Nutrition etiquette: you may have never heard about it, but it does exist. At least, it should.
Most likely, you’ve had some of these things done to you. I hate to sound harsh here, but if you do any of the following four things, you need to be put into the penalty box!
Don’t be that person. Please, no.
Commenting on what another person is eating.
Especially to tell them what an ‘indulgence’ it is.’
OMFG nothing bothers me more than someone commenting on what I’m eating. I actually spent years at my old job eating lunch at my desk instead of in the lunchroom, because this nosy-ass co-worker would always critique my salads. “How do you eat that much!” “Oh my god!” “Don’t you eat anything else but salad?”
Dude, get over it. I like big salads. And like anyone else in the world, I just want to eat in peace without someone the running commentary about my food choices.
Look, I get it: I’m a dietitian, and everyone looks at my plate to see if I actually eat like they think a dietitian eats.
When I do, they comment. When I don’t, they comment.
“You’re a dietitian and you’re eating cake/pizza/fried calamari/deli meat?!?!?!?!”
Seriously, piss off.
I’m far from the only person this happens to. The one thing I’ve learned over the years, is that when a person feels the need to make backhanded comments about what other people are eating, those comments are actually about the person who is making them. As in, insecurities about their own food choices and their own body come out in concern trolling or snarky opinions.
“I wish I could eat cake. You’re so lucky!”
“Ohhhhh! You’re eating chocolate! You’re SO BAD!”
“Wow! You eat a lot!”
“I thought you were on a diet?”
“I heard that the lunchmeat you’re eating causes cancer”
“I see you’re having fries. I’m having a salad!” (said with a self-righteous smirk)
These sorts of remarks are really shitty. Don’t be that person. Eyes on your own food.
The whole situation is a double edged sword. Not only is the person making the comments letting their own stuff get in the way of their happiness, the person receiving the comments gets to feel insecure, self-conscious, and shamed for their choices.
If you feel compelled to make these sorts of comments to others, try to look inwards at what’s really driving you to do it.
If you’re on the receiving end of these remarks, a snappy ‘eyes on your own food’ or a ‘wait, did I ask you to comment on what I’m eating?’ work perfectly to shut the person up.
I sort of wish I would have said those things to my co-worker. Pfft.
Talking about how ‘fat’ you are.
Using ‘fat’ as a derogatory term is incredibly insulting to larger people.
This might be a painful reality check, but nobody wants to hear you drone on about how uncomfortable you feel in your body. It’s boring and really – what do you want people to say?
If you’re feeling crap about yourself, those feelings are real and should be addressed properly. And trust me, if you’re always thinking about it, it needs fixing.
What also needs fixing is our usage of the word ‘fat.’
FAT is a descriptive word for both a macronutrient that’s damn delicious, and also a person who is in a larger body.
Somehow though, we’ve gotten to this place where far too many people use the word ‘fat’ to connote that a person is the following:
Less than a person
So when you feel the need to weaponize the word ‘fat’ against yourself or others, please take a step back and understand what you’re really saying.
Please understand how it can wound you and also wound other people.
Besides how it sounds to everyone else, putting yourself down really does horrible things to your self-esteem. It’s like this: if somebody tells you something over and over again, you begin to believe that it’s true, even if it’s not.
If your ‘tape’ constantly plays negative shit about you all day long – and yes, many people do this without even realizing – this negative self-talk ripples out to how you feel about yourself, but also to how you treat others, how others treat you, your food choices, your moods…pretty much everything in your life.
My upcoming book Good Food, Bad Diet, teaches you how to change your ‘tape.’ It’s definitely a process, but a worthwhile one. I promise. You can start right this second by consciously taking notice of every single time you put yourself down.
Start right now. How many times do you actually do it, in a day?
You might be surprised to see how often it occurs, because it’s so ingrained in your brain.
Once you know that you’re doing it, it’s easier to figure out where those thoughts originated, and it’s also easier to turn them around.
Remember: if you wouldn’t say it to someone you love, then you shouldn’t be saying it yourself.
Telling people that your diet is the best.
Listen up: every diet will work for someone, but no diet works for everyone.
Spend five minutes online, and you’ll see a crapload of health gurus, doctors, and random people, pontificating about how their diet is the answer to everyone else’s issues.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, so please don’t be that person who pushes their diet onto everyone else. One of my followers posted something the other day about how some vegan people she knows are pushing her to be vegan and because she hasn’t changed her diet yet, they keep telling her she’s ‘making excuses.’
We all have different lifestyles, philosophies, finances, preferences, genetics, backgrounds, living arrangements, and so much more. Just because something worked for you, doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for someone else. And hounding them to join your diet/MLM/fitspo group when they clearly don’t want to, is obnoxious.
You do your thing, let everyone else do theirs. Which brings me to the last point…
Giving out (or listening to) unqualified nutrition advice.
Just zip it and leave advice-giving to the professionals.
I hear allllll sorts of people giving out nutrition advice like it’s Halloween and they’re giving out candy. Okay, maybe not the best analogy here, but you get what I’m saying.
Do not tell people how and what to eat. And not because as a dietitian, I’m afraid of ‘losing business,’ as some people have implied. Seriously? Thanks for that vote of confidence, but nobody is losing any business because of someone else’s crap advice.
You should avoid giving out unqualified advice because it can be misinformed at best, and dangerous at worst.
Hey, we’re all experts in something! It’s also good to be an expert in staying in your lane.
And just as you shouldn’t be giving out nutrition advice if you’re not qualified (and no, having lost weight or fixed your symptoms doesn’t ‘qualify’ you for anything), you shouldn’t be TAKING advice from just anyone, either.
Like your hairdresser, who lost 80 pounds eating nothing but meat. Or that person on Facebook who seems to have all the answers. Or your aunt who swears that eating coconut oil will cure whatever ails you.
Yeah, stay away from those people.
In short, there are some things that are better left unsaid..to ourselves, and to everyone else.
What is normal eating? Read more here.