Nutty nutrition: what not to say to co-workers about their eating habits

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 employés mangent ensembleWhen it comes to socializing at work, there are some subjects that are best left off the table. And sometimes, commenting on what’s on the table – the lunch table that is – is what can really get you into hot water with your colleagues. Food is personal, and whether you perceive a co-worker’s eating habits to be virtuous or flawed, pointing out the particulars of someone else’s diet could make them uncomfortable. To take things from nutty to nice at work, we’ve created a cast of frequent food offenders that will help you steer clear of drama in the lunch room.

The Health Guru

While keeping colleagues informed about their food choices may be well-intentioned, exclaiming that “Caesar salads are loaded with as much fat and calories as a cheeseburger!” as your co-worker is mid-bite is unlikely to be welcome information. If an office peer wants nutrition guidance, they have access to a Registered Dietitian. Leave the nutrition tips to the pros, and break the habit of offering up unsolicited advice in the break room.

The Not-So-Secret Admirer

“Wow, you’re so healthy!” may seem like a nice enough thing to say to an office peer, but singling out you colleague’s food choices day after day also implies that their choices are abnormal. Being repeatedly singled-out (for whatever the reason) can be embarrassing, and your colleague may not want to be pegged as the office “Health Nut”. Even when it comes to compliments, it’s all about moderation!

The Bird Watcher

If you think it might be funny to compare your vegetarian colleague’s lunch to birdfeed or rabbit food, don’t expect a prize for originality… or a laugh from your colleague for that matter. Vegetarians have heard it all before, and cracking jokes at their expense will likely leave them feeling something between mildly annoyed and decidedly disrespected.

The Myth Buster

While you may have colleagues that experiment with nutrition trends that are not necessarily scientifically proven, suggesting that your Paleo-dieting, gluten-free, smoothie-drinking colleague has fallen prey to the latest health craze may not be the best way to ingratiate yourself with your co-worker. Your attempt to demystify nutrition trends will probably just leave your colleague miffed.

The Portion Police

Whether a co-worker is big or small, comments like “Is that all you’re eating?!” or “Gosh, you must have hollow legs!” should never be part of the lunchtime lingo. Nutritional requirements vary widely from one person to another, so a suitable meal for one person may seem like a lot or a little to you. If you find yourself comparing your portion to your neighbour’s, remember to keep your eyes on your own plate!

Eating habits are as varied as individuals, so be sensitive to differences and adopt an inclusive attitude. Genuine culinary curiosity can make for interesting discussion around the lunch table, but a thinly veiled judgmental comment will just leave people feeling sour. Remember that if your colleagues need nutritional guidance, they can access support from a Registered Dietitian, so don’t take it upon yourself to offer up your nutritional expertise. If you have a hard time navigating all the eatery etiquette, keep it simple; unless the delicious smell wafting from your colleague’s plate entices you to ask for the recipe, just stick to “bon appetite!”

For more advice on how you can incorporate healthy changes into your lifestyle, contact us to speak with a Registered Dietitian today!

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