Why Do People Judge What Others Eat - And Judge Me?

Written by: Shreya Manerkar – MA
(Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : May 26, 2022

Table of Contents

Why Do People Judge What Others Eat – And Judge Me?

  1. Food Shaming
  2. Learnt Behaviours and Difference in Opinions
  3. What to Do When People Judge What I Eat?
Imagine this… You are sitting with your friends at the dinner table. You order your favourite dish and someone comments, “Oh god! How can you eat that?” This makes us wonder, ”why do people judge what we eat?”. Hence when we hear comments like – “You eat so little/ so much”,” How can you finish all that?”, “If I were you, I would skip that meal”, we feel judged when we eat.

Chapter 1:
Food Shaming

At some point in our lives, we have been subjected to comments about our food habits. Food Shaming is an act of passing judgement on other people’s food choices. It has been going on for years and is often overlooked as “just a joke” or stereotypical remark. However, when we become victims of these remarks, it makes us feel isolated and singled out.

There must have been occasions where you have also passed a comment or remarked on someone’s food habit. We are all guilty of food shaming at one point in our life or another. Let us understand why.

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Chapter 2:
Learnt Behaviours and Difference in Opinions

From the time we could understand language, we have heard opinions from parents, family, friends, media and even health professionals. How each one of us has understood the meaning of these messages and applied it to our lives varies. Ultimately, we learn that we “should” and “should not” eat a particular type of food. This brings us to the next point of preference or choice.

Another possible reason why people judge your choice is a difference in preference. When “I”, don’t like what “You” like, I judge. Hence, people find it difficult to understand and accept your choice. As mentioned above, our exposure may create a strong bias in our minds. This means that they have a strong opinion for or against a certain type of food. However, when people judge our food choices, we feel that they are judging us as people.

Rigid belief in good and bad food

Closely associated with preference is the firm belief in “good” and “bad” food. This happens when we attach morals to food. Therefore, if people feel what you are eating is “wrong” or “bad”, they are most likely to judge you for it. With such an outlook, people may take a moral high ground and as a result, make snarky remarks.

Genuine Concern for Your Health

In some cases, however, there is a genuine concern for you. If so, you need to observe if you are eating something which is genuinely unhealthy or following a bad diet.

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Chapter 3:
What to Do When People Judge What I Eat?

The reasons mentioned above show us that what people think is not in our control. Therefore, when people pass such comments, it is important to remember that they are personal opinions and not aimed at you. Let us however focus on the fourth one and see how we can change our perception in such situations.

Is It a Concern or Judgement?

First and foremost, not every remark is a judgement. One simple way to recognise this is by understanding the context and tone of the comment. Sometimes, people close to us may genuinely worry about our food choices. If it is a comment out of concern, make a note of what you eat. If after understanding the eating pattern you realise that the habit is harmful, seek help to change it.

Speak to the Person

Irrespective of the tone and intent of the remark, if you are still feeling hurt, talk to the concerned person. Share your feelings with them emphasising how the comment hurt you. Be clear about them crossing a boundary.  You will also get an idea of what their intention was behind the comment. People who are genuinely concerned will be apologetic and mindful not to comment again. In such situations, communication can help get a better perspective and clear any misunderstandings.

Be Comfortable with What You Eat

If you are aware of your habits and comfortable with the choices you make, other people’s judgements will not affect you. Sometimes, people project their insecurities onto us. It is important to clearly understand the distinction between people’s perceptions and our own beliefs.

Be Prepared for Judgement

Be ready with a response in a situation where people judge what you eat. We don’t mean a negative comeback, rather a positive response which makes light of the situation. If you downplay the situation with a funny remark, people will not focus on it either.

Don’t Take Everything Seriously

People’s comments don’t need to be taken so seriously. Everyone views life differently, therefore it is natural to have a different opinion on food as well. Many of the comments that people make are personal views on the situation, and hence they are not absolutely true.

Accept yourself

People will judge no matter how much you try to change. Thus, it is important to accept yourself and the life choices you make. Not everyone will like everything you eat but that doesn’t mean you completely modify your diet. Similarly, if someone passes a judgement, you don’t need to stop enjoying the food you like. Be kind to yourself and the choices you make. Remember you have the right to decide how you want to live your life. Similarly, you have the right to adapt to a new diet or indulge in a cheat meal on special occasions.

Have a Healthy Relationship with Food

Remember, food forms an integral part of a person’s life. For many of us, food has been a constant source of comfort during tough times. Therefore, everyone’s relationship with food is different. The way we have been brought up has formed our choices, likes and dislikes. Hence, one person or a few people’s opinions should not matter. It is absolutely alright to enjoy your favourite dish or change a part of your diet.

If you want to know more about this topic, check out  https://epsychonline.com/courses/binge-eating-disorder/. You can also read this interesting article https://epsychonline.com/learn/eating-in-public-and-anxiety-when-eating-with-others/ to get more information.