How to Respond to Rude Food Comments

People like to make rude food comments about food. I don’t know why our society is so obsessed with what the other person is eating but alas, that is our life.

A huge aspect of managing celiac disease means sharing with others your gluten-free needs. Whether it be in a social setting, at a restaurant, etc. we are constantly put in a place where our gluten-free diet is the topic of conversation.

While these settings can feel uncomfortable, especially as you’re learning to communicate your needs, they can be especially difficult when you’re responding to rude food comments. This is something that comes up A LOT on my Instagram.

So let’s discuss how to respond to rude food comments.

Is it Rude to Comment on Someone's Food?

Would you comment on someone’s body size? I hope your answer is no. Because commenting on someone’s food is just as harmful and hurtful as commenting on someone’s body size.

It implies judgment and even if it’s well-intentioned, can be very triggering for someone. Ultimately, someone’s food choices are no one else’s business.

As I like to say “eyes on your own plate”.

What's a Rude Food Comment

A rude food comment is any comment that is made about your plate, your preferences, and your eating habits. They often involve people discussing the type, amount, or quality of your food. Rude food comments about a gluten-free diet might look like:

  • Are you sure you can have that?
  • Are you sure that’s gluten-free?
  • But my gluten-free friend Karen ate here just fine.
  • Please, you’re overreacting.
  • You’re really not going to try any of this?
  • But I spent hours cooking this!
  • Can’t you just have a bite?
  • When are you going to grow out this?
  • Are you really still doing that gluten-free thing?
  • I heard people should also avoid (xyz).
  • Why do you always have to be so picky?
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Challenging the Food Police Involved in the Rude Food Comment

Dietitian Shelly from Confident Nutrition wrote an excellent article on this on her website, where she introduces a response based on where the comment lies on the food police spectrum.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of the “food police”, it’s a concept introduced in the Intuitive Eating framework developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch (that is an affiliate link to their amazing book on Intuitive Eating if you want to check it out).

Essentially, the food police are either the voices inside your head judging and shaming your for your food choice or it’s actual people doing the same.

In this case, while diet culture is definitely present in the game, handling the food police might be a little more nuanced than usual. That being said, the spectrum Shelly introduced is helpful none the less.

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The Spectrum of Rude Food Comments

So I won’t break it down too much because I think Shelly did a great job in her post, but essentially pay attention to the nature of the comment and assess your response from there.

Are there kind or mean intentions behind their comment? Are they genuinely curious or open to learning or are they shutting your needs down?

Depending on where on the spectrum the tone and purpose of their rude food comment lies, will help you determine how you’ll respond.

Kind intentions or ignorant intentions might be easily met with education and discussions where meaner intentions might be met with a change in subject, acknowledgement of the rude comment, and even just walking away.

Ultimately, the way you respond to rude food comments and what feels best for you is up to decide. That being said, I’ve drafted some sample responses to help you build up your own toolbox.

Rude Food Comments + Response Ideas

You're really Still doing that gluten-free Thing?

  • “yes, I have to live gluten-free for the rest of my life and I’d appreciate it if you’d support me with it”
  • “you still haven’t caught on to the fact that I’ll be gluten-free for the rest of my life due to my celiac diagnosis?”
  • “I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that to me.”

Why do you always have to be so picky?

  • “This is awkward, you’re mistaking my medically necessary dietary needs as choice…”
  • “I’m not being picky, I’m on a medically restrictive diet for a celiac disease diagnosis.”
  • “It really hurts me when you continue to disrespect my dietary needs.”

When will you grow out of this?

  • “The only treatment for celiac is a life-long gluten-free diet, so I won’t be growing out of this.”
  • “This is not something I can grow out of. Expect me to be gluten-free for the rest of my life.”
  • “One does not simply “grow” out of celiac disease…”
  • “There is no cure for celiac, so I’ll be gluten-free for life.”

Are you sure you can have that?

  • “Thanks for your concern, I take my gluten-free needs seriously, and this is gluten-free, so yes, I can have it.”
  • “I appreciate the concern, but it’s honestly none of your business.”
  • “Yes, unless there is something I don’t know about it…”
  • “Are you sure it’s any of your business?”

Can't you just have one bite?

  • “Unfortunately, event a bite will trigger an autoimmune response and make me sick, so no.”
  • “No, I can’t. You might not remember this, but even a crumb of gluten is enough to make me sick.”
  • “Would you say that to someone with a peanut allergy?”
  • “No I can’t.”
  • “Nope, not even just a bite.”

But I spent hours cooking it!

  • “It looks lovely, I can tell you really worked hard on this. Unfortunately, I can’t eat it for health reasons.”
  • “I appreciate the effort and I still can’t safely enjoy it. Thanks for understanding.”
  • “Unfortunately, the amount of time you spent doesn’t mean it’s safe for me, I’ll still have to pass.”

Living gluten-free with celiac disease can invite a lot of unwanted attention to your needs thanks to diet culture. Hopefully this post was helpful in helping you build confidence in managing responses to rude food comments you might face with celiac.

If you need more help building confidence and finding peace in your gluten-free life, feel free to reach out. I specialize in helping people build a better relationship with food, their body, and their gluten-free needs.

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