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How Do You Politely Decline from Eating Other People’s Food?

How do you politely decline from eating other people’s food? I know this question seems a little ridiculous, but some people get really offensive about eating their food, particularly when they spent a lot of time preparing it. Summer is just around the corner and I’m sure there are a number of people like me trying to watch what they eat so they can look somewhat decent in a swimsuit. Or people simply choose to eat healthy for the common sense health reasons. 

First scenario that I am referring to is the little retired lady next door who does nothing but sit at home and bake cookies from scratch all day. As soon as you get home from work, she greets you in your yard with the oh-so-noticeable foil covered dish in her hands. While handing her 3000-calorie dish to you she explains that she used her great-grandmother’s secret recipe and will be asking how you liked them next time she sees me. I just smile, nod, and take the cookies in the house. My daughter devours ten of them and asks if I want one. I tell her no and she says, “You told her you would eat one.” Yes, but I told myself that I wouldn’t!

Whenever there is a hint of non-nutritious food in the house, my daughter guards it like gold. Since my husband and I have decided to change our eating habits to more health-conscious ones, my daughter refers to our grilled fish or chicken with rice meals “jail food”. So, she likes to harbor junk food in our pantry. Later, the nice lady asks how I liked the cookies and of course asks in front of my daughter. Had my daughter not been there, I would have pretended that I had eaten the cookies and told her how fabulous they were. With my daughter standing there, I could not lie because that would not set a very good example. My daughter of course blurts that I did not eat any. Immediately disappointment comes across the lady’s face. She of course asks, “Do you not like cookies? I could bake you something else.” I then have to confess that I choose not to eat sugary foods. Then she says, “Why do you watch what you eat? You are thin and young; you should eat whatever you like to eat.” I just want to yell, “If I ate whatever I wanted to, then I wouldn’t be thin! That’s why I watch what I eat.” Older ladies just don’t get the whole concept of eating right. They grew up in the days when butter was used to cook every side dish that went with their fried entrée. Their mother’s taught them to cook with love. So they thrive in making stick-to-your-ribs (and hips) type meals. 

Second scenario is when your office decides that every Thursday should be potluck. Everyone brings in their favorite comfort foods like buffalo wings, double chocolate brownies, or fried pork chop in mango sauce. It’s like a contest for who can bring in the most fattening meal! Of course, I bring something that I would actually eat which is wheat crackers with a light spread or a tossed salad. As the line moves down the potluck table you hear the snickers when they get to my dish, “Who brought the health food?” The apparent winner of the potluck is the person that gets the most oohs and aahs about their dish. Then, that person goes around to everyone’s plate to make sure you tried their dish and get your review of it. I always get the same response: “You didn’t try my dish?” 

I just wish that everyone could accept the fact that some people just simply like to watch what they eat and make healthy eating choices. For me in particular I like my new eating style because not only am I more confident because my clothes fit better and I like what I see in the mirror, but my body literally feels stronger and healthier. A few months ago when I had no qualms about eating fast food, I recall my body always feeling sluggish and I always felt blah and tired. I don’t want to feel that way again. So, I just wish I knew the magical (polite) answer when people ask me why I don’t eat their food.