“So what are you going to eat?”

 “Wait, why are you not eating?”

 “Are you, like, anorexic now hahah?”

“Oh, I forgot, you’re on a diet.”

“Oh, you’re on a diet, right?”

“How’s your diet going?”

“So, why are you on a diet?”

“Oh I’m pretty sure this is low calorie J “

“So, you’re for sure not eating any of this?”

YADA YADA YADA! You get the picture, don’t you?

This post has been a long time coming. It’s all about the A-word, awkwardness. There are some scenarios that you would just assume to be awkward…finding a glass doll that looks exactly like your mother, calling a Native American “an Indian giver,” dropping a junior mint in a surgical cavity, or finding out your boyfriend lied about being a marine biologist. There are some scenarios, though, that you just wouldn’t associate with awkwardness. Eating healthy is one of them.

When I changed the way I ate, I had no idea how much it would change the way I interacted with others and the way others reacted to me in social settings. I didn’t realize just how much people cared about what I was eating. It seemed as if they had a genuine investment in my eating happens. I believe this is because food, in itself, is quite relational. On holidays, we gather around and have a big meal. We celebrate life events by going out to dinner. We invite people to talk over coffee or lunch. I didn’t notice how important eating with other people was until I was no longer doing it.

When I turn down food, people are initially quite offended, taken aback, even. When I give them the reason behind my refusal: I’m trying to be healthy, they go full out, “poor little pinkus” on me. They give me a sad, empathetic look and give me a speech about how hard diets can be. Women will usually speak about how they did weightwatchers once or Atkins, back in the day. For someone like me, this is quite awkward, because I’m NOT on a diet. I am just trying to treat my body the way it should be treated. I eat healthy. That’s it. It’s hard for people, especially women, to understand why I would do such a thing. Naturally, this creates some awkwardness. I have some tips for dealing with, what I like to call, “food-borne- awkwardness.”

  1. Always have a drink with you: whether it’s water, coffee, tea, or juice, having a drink to sip on makes those around you a little more comfortable. They see you holding and enjoying some sort of food item and that’s a lot better than standing there with your hands in your pockets. 
  2.  Bring a snack with you: If you know everyone will be eating chocolate babka, bring a peach with you….Maybe a mackinaw peach. They’re only ripe for two weeks a year, you know 😉 
  3. Explain the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change: Politely, and without dragging it out, let people know that you aren’t on a “diet.” You aren’t trying to lose weight, you’re just a healthy eater. Remove the stigma.
  4. Bring healthy potluck items to group meals: If your family’s Festivus dinner tends to be on the unhealthy side, bring something nourishing and tasty to add to the potluck. You’ll be better off, anyway. Meatloaf and spaghetti are a little too heavy to be eating before the feats of strength.
  5. Be Honest With People: People deserve your straight-forwardness. Tell that you’re not uncomfortable, so they shouldn’t be. 

Hopefully these five tips will help you cope with food-borne-awkwardness. Remember, though, that there will always be people that don’t understand what you’re doing or perhaps, don’t agree with it. All you can do is make the appropriate accommodations, be tactful, and not take yourself too seriously. If all else fails, and people are really rubbing you the wrong way, you can always fall back on the good ol’ fashioned, “Serenity Now.”


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