You can spill your drink, get food stuck between your teeth or on your face, or fail to use your knife and fork in the most polite way possible. What you may not realize, though, is that your approach to ordering or accepting the host's offer of a lovely meal may lead you to appear to be a picky eater.New research shows that you affect the impression you make on others during a meal if you have a dietary restriction involving gluten.On top of all the other situations that can go south at a first meal, this only complicates the situation.

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Furthermore, as the authors note, “Someone who is picky with food choices might be seen as someone who would be high-maintenance in other aspects of their life” (p. And then, finally, taking into account gender stereotypes, the gluten-free man should be at particularly high risk for looking not just picky, but too “feminine.” Being gluten-free, the authors suggest, should detract less from the impression a woman makes compared to a man. investigated the impact of being gluten-free on people’s perceptions of potential romantic partners.

In the first study, a sample of 161 undergraduates (about two-thirds female) completed open-ended measures assessing the gluten-free stereotype (using an open-ended question) and what a gluten-free date would be like.

Research on impression management established years ago the maxim that you’ve got approximately 15 seconds to show off your good side to someone new.

People form judgments, whether correct or not, within that brief interval, and anything you do to change that conclusion will be tough indeed.

When you’re with people who know you well, your intolerance is less likely to create a problem.

The first time you’re having a meal with someone, though, it’s necessary for you to offer an explanation when you say you can’t eat whatever it is that your condition requires.

However, the status of being unable to eat foods containing gluten may affect that all-important first impression you’re trying to make. (and) what people consume can have important implications for the impression they convey to their partner” (p. There are, they note, “consumption stereotypes,” or preconceived ideas that people have about others based on the foods they eat.

According to Western Connecticut State University’s Maya Aloni and colleagues (2019), “the sharing of a meal is a common and well-scripted dating activity . They wondered: Would the gluten-free individual fall prey to one of those stereotypes?

Some participants ridiculed the diet in their open-ended responses.

There were some redeeming qualities, however, associated with the gluten-free diet, such as being health-conscious and self-disciplined.

The Western Connecticut State authors observe that there are pluses and minuses to letting others know about your dietary restrictions.