By Jody Long Gluten free, vegan, dairy free, vegetarian. You've heard these terms before. Food sensitivities, food allergies, diet restrictions. You've heard these too. It may seem overwhelming when your guests tell you they can only eat this, and they can't eat that. Customizing food options is becoming more and more popular thanks to a growing number of people who require certain diets. It's inevitable that your guests will have limitations that you need to accommodate. Here's some helpful hints that you can use next time you've got an event that includes any kind of catering. Ask ahead of time. Include a spot on your registration form for your guests to include any food allergies or diet restrictions. A box where they are able to type in their response is a better way of having them include the details of their limitations, rather than a check box. This way you can be sure you're meeting their needs, and this will also make your guests feel more comfortable in telling someone that there are certain foods they can't eat. You want everyone to enjoy your event, and that includes the food. Work with the caterer. This isn't the first time your caterer has worked within certain food guidelines for their guests. And it certainly won't be their last. So don't feel bad letting the head chef know that you'll have attendees with special diet needs. Their job is to feed their customers satisfying good. And your job is to gather those food details and relay them to the right people. Buffets are great options for a group with many different needs. A buffet will allow your guests to pick and choose what they want, without being singled out. Not only should you think about the individual food needs of your guests, but consider the big picture too. An overwhelming lunch with lots of carbohydrate options can leave everyone feeling too full, sluggish and possibly unfocused for the remainder of the day. And then comes the afternoon snack. Most caterers will offer sweet snack options loaded with sugar for an afternoon pick-me-up. When we all know that the sugar rush will only last for so long before your guests have that afternoon crash. Instead, consider proteins to lift everyone's energy. Consider a lunch with salads, fruits and light options. Choose power foods packed with protein like nuts. Lighter sugar options can include fruits, vegetables with dip, and yogurts with tasty granola. And don't forget your coffee drinkers. Be sure to offer a variety of flavors, including decaf.