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Dear Cassey,
What’s your advice for handling criticism when watching what you eat? Since I’ve started making smarter choices, I’ve noticed that people LOVE to comment on what I am or am not eating, and it makes me super self conscious. I think that since I’m on the skinnier side people assume I can/should eat whatever I want, but crappy food just makes me feel crappy so I try to avoid it. What would your response be to people making snarky or nosy comments about your food choices? I don’t want to be rude, but I also wish people were more supportive about being healthy.
Thanks! 
My Plate Is My Choice 
healthy bowl of cut fruit on white surface

Dear My Plate Is My Choice,

UGGHH I would love to tell you that I’ve totally figured this out, but I’d be lying. It’s really hard not to let these comments get to you, especially when they come from family and friends.

I’ve learned some good ways to handle these situations. It’s actually been helpful to understand WHY people make these comments in the first place.

Many times, it’s a reflection on their own insecurities. I know the comments may come off as rude and snarky, but MOST of the time, people mean well. They might feel insecure about their own plate or their body. Who knows, maybe they are legitimately curious about why you’re eating what you’re eating so they can make better choices. Their delivery might just be uh… awkward. Not always the case, but sometimes!

I’ve also learned that most people really have no clue that they’re hurting you. Even if they don’t necessarily mean well, they probably don’t think it’s going to deeply bother you. It definitely doesn’t make it okay for them to dissect your plate, but knowing how thoughtless these comments usually make it easier to roll them off and move on :)

So…how do we respond to snarky food comments? Should you respond at all?

I think YES, in most instances.

It’s your chance to educate and shut this kind of talk down. BUT you are in NO WAY responsible for justifying your food choices to anyone. So here are some things that might work for you:

  • Stay positive – there’s no benefit to battling snarkiness with more snarkiness
  • Keep it short – shut the convo down quickly if you’re uncomfortable. Don’t let this conversation ruin your mood!

So if someone mentions your plate being “too healthy” or “not having enough on it,” you could simply say “yeah, there’s so much to choose from! I’ll get more if I’m still hungry later.”

If they comment on your overall diet and say you should “live a little” or “go eat a cheeseburger” (WHY is this always a go-to comment?!), tell them EXACTLY what you said in the question! “I eat those foods sometimes, but I realized my body feels a lot better when I eat healthier.” End of discussion. No further explanation needed.

If people keep pushing, change the subject or just end the convo altogether.

Hopefully, this helps you navigate these situations a little easier. They can seriously be sooo uncomfortable and annoying. If people honestly want to learn about the way you eat, comparing plates and making rude comments is NOT the way.

BTW – I’m so proud of you for eating what feels good for YOU. It’s not always easy when there’s so much pressure and judgment around, but keep going! It might not always seem like it, but you’re probably inspiring someone (or many) to do the same!

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

The Conversation (38)

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  • Kate says:

    This song gets me through the harsh comments that are intentionally hurtful from my grandmother (even though when I talk to her about it she “honestly thinks” she isn’t saying hurtful things). Stay strong everyone, I have a restrictive diet with a lot of allergens and everyone’s diet is different and the journey is different. I hope this song gives yall the inspiration and courage to keep doing what you know is best for your body and what makes you feel good and healthy. The song is Up by Disney’s Star Darlings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oRzJ6Nm2x8&fbclid=IwAR2_el8ksKKwS_5DcCZS02OsvzxZnc9AUfT9vL6WWUr9zUIzpj8_PzNsl3k

  • Mistralka says:

    Haha, it happens to me and my partner all the time. Whenever he says he wants to gain mass (he’s actually underweight for his height and digests food super fast, goes right through him…) he usually gets the “do you want to be fat?” comment. I probably have many food sensitivities and my body really lets me know about it fast (although I can’t keep my streak on the 28 days reset challenge, my sugar addiction defeats me ;~;), so when I say I avoid certain foods, people look at me weird and ask why I want to get even skinnier… It actually happened yesterday, so I just explained it’s not a diet for losing weight, but to see which foods and in what amounts I should avoid in order to feel good. For the first time I got a nod of understanding, it felt strange, but good :D

  • Inoshi says:

    I sometimes tell people that I don’t eat unhealthy stuff that is why I am lean , if I ate the burger would they run 5 miles the next day for me please!!

  • eve says:

    i must admit i might have made a comment or two but its only because a loved one suffered from a severe ED and im trying to look out for my friends.

  • eve says:

    i must admit i might have made a comment or two but its only beacuase a loved one suffered from a severe ED and im trying to look out for my friends.

  • Baojam says:

    Do what works for you! I’ve transitioned on and off of a vegetarian diet due to my meat intolerance. I’ve notice that most of the time people are truly curious about your lifestyle style as a way to better understand you. They may not be noticing that they are coming off harshly. Take this as a teaching moment! Food and nutrition various for everyone. If they keep coming back with attitudes, then they aren’t worth your time because nothing you say will change their mind. Do you boo boo! I simply say “This is what works for me. I know my body.”

  • Vanessa Wikel says:

    Having gluten, lactose and soy allergies I can tell you no matter what job I’ve had I”ve always made people feel uncomfortable when there’s been some work function, or a coworker offered food, and well, I couldn’t eat it. I also don’t drink and eat mod-low carb, high fat, mod protein. I can say most people feel super uncomfy no matter how positive you are, then there are the insecure folk who literally are jealous they don’t have the will power to teach themselves how to cook for their body needs, or just treat their bodies better, and THEN there are the people who actually are accepting. It’s rare, but they do exist. Usually they also eat the same way you do! No matter what type of person I’ve encountered I just shrug it off. That really irks the negative people LOL. I mean they look at is ‘you don’t want to fit into work culture, or think you’re better’, but I don’t give a rats behind. I think the fact that I’m so happy treating my body well and taught myself to cook and bake really put speaks volumes, whereas the folk who want to gossip or treat me poorly because of having food allergies, are uh…on the opposite spectrum. So all I can say is folk, you can’t please anyone, everyone, blah blah. Just do you and don’t care anymore. ‘Those folk’ aren’t worth your time. My family has given me crap too and i just ignore it …except I’ll sometimes crack a joke like “ok I’ll eat gluten and then live in your bathroom for two weeks and you can work for me instead since I”ll be bed ridden for DAYS. ;)” lol That usually shuts them up! XD But honestly, most of the time I just don’t even respond and do my thing. I just don’t want to waste energy on it.

  • Katheryn says:

    Maybe, one of the great advantages of having arrived at my age, as of yesterday 66, is that I no longer really care what others think. My daughters praise me regularly, which is very sweet. But, what others may think or wish to say?????? Who are they in my life that I must pay attention?? I don’t. At my age, I have a strong career, a lovely home, I am fit, healthy and happy. (Thanks Cassie) So, if someone can find something to be nasty about, they are particularly looking. Do I really want such people in my life? No. If you know yourself and are true to that self, you do not have to answer to anyone else’s non-helpful criticism.

  • Ashley says:

    I’m not super thin but not fat as well. I have tried super hard to lose all that baby weight after delivery. Now I really want to reduce body fat %
    Now my eating habits are bad these days since I’ve almost hit the weight goal. Help me increase my motivation. I’ve started doing weight training to build lean muscle but all I need is some motivation

  • Margaret says:

    In all honesty, sometimes questions about what we are eating are valid and justified. Had my family ignored my own eating habits, my eating disorder would have consumed me. Sometimes what we think is the ‘healthy’ choice is not enough to fuel our active lives, or to enjoy being on this planet. You don’t have to eat every slice of cake (but I’m going to definitely eat my favorite cake on my birthday), or have a salad every single day. I think that when people comment, we should listen. But we should also work towards feeling secure enough in ourselves that when we know (truly know, not the ED know or the anxious ‘this is what I must eat today’ know) that what is on our plate is enough for our bodies and nourishes our souls, then we can say, ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ Listen with openness and respond with kindness.

    • blogilates says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience! Yes, it definitely all depends on the situation and the people we surround ourselves with. For some, it’s about wanting to make a healthier meal choice and then having someone at the table who may be insecure about their own eating choices make a shaming comment. Situations like this can be common and frustrating for many who just want to eat what their bodies are asking for.

      I am glad to hear that you have a loving support system around you!

  • Anastasia says:

    Yess! So many friends and family keep making these comments and they just make you feel bad and can affect me to the point I end up binge eating later! I also find it ironic that if do eat more these same people comment that I shouldn’t be doing that either, no way to please them! Thank you so much for this post! X

  • A says:

    100 percent identify and agree with you! It’s completely up to the individual if somebody is content with eating less healthy consistently, but its quite bizar actually that you’ll get comments about being lean or making healthy lifestyle choices nowadays. But you’re right, I just have to remind myself it’s up to me to be happy with myself :)

  • Natalie says:

    It really sucks. I was “plate shamed” when I was heavier and lighter. Am in an ED recovery, and my family doesn’t respect and keep doing it

  • Michaela says:

    If you’re on the skinnier side, everything is even worse. I’m healthy weight yet people still assume I have eating disorder. Those comments are incredibly hurtful especially when you’re healthy and fit. It makes you question your lifestyle choices and your looks. I’m quite confident but when I hear something like “Eat a burger!” or “Real women have curves!” it makes me feel really bad about myself. But I guess all of us get nasty comments from time to time. We have to learn not to let it get to us. :)

    • Daniella Rodriguez says:

      Ugh. I get what you are saying and I feel it. But you know what? I chose to not let it get to me because at the end of the day I know my body and I know what it needs. They don’t. They just judge me and I won’t let it get in my way, instead that’s gonna help me to be stronger each day and to get to know more about myself in a deeper level. Keep up the good work!💪 You’ve got this.

  • A.b says:

    I have definitely dealt with this from close family um and I will admit I
    Got a little defensive bc really what do they care what I eat? I’m not making them eat it, but I also know it stems from insecurity and and stress that they aren’t able to make a change at the moment. Honestly though I wish people would just let me be.

  • Em says:

    I recently became a pollotarian (similar to a vegetarian or pescatarian but I only eat poultry, it’s a step closer into becoming a vegetarian) and since then I’ve had so many people, my family especially, tell me to go eat a cheeseburger or that my decision was stupid. It makes me feel angry because why is it anyones business what I put into my body. If I’m happy with what I’m eating I’m happy with it and if it’s not a problem for me or my health then why do others treat it like it’s their problem. Thank you so much for the tips on better responding to others around me, I think they are going to come in handy.

  • Sugar addict says:

    Hi Cassey,

    I’m sure you’ve heard this one a million times but I feel I have a sugar addiction!! I’m in the habit of having chocolate every day! I crave it constantly and nothing else seems to fill the void.

    I’ve heard that the more you have it the more you want it but I’ve tried cutting it out for a while and that hasn’t seemed to help.

    The craving gets really bad at certain times of the month but is always constant.

    I’m getting frustrated with myself because I can’t seem to make healthy food choices at the moment!

    Any tips for chocolate cravings would really help.

    Thanks! Xxx

    • Tough but Trying says:

      You should try Lily’s Chocolate. It’s sweetened with Stevia, but it still tastes really good

  • RachelMarona says:

    Thank you for this post!! I have IBS (maybe TMI? lol) BUT ever since I started eating better and not drinking like I used to, I have lost a lot of weight. People have made so many comments like these, but they only see my outward appearance. They don’t see that my guts are thanking me for treating them nicely. People never know the reasons behind someone’s choice to treat their body the way they choose to. I FEEL soo much better and I don’t remember the last time I have had a flare up! Thank you for being so positive and inspirational to us <3

  • Karah says:

    As someone who sucks at speaking up for themselves, I’m so scared of these situations. I recently started eating plant based/vegan a month ago and I stick to 80/20 for the soul purpose of not wanting to have to deal with comments and awkward situations for myself. I am finding out that it’s not as bad as I thought and I’m at about 90/10 now and I feel great! Thanks for the article!

  • Linda says:

    I’ve also had these comments made to me from family, friends, and coworkers!! My responses now are “I already ate that” or “I like being ‘regular’ ;).” It’s annoying to be judged for their own food projections.

    • SRipley says:

      That regular comment is such a brilliant idea! XD Probably the most perfect comeback (if people just have the nerve to say it!). So if those nosy-parkers want to keep the convo/criticism going, then yes, let’s discuss gut discomfort and bowel activity! If they wanna know, let ’em know ;p Such a perfect way to make the point and hopefully discourage them from doing the same to others.

  • Goodness thank you for shedding light on this! I hate food pushers. Or any pushers in general.

    This is a good article to reread come Christmas time and Thanksgiving!

  • Tough but Trying says:

    What I have trouble with is when I start to eat healthy, people give me crap if I indulge in something that is “not healthy”. They say “I thought you were supposed to be eating HEALTHY” It really sucks cuz then I feel bad about treating myself.

    • Carmen says:

      This also happens to me. People don’t seem to understand that you are changing your lifestyle. They always think that because you’re starting to lead a healthier life, you always need to eat healthy. I have found that the best way is to explain to them that it’s not just a diet I do for a month, it’s a new way of living and lest be realistic, you can lead a healthy life and enjoy the “less healthy” food once in a while. It is also your choice, enjoy the moment and be proud of yourself for the progress you have made!!

      • Daniella Rodriguez says:

        I feel you and I am working on this. I said 2020 was gonna be a new me and what I mean “new me” I also mean “different mindset”. I don’t want you to let what people say to you rules your mindset even your food choices. Get to know more about yourself, be happy, enjoy food remember this is a long term progress. Don’t let others dictate the way you eat and never change your sustainable eating plan. You’ve got this💪. I said that to myself too😉

    • Marija says:

      tell ’em to google ‘cheat meal’ 😆

    • Keep Persisting! says:

      I might respond with something like, “Eating my favorite foods now and then keep me happy, and being happy helps me stay healthy!”

    • Haley J Albaum says:

      You can respond with “a healthy lifestyle for me includes balance, don’t worry I’ve got this but thanks for your input” 😉

    • Daniella Rodriguez says:

      Don’t say that to yourself. There”s nothing wrong with eating a burger, icecream or even donuts as long as they are not your daily basis thing

  • Rachael says:

    I usually say, “I eat this way to cut down on muscle and joint inflammation.” It usually shuts the person right down unless they want to talk about tumeric, that comment does get me a lot of tumeric chat.

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