fair or kind to rain on anybody else's parade by bringing up your virtuous diet.

Instead, focus on being a charming, upbeat guest. That's what will get you a repeat invitation - not whether you've cleaned your plate! Thank your hostess sincerely for the delicious meal, whether or not you ate much. Mounting a dinner party requires time, effort, and expense. Honor that.

East Side, West Side.

It's easier to navigate the shoals of dieting in restaurants where you have choices. But again, focus on the Wants rather than the Won'ts.

That might sound like, "I'd love the salmon grilled dry, a baked potato, and green salad with oil and vinegar, please." "I'd love a white wine spritzer." Or, I'd love those wonderful mixed berries with whipped cream on the side, please." And "Why don't you pass this basket of rolls down where the others can enjoy them?" is a whole lot more palatable than "No, no, a thousand times, no!"

Convey that you are embracing life's pleasures - not robbing yourself of them. Sometimes it's most gracious to avoid the word "no" altogether.

When declining something, try: "I think I'll pass on that tonight, thanks." By your statement, you have not passed any judgment on the indulgence or the indulgers. It's just that you choose not to partake tonight. (Your tablemates don't need to know that the very thought of it makes you queasy."

All Around the Town

Once the season is in full swing, you won't be able to walk 20 feet without encountering a tray of cookies, a bowl of candy, or other tempting treats.

A simple, sincere "Oh, they look lovely, but I'll pass for now" should suffice. If someone absolutely insists you try Aunt Gert's fruitcake, graciously accept a small slice "for later" and discard it when you're gone.

Graceful Living

You don't have to choose between your healthy habits and good manners this season - or any time. Keep your spirit sparkling, your conversation warm and generous - and your opinions on yours and everyone else's diets to yourself. That should give you plenty to chew on!

(Edited by Paul Casciato)