How to Deal with Comments on Your Dietary Needs

boundaries, eating disorder, health, diet

It can be quite tricky to navigate nutrition shaming without offending hosts or family members. It is important to remember that just as every person is unique, so too are their body’s needs and preferences.

When sharing about a diet, it can be tricky for a variety of reasons. Especially one that may be quite different from the hosts or other family members. Yet, there are some ways to communicate it more easily. Usually it is helpful to state it in simple and general terms. For example, ‘‘I have felt better/healthier than I have in a while”. By focusing on personalizing the food choices, the responder may be less likely to compare or make a judgmental comment. 

How to set expectations boundaries, eating disorder, health, diet

What tends to be most helpful is to be upfront about how these choices are different and may cause questions. Framing it with others that this is something that feels right for them and that support around it would be helpful is key. It does not need to impact their life significantly.

Additionally, navigating conversations away from food or quickly changing the topic, is helpful. It will signal to others this isn’t something you want to discuss. Role modeling by not commenting on others’ food is also key. 

If the comments go beyond unintentional judging and become unsupportive, addressing it directly with the person(s) individually is ideal. If that feels too challenging, it can also be helpful to request that a supportive family member share this with the family on their behalf.

Since food is such an important part of our lives and gatherings, addressing the issue sooner rather than later will help dissolve confusion, resentment, or even dissolution of relationships. Naming to the offending person that it feels like there is some concern, frustration, or judgment with the diet may provide them the space to explain their concerns or reasons behind the comments more thoroughly.

This could provide greater clarity on both sides regarding each person’s intentions and perspectives. Also, clarifying that there isn’t an expectation that the offender fully understands or agrees with their food choices, but that it is what feels right for them and would appreciate that this decision be respected by no comments being made.

Lastly, perhaps offering to direct them to resources so that they can learn and understand more on their own may help to decrease the need to continually explain or educate others.

Here are some strategies to handle such situations effectively:

  • Set boundaries: Clearly communicate your dietary needs to those around you. Let them know why certain foods may not be suitable for you and what kind of support you expect from them.
  • Educate others: Take the time to educate those around you about your dietary needs. Provide them with information about any health conditions or personal choices that influence your diet. This can help others understand your situation better and encourage them to be more respectful.
  • Respond with confidence: When faced with intrusive comments, respond confidently and assertively. Express your needs and preferences without apologizing or feeling the need to justify yourself excessively.
  • Redirect the conversation: If you feel uncomfortable discussing your dietary needs, redirect the conversation to a different topic. Politely steer the discussion towards a neutral subject to avoid further inquiries or comments about your food choices.boundaries, eating disorder, health, diet
  • Use humor: Employ humor to lighten the mood and defuse any tension. A light-hearted response can help you navigate the situation gracefully while subtly communicating that you are comfortable with your dietary choices.

How to take care of yourself as you manage your nutrition needs:

  • Seek support: If you find it challenging to handle intrusive comments on your own, confide in a trusted friend, family member, or support group. Sharing your feelings and experiences with someone who understands can provide emotional support and help you develop effective coping strategies.
  • Lead by example: Lead by example and show the positive effects of your dietary choices. Demonstrate how your dietary needs contribute to your overall well-being and encourage others to respect your choices and support your health goals.
  • Choose your battles: Not every comment or question requires a response. Consider the situation and determine whether it is necessary to address every intrusive comment. Learning to ignore or let go of unnecessary remarks can help you conserve your energy and maintain your peace of mind.
  • Practice self-care: Take care of your emotional well-being by engaging in activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress. Practice mindfulness, meditation, or any other activities that help you stay grounded and centered.
  • Seek professional advice: If you face persistent challenges or conflicts related to your dietary needs, consider seeking guidance from a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian. They can provide you with the necessary support and advice to navigate your dietary requirements effectively.

Remember that it’s essential to prioritize your well-being and respect your own boundaries. Handling intrusive comments with patience, confidence, and assertiveness can help you maintain a positive relationship with those around you while honoring your dietary needs.


If you would like to learn more about working with an Evolve clinician, reach out to us today!