Remarks about food choices grow tiresome
Q: I’m going on vacation soon with my in-laws, siblings-in-laws, and their spouses. Over the last few years, I’ve been working on eating fewer unhealthy foods like bread and dairy, and as a result I feel much better. This has resolved many stomach issues I’ve dealt with.
Every time I am with my husband’s family, the mood is "vacation" or "celebration" and the foods they serve are always those I try to avoid, like pasta for dinner and chocolate cake.
I get looks and occasional comments about declining those foods, such as how annoying the gluten-free trend is. Do you have a suggestion for how to handle this?
Lifestyle Choices Burn
A: Yes, the commentary is annoying and pushy — not to mention the fact that a welcoming family would make at least a minimal effort to provide food everyone can eat.
But they’re saying a lot about themselves and virtually nothing about you, because they’re butting into something that just doesn’t affect them. You’re taking personally what isn’t personal.
Through trial and error, you learned that you could resolve your stomach issues by not eating bread and dairy. OK then! So you don’t eat them, that’s a good start. Now finish the job by responding just as matter-of-factly to your in-laws: You’re you and they aren’t and so let’s move on:
"Yes, thank you, the gluten-free thing is annoying — I’d give anything to eat cake without feeling sick. Oh, and bread ... don’t get me started."
I do take issue with one remark you make here, and it might point to why this family isn’t more sympathetic: When you refer to "unhealthy foods like bread and dairy," you reveal judginess of your own, no? Bread and dairy are not unhealthy, they’re just fine for ... people for whom they’re just fine. If you want to be left alone to your food choices, then the most productive thing you can do is leave others to their food choices, too.