So yesterday a member of one of my Medifast Facebook groups -- let's call her Carol -- started an interesting thread about co-workers who make derisive comments about her diet. She had declined to partake in the chicken tenders, rolls and potato salad served at a lunch meeting, and someone remarked, "Oh, are you going to be eating your special diet food?"
What's weird is that Carol could have easily responded with some equally snarky comment about her co-worker's hyper-carby meal and how sleepy she and the others would feel after lunch. But having been raised by non-wolves, she just smiled and said "yes" while smarting inside over the rudeness of being called out for eating differently.
While everyone on the thread agreed there is really nothing you can say to jerkwads who try to make you feel like an oddball for not eating what everyone else is eating, the thread digressed to a more general discussion of whether it is ever polite to comment or ask about other people's diets.
To me this dilemma is similar to asking to touch the belly of a pregnant woman. Some expectant mothers are extremely offended when someone requests to touch their belly while others think it is cool that someone wants to share in their miracle.
Though some people who deviate from the standard American diet don't like to be asked what they're eating or why, others welcome the question and relish the chance to talk about it.
The problem is you don't always know who is who.
Personally, I am fascinated by what other people eat, but I always test the water before diving into the pool. I'll ask a simple question or make a comment about someone's meal and then check to see how they react. If they act like I just asked how much money they make, I'll back off immediately. But if they seem comfortable with my food question, I usually follow up. More often than not, I learn something beneficial and forge a tighter bond with that person.
Like weather, food is a great universal ice breaker; and it's a far more interesting topic. I mean how many times can you say, "Wow, it's really hot outside today!"
My only advice is to refrain from criticizing the way other people eat or suggesting that your way of eating is superior to theirs. How we eat is a deeply personal subject, and if someone is trusting enough to discuss this subject with you, it's not cool to show disdain for their choices.