How to respond when your family and friends judge your food choices

by | Dec 18, 2021 | Last updated Feb 25, 2023

Is there ever a family gathering without a lively—and likely uncomfortable—conversation at the dinner table?

Unfortunately, when we’re trying to shed pounds, our loved ones often feel entitled to make comments on our food choices.

Whether you want to defuse the situation with humor or set a firm boundary, we have a variety of ways for you to tactfully respond to any relative who judges your choices.  

Who: Your sister 
What: “Are you really going to eat that?”
How to respond: “Yes, I am. Would you like some?”

Who: Your grandmother 
What: “I’ll take some. In fact, I’ll take seconds! Why aren’t you eating more?”
How to respond: “I want to feel comfortable after dinner. Plus, I can’t miss having a slice of your famous blueberry cobbler, so I want to be sure to save room.”

Who: Your brother-in-law
What: “Blueberry cobbler, really? Aren’t you trying to be healthy?”
How to respond: “Health is about more than the food you consume. I’m trying to have a healthy relationship with food. There are some great articles I could send you if you’re interested in learning more.”

Who: Your cousin
What: “Speaking of health being about more than food—I’m hitting the gym tomorrow to burn off all the calories I’m eating tonight. Want to join me?”
How to respond: “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t think I need to get rid of the calories. I don’t want to hurt their feelings.”

Who: Your family friend 
What: “But, won’t you feel gross tomorrow if you don’t work out?”
How to respond: “No, I don’t think so. I think I’ll feel really happy that I was able to nourish myself with food that I enjoy and spend time with people I love. Pass the potatoes?”

Who: Your parents
What: “Nourish? Honey, this mac and cheese alone has a full year’s worth of fat. It’s so bad for you.”
How to respond: “I don’t see it that way. Food doesn’t have morals—it’s not good or bad. Food is simply food. I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t make comments about the foods I’m about to enjoy.”

Although your loved ones may be expressing their care for you or sharing their concerns for your health, their intentions may not always feel pure. We hope that these examples provide you with the inspiration and courage you need to prioritize your needs and protect your peace the next time you’re at a crowded dinner table with loved ones.

Other articles you might like: