Whether you’re a healthy eater, picky eater, or just an odd eater, chances are that you might catch a few comments from others making it hard to handle someone who criticizes the way you eat. Food is an intimate issue for many of us, as well as a personal one. For some people, food is just food. For others, it is a way to nourish ourselves, energize us, and for other people, food is an addiction, restriction or obsession. We all have different backgrounds and associations with food, and each time we eat, each of us has different tastes, cravings and feelings associated with the foods we eat. Over the years, I’ve developed such an appreciation for food on a healthy level, because when I eat good foods full of energizing nutrients, I feel alive, not fatigued, heavy, sleepy or depressed. Yet, some people aren’t used to seeing people eat differently, even if it happens to be healthy. I’ve had to learn to handle plenty of criticism, confusion and questions about my diet for the last few years. Finally, I’m okay with that and thought I’d share some tips with you all if you need to learn some helpful ways to handle someone who criticizes the way you eat, such as your family, friends, coworkers, etc. Read on for my tips, and feel free to share yours with me!
1. Don’t Get Defensive
One of the most important tips for learning how to handle someone who criticizes the way you eat is also the hardest. Whatever you do, to correctly handle the situation, don’t get mad and throw up your defenses when someone says something rude about the way you eat. While you don’t deserve to be treated unfairly for what’s on your fork, there is a better way to handle the criticism than throwing up your defenses, which will just make people more judgmental of you, and less likely to respond to you in a positive way.
2. Don’t Feel Bad about Yourself
For a time, I actually began to feel bad about how I ate even though I knew it was healthy, nutritious and satisfying to me. When my family said my food looked weird, or they ate very differently than me, I also felt out of place. As a vegetarian and health nut in a family who eats typical southern foods, like meats, potatoes, rice, some fast food, etc., I was definitely the odd ball of the family, but I was okay with that after some time. Food does not define you; remember that. You need to choose foods that nourish you, satisfy you and fill your body with living nutrients that will help you think clearly, be active and get good quality rest. Never feel bad about eating that way, even if someone else doesn’t understand. Remember that you chose your food for you- no-one else.
3. Answer Back Politely
If someone says they think what you’re eating is gross, or questions what you’re eating or why, learn to answer back the right way. You can try saying something direct, yet also polite, such as, “I appreciate you being concerned about the way I eat, but I choose these foods because they energize me, satisfy me, and I like them. After all, isn’t that what food is for?” Usually, the other person may still not understand, but they’ll usually just shrug it off and move on.
4. Put It in Perspective
At the end of the day, we’re only responsible for what we feed ourselves, not what other people feed themselves. If you have a family and cook for someone, of course you’re responsible somewhat for what they eat. However, if you cook for yourself, or cook differently for members of your family, remember that no matter what they think about the way you eat, you must choose foods that you enjoy. Don’t worry about everyone else is doing, and don’t worry what they think about what you’re doing. Again, our food doesn’t define us, so choose what makes you happy.
5. Eat with Others
The best way to help others accept you for you and not for what you eat is to actually embrace being around them when eating. It would be easy to hide away and eat alone out of fear someone may say something, so instead, just eat your preferred food with others. If they don’t move on after making a few comments, then perhaps you need to consider who you hang around with. Yet, if your friends and family that love you say something, it is probably just out of curiosity or concern. Case in point: my mother questioned a lot of my foods, as did my brother, when I started eating healthy and differently than they did. Once I explained why I liked my foods and the nutrients they had in them, they still thought I was odd, but they don’t say anything anymore. They also eat around me and don’t comment on my food anymore. Eating with others is the best way to help them adapt to people eating differently than they do.
6. Offer to Let Them Try It
This one can take a bit of courage, but if you’re up to it, offer someone a bite of your food, or even make a serving for them to try. A friend of mine thought my green smoothies were the craziest idea ever, so I made her one after we went for a long walk one day. She loved them so much she made me write down every ingredient I put in it so she could go to the store and buy some for herself. I’m not saying this works every time. For instance, my mom hated my green juice I made for her one day, and she’s not always a fan of the healthier baked goods I make. I still offered her a serving to show her I was confident enough in my food to share it with her. If you're willing to be open about your diet and let others into your diet and lifestyle that are curious, you'll get further with them than simply getting mad, shutting down, and pushing them away.
7. Be Passionate
The best way to handle someone who criticizes you regarding your diet is to be as passionate as you can about the way you eat. Most of the time, when people see you really enjoying your food and loving it, and also see you energized and happy, they’ll no longer question your diet. They’ll see it fulfills you, satisfies you and gives you the energy you need to go throughout your life. Being passionate and confident in the way you eat will prove to everyone that you don’t need them to accept the way you eat to be confident it’s the right diet for you.
Have you ever had someone criticize the way you eat? Feel free to share any tips you have in the comments section below. You can also visit my blog where I’ve written about this issue as well at: soulfulspoon.com.