Nutrition Know It Alls

Steph Wagner MS, RDN

March 26, 2014

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Have you ever had someone eye-balling your plate, but not in a good way?

Not in a “hey what do you have there?!” sort of way, but rather in a way that says “hmmm…what will you be eating today?” Unfortunately, most of us have had this experience. Especially if you’ve had a weight-loss surgery. If people know you’ve had surgery, they are even more interested in what you are eating.

Food choices are incredibly personal. I think it’s quite similar to money. If someone gives you more advice than you were wanting about your spending habits, wouldn’t you feel a bit uncomfortable?

Sure, if I’m talking with a friend I will tell her what I ate that day. Also, I am a female. We do this. But if I didn’t really know someone, I would not discuss the weak moment I had last night when I ate half a sleeve of graham crackers. That would be weird. When we are confessing to a good friend, it’s all good. That’s what friends are for and accountability and “confession” is important. But how do you know where to draw the line?

If you’ve even been stuck in a Nutrition Know It All conversation, you know how uncomfortable it can make you feel.

You need to start Juicing. 

You need to eat Paleo. 

You need to watch Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.

You need to count your calories and work out harder. 

You need to drink more protein shakes.

It’s hard to not feel defensive. Or uncomfortable. Or insecure. Sometimes you think you should do what they are saying, but often times you don’t want to. What they are saying just doesn’t seem to be the right fit for you.

Food is SO personal. Be mindful of this when you are in conversation with someone. Whether you are on the receiving in, or you are the one sharing your thoughts. Sure, if something has worked wonderfully for you- it’s important to share!! But use words like “it’s worked well for me, I can tell you more if you are interested…” Be cautious to tell someone how they should be eating. But wait….Steph…you tell people what to eat all the time!

And my answer to that is….only if they ask.

While it has taken some time for me to understand my role, I decided a long time ago that I am not in the business of telling someone how to make food decisions, unless they’ve made the decision to consult me. Food conversations are something to be invited in to. I consider it an honor when someone feels comfortable enough with me to share their eating habits. I’m sure it’s much like sitting with my financial advisor. He reminds us our conversation is confidential and he thanks us for trusting him with conversations about our money. Hmm…that sounds familiar. If someone asks you how you lost weight, what you ate, or what works for you, I would encourage you to feel honored and grateful that they asked and are trusting you.

When you find yourself in conversations about food that you really didn’t want to be in, I encourage you to be respectful and kindly move the conversation to a new topic as you are able. Be gracious and don’t tell them “I don’t want to hear about your latest documentary.” I know this full well. When someone hears I’m a dietitian, they want to talk to me about their latest no meat, no dairy, no grain diet and all I can think of is how good that steak was last night. Stay gracious but slowly move the conversation to a new place.

When you find yourself wanting to talk about food choices and you feel you have not been invited in to the “food world” of someone’s life, take it slow. Perhaps the conversation will open up a little more or steer clear of food talk until you feel you know the person a little better.

Because food choices are very, very personal. And remember, not everyone is as eager to talk about it as others :)

I would love to hear from you. Have you had a “Nutrition Know It All” conversation??

One thought on “Nutrition Know It Alls”

  1. Oh my goodness YES I am so glad you wrote this post! I feel this way all the time! Especially with all the ladies and the few men I work with…..everyone wants to talk about food and what my latest thought about this product is, and what I think about this, and what am I eating today. Uggg it gets exhausting sometimes always being surrounded by food and food talk, but it sure makes me feel better to know that its not only me that feels this way! Sometimes I want to stop thinking about food and food choices and think about other things!

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