“Oh my God! You’re going to eat that doughnut?”
“What have you got for lunch? Rabbit food again?”
“Don’t bother offering those to Helen. She doesn’t eat unhealthy food.”
I’ve worked in 5 different office environments since I was 18, but I’ve never worked in an office where people don’t comment on other people’s food intake. Diet culture comes (unfortunately) sort of hand-in-hand with office culture. As somebody who has always made an effort to bring healthy food into work, I’ve had to deal with these sorts of comments for the best part of my career.
My relationship with food was particularly complicated from the age of 19-24 when I was obsessed with eating ‘clean’, non-processed foods – it was then that comments like this used to bother me. Every day I would bring in tupperware containing chicken breast or hard-boiled eggs which always sparked comments from my colleagues. I would sometimes sneak off to eat my lunch on my own so I wasn’t subjected to questioning or raised eyebrows, but most of the time I’d just take it with a pinch of salt and laugh it off.
Food-shaming is criticising someone for eating something that doesn’t match your own definition of what’s “good” or “correct”. The criticism isn’t always direct, but is usually a clear negative judgement. Everybody has their own thoughts and opinions on food (whether it’s complete BS or not), but I don’t think it’s right for us to pass judgement on others food choices and I definitely don’t think it’s right to moralise food. With that being said, I also don’t think that food should become a taboo subject where we’re all walking on eggshells, afraid of offending everyone.
It’s important to remember that what someone chooses to eat (or not eat) can be a deeply personal choice. Especially if they have struggled with their relationship with food or body image issues which are both (unfortunately) very common.
Yes, it’s annoying when people comment on what you’re eating. Especially when you have a good understanding of nutrition and they don’t… No I don’t need to hear what happens to my insulin levels when I eat white bread, Karon! Are you a nutritionist or are you our data analyst!?
We can’t control what people say to us, but we can control how we respond. As difficult as it seems, try to ignore it. Especially when you’re up against people like Karon who will try forcing the Keto diet down your throat (pun intended) every spare moment of your day. Be confident in your choices and don’t let people make you feel guilty or ashamed of them. If you really feel uncomfortable then you can always speak to somebody in HR.