Dealing with Special Diets at Bed and Breakfasts

As a follow-up to the post Breakfast is More than a Meal You Serve, this post addresses guests who have special dietary needs.

One of the things I never realized I would have to keep track of and learn about were food trends, including special diets.  Gluten-free and lactose-free are the most common requests.To be on the safe side, I suggest you ask the guest whether it is due to an allergy or an intolerance.


For instance, Celiac Disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.

If you are preparing breakfast for someone with Celiac disease, you will need to set-up a separate food preparation area and use a different toaster and utensils to avoid cross-contamination.  You can find a good list of gluten-free foods and menu ideas HERE.

For people with an intolerance to gluten (or wish to avoid it), gluten may make them uncomfortable, but it is not going to do long-term physical damage.  I tended to treat these people the same as those with an allergy and used gluten free products for them also.


Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk-products and is used as an additive to help products dissolve quickly.  It is widely used in pancake and waffle mixes, processed meats and even medications; therefore, you need to read product labels very carefully.  If you want to make sure you avoid any problems, use vegan products, which are guaranteed to be lactose free.

In the post Breakfast is More than a Meal You Serve, I talked about my favourite egg dish of scrambled eggs.   I offered a choice of ham, cheese or smoked salmon (all of which were chopped and ready to go), plus fresh herbs from the garden.  The plate was garnished with fresh tomatoes and toast and more herbs.  To modify it for gluten-free diets, all I had to do substitute gluten-free bread; for lactose-free don’t offer the cheese and remember to not butter the toast for that person.  And voila – no muss, no fuss on my end and they get the same delicious meal that everyone else does.

What if you have guest with an unusual dietary needs and even with a little research can’t find a recipe that you know will work?  Ask the guest what they would normally eat and use that as the basis for your breakfast.

Every Friday is #FoodieFriday on my Facebook page.  Follow me to get some ideas for your bed and breakfast guests!

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