Nosy Coworkers

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Hello!  I woke up early to get some work done, and now I’m about to leave for a mid-morning workout. I find I’m most creative and alert in the morning, so I’ve always tried to do my workouts later if possible.


Had some breakfast while I toiled:


Breakfast was a fun twist on the classic PB and J sandwich.


Instead of PB, I used AB <—almond buttah!  Barney Butter brand + TJ’s strawberry jam.


And I added 1/2 a melted banana to the mix, which is KEY.  To make it, I slice a banana lengthwise and then put in on a griddle for a few minutes on each side.  So delicious.


Nosy Coworkers


I love to pose questions about how our healthy relationship with food and exercise impacts our friends, significant others, families, and coworkers.  Here’s some of my past posts on the subject:



Today’s question comes from Jul.  I wasn’t sure what kind of advice to give her (as I’ve worked from home for 3 years and my current coworkers include Maggie and James) because I know office politics can be pretty gnarly.  I bet you guys have some great suggestions on dealing with Nosy Coworkers.


Jul says:  I’d like to ask if you (or any of your readers) have any suggestions about managing attitudes about healthy lifestyles in the workplace. The woman who works in the office next to mine is very friendly and outgoing — not to mention great at her job. I like having her as a coworker. But I’m a little uncomfortable about the very active interest (for lack of a better term) she takes in my eating habits. Whenever she walks past my office and I’m eating breakfast or having a mid-afternoon snack, she always slows down, turns her head, and stares at what I’m eating. If we have lunch together with the whole office, she always eyes what I’ve packed. If our office orders out, she always seems to pay particular attention to what I order. If I order my salad dressing on the side and dip my fork in it rather than pouring it over my salad, for instance, I can feel her eyes on me. If I decide to splurge on some fries, I can see her staring at my plate. I’m confident that I’m not just imagining it (once or twice is one thing, but this really happens all the time!), and that it’s really just me and my eating habits (and not everyone else in the office). I don’t know if it’s envy that I eat pretty healthfully (and heartily)… or wistfulness… or flat-out, beyond-the-norm nosiness… or some other combination of factors. I suspect that she doesn’t have the healthiest relationship with food herself, and I can sympathize with that. I’ve been there myself, to an extent. But I don’t feel as if I know her well enough to reach out and help in some way, although I wish I could. Mostly, I just wish her relationship with food didn’t translate into an awkward preoccupation with my food habits. And I wish that it didn’t bother me so much — although maybe it just means I still have things to work through myself (but don’t we all?)


How should Jul handle her nosy coworker?  Should she say something or continue to ignore it?  Have you ever felt extremely interested in a coworkers’ eating or exercise habits?  Do you coworkers stick their nose with it doesn’t belong?



  • Camille July 9, 2010, 9:36 am

    Mmm, yummy breakfast! I like mixing it up with breakfast sandwiches! Have a great morning!

  • Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker July 9, 2010, 9:39 am

    People where I work are constantly looking at what I’m eating because they think it’s “weird” (since when is kale and a sweet potato strange, I don’t know). Basically, if I see them gawking, I usually make some kind of comment about what I’m eating. It may be a good idea just to address it head-on. Maybe she’s just interested in your eats. I think confronting her gently is a good idea. Maybe she’s trying to eat more healthfully? Or whatever. It’s tough with co-workers!!!

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans July 9, 2010, 9:43 am

    After I lost 35lbs last year many people at my office were intrigued by how I did it. For some it was just interest but others used it as a license to scrutinize what I ate. I got a lot of “You eat that!” or “Of course she’s not going to have that”. It was difficult to be under the microscope all the time. Some people went so far as to assume my weight loss and subsequent lifestyle change allowed them to talk about me and my former and current body without discretion. It was difficult for me but I realized that for every inappropriate comment I was receiving many more positive comments and words of encouragement and it allowed me to shrug off the less appealing discussions.

    • Theodora @ Losing Weight in the City July 9, 2010, 9:56 am

      YES! I lost 50 pounds last year and at my old job, where most people didn’t eat very healthily, I always felt under a microscope! While losing weight, this was actually somewhat helpful because it kept me on track – it was worth it sticking to my healthy eating habits to avoid “oh, you’re going to have that piece of cake? That’s not healthy.”

      But honestly, what helped me the most with people commenting on what I was eating is realizing that most people have a complex relationship with food, and everyone’s relationship is a little different. I also remember that before I lost weight, I would be the person that would say, “Really? Salad dressing on the side? Come on…” I realize now that I was jealous of others’ healthy eating habits because I didn’t think I could do it myself, and maybe that’s where your coworker’s coming from, Jul.

      • Robin July 9, 2010, 1:31 pm

        I’ve had the same experiences as both commenters above, and eventually had to stop participating in our monthly company lunches. I work in a small company and since we are more like family, people feel entitled to make comments like “Oh you’re so thin of course you ordered a salad”. Apparently last month in the lunch that I didn’t attend our CEO listed the people who have lost weight since coming to work for them. Not only did I think that was entirely inappropriate for the people he named, but what about the people he didn’t name? I know at least one person who he didn’t mention took it to mean that she’s gained weight.

        • caitlin July 10, 2010, 8:54 am

          Ouch! Your CEO sounds clueless. Bet HR loved that.

    • pa miller January 13, 2014, 5:09 am

      Weight thing can just be an excuse….person really doing…join a fitness club…going on with co worker got them into running, swimming…fooling around…Nosey types want to know this…ask questions….you give too much information…got worse over past 10+ years…worked from 1988-1994 private company in Toronto. paid on commission basis No time for loose talk/socializing…noise in office was not tolerated…staff segregated…
      pay cheques could be affected….If not busy, could leave earlier in the day….many working off and on outside…no lasting friendships..maybe 1-2 at the most..

  • Amanda @ Eat to Live, Live to Run July 9, 2010, 9:45 am

    I have the exact same co-workers. ALL of my co-workers pay close attention to what I eat. They’ve seen me lose 115 lbs and so they notice every little thing I put in my mouth, good or bad. They also think the things I eat are strange. They all live off of basically chicken nuggets and tacos though. Most of them don’t know how to do anything more than boil water.

    I usually bring a little extra to share a bite with the nosy ones when they say “whaaaaaats that?” But then again these people are my friends. If this woman isn’t particularly your friend I would try to avoid eating around her if possible, if not I’d try to talk to someone else or do something to keep your mind off the fact that she’s watching you.

    Hey, maybe she’ll learn something 🙂

  • Jessica @ How Sweet July 9, 2010, 9:48 am

    My co-wrokers make comments about what I eat all the time! I honestly just totally tune them out. In fact, I ignore them completely. I have found that trying to explain myself or educate them better has not worked in my situation.

  • Syl July 9, 2010, 9:52 am

    could it be that she is trying to adapt a healthy lifestyle of her own and is looking at your stuff to see what it’s all about. Maybe she is too afraid to ask for advice? I think I would confront her and just bring it up in conversation and see where it leads.

    • caitlin July 10, 2010, 8:54 am

      I think Syl might have a point…

  • Stacey @ Tipping the (Kitchen!) Scales July 9, 2010, 9:52 am

    I feel her pain!! I have a male colleague who takes great delight in making a comment (loudly)whenever I eat anything -it’s annoying! No matter when I eat during the day I get the standard comment..’oh having (breakfast/morning snack/lunch/afternoon snack/cake/chcocolate..insert whatever I have chosen to eat here!) that’s not like you.’ What so I never eat then, geez?! It’s like he is trying to make me feel bad for actually having to eat and I get the same comment whaether it’s a kiwi or a Kitkat! It drives me nuts and is the reason I tend to step away from my desk to eat or wait until he’s not around. It makes me feel really uncomfortable and I never know what to say. At the moment I just say something like ‘yeah, well I’m hungry’ and then direct the conversation in another direction but it is weird. I would never comment on a colleagues eating habits -or anyone’s for that matter, it’s rude and intrusive.

    Sorry that didn’t actually add anything to the discussion but I guess I just needed to vent!!

    • Marie July 9, 2010, 10:53 am

      Wow glad you vented! That sounds awful! If I were you I’d gather up my gumption and confront him– tell him you don’t understand why he feels the need to comment on everything you eat, and that it makes you feel incredibly uncomfortable and harassed. Harassment, indeed! Ugh! If you can’t say all that to him, just tell him you wish he would stop commenting on your food.

    • Maja July 9, 2010, 10:55 am

      I haven’t commented before but I can really relate to this issue. At my office I have a similar situation. A male colleague who, like Stacey’s, always makes very inappropriate comments about what I am eating and the amount I am eating. And I eat healthy and always bring food from home. But even if I am having fries, what right does he have to do that?! He also makes comments to me and other female colleagues about who has gained weight etc. I got really annoyed at first, but I decided to pretend he does not exist when he makes those comments. I completely ignore him and I do not let it bother me. I really do just pretend like I am alone. He evetually gives up. I just think, God help his wife if he talks to her like that.

      About Jul’s situation, I would offer some food to the colleague, but if she declines I would just ignore her. Just focus on the benefits you are getting from the way you eat and the happiness it brings you and shut the negative looks and distructions out. Don’t let anyone make you feel uneasy about something you know is right and good for you.

    • Catherine July 9, 2010, 3:56 pm

      Man, work environments are so tough! We spend so much time with our co-workers! I’m sorry your work environment is being made annoying/difficult by this guy. He sounds like a jerk 🙁

    • Nicole July 9, 2010, 5:28 pm

      My last boss was like that! Any time I had food at my desk, he was always eyeballing it and making a comment. Usually it was healthy food, but one morning I had chocolate chip pancakes and he felt the urge to announce it to the world.

    • elaine! July 26, 2010, 4:14 pm

      LOL… that sounds like something my boyfriend would do to get a rise out of me. Are you sure this male coworker of yours doesn’t like you? Because either he’s fond of teasing you or he’s a douchebag.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday July 9, 2010, 9:53 am

    If you see her looking and she doesn’t say anything, then OFFER HER SOME!
    It will let her know that you’re aware that she’s eyeing your food. It will break the ice and you can get into a whole conversation about your eating habits.
    …Maybe you’ll learn a thing or two about her eating habits and you can provide her some gentle advice.

    • M July 9, 2010, 10:03 am

      I think that is am excellent idea!

    • Kelly July 9, 2010, 10:05 am

      This is what I was going to suggest!

    • Kimberly July 9, 2010, 10:06 am

      That’s what I was going to say. A simple, “Want a bite?” might a) alert her that she’s staring, which she may not realize she’s doing, and b) let her know that you’ve noticed, which might embarrass her into stopping or help her start a converstation with you about your food choices.

    • Nicole July 9, 2010, 10:24 am

      I think this is a really great idea! If nothing else, it will make the co-worker aware that you notice her staring.

    • Marie July 9, 2010, 10:54 am

      Also agreed!

    • Michelle July 9, 2010, 3:02 pm

      I really love this idea. I like that you’re taking a positive approach to a weird situation. Maybe she’s just really interested and insecure about her food relationship. You’ll probably really help her out and form a closer bond! Good luck!! I know whenever I’m nosy at work it’s just because I’m so interested and slighly jealous (if I’m being completely honest!)

  • erin July 9, 2010, 9:55 am

    i have a coworker that says – ohh that’s right you don’t eat junky food. and i’m like I’ll indulge every now and then, but it’s irritating. or another one will say, oooh you’re drinking sprite! when i usually drink water all the time. it’s annoying. but then again, i admit i do pass judgment on my coworkers who EAT OUT EVERY SINGLE DAY and then they complain that they are overweight. uhm then don’t eat out every day. and move your body.

    • Pearson Smith July 15, 2010, 6:08 pm

      It is the most frustrating thing. All you want to do is enjoy your meal in peace and quiet and people have to ask… what you are eating and the have a need to watch you while you eat it. Some people will also see me reading food blogs and will make comments about how weird it is or how I should try eating some food. I don’t pay attention to their eating habits.. why do they have to care about mine. Or am I just super aware and get annoyed easily?

  • Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) July 9, 2010, 9:57 am

    My coworkers sound like the same as many of your all’s. There is one other girl in the office who eats very similar to me, in fact we share lunches a lot. But our other coworkers are CONSTANTLY talking about what we are eating. You know, because we eat hummus and grains and greens – they think our food is from another planet! We usually talk about how good it is and offer to let other people sample what we are eating. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t but they are usually pretty surprised.

  • Jes July 9, 2010, 9:58 am

    I agree with Samantha (#9)… Since she doesnt comment when she looks, i dont think it is a bad thing… I think she probably wants to figure out what you are eatting, how you are eatting it so she can replicate your actions/choices without flat out asking you about it… I agree with the “offer her some” approach… Either she will say yes and dive into questions or say No and most likely continue to stare at your eats all the time because that’s how some people are! Good luck! =)

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat July 9, 2010, 9:59 am

    I think she is in awe of your healthy habits and wishes she could do them for herself. Perhaps if she stares long enough, she will 😉 Unless it makes you really uncomfortable, I would just keep doing what you are doing with a smile on your face because you are healthy and proud of it 🙂

  • Ashley July 9, 2010, 10:05 am

    It seems like the co-worker is looking to Jul. as an example for herself and maybe how she would like to eat. I would ask the co-worker if she would like to try some of your food or start a conversation by asking if she has ever had whatever I you be eating. That way the co-worker will realize that you are aware of her interest in your food and hopefully she will be more conscience about staring.

    • Ashley July 9, 2010, 10:07 am

      oops, sorry for the typos. I meant to say whatever you may be eating….

  • Becky July 9, 2010, 10:07 am

    I also have this problem. My boss will come by my desk and say “oh eating rabbit food again?” Or he’ll come around sharing some food with the team and come into my cube and say “Oh Nevermind..thats right you don’t eat this” The comments get annoying and I don’t understand why its such a big deal. I just try to shrug it off and chuckle and keep in mind that I know so much more about nutrition and healthy eating and feel good knowing I’m eating the right things.

    • Catherine July 9, 2010, 3:58 pm

      I hate when people try to make fun of your healthier food to somehow make themselves feel better about what they eat. It shouldn’t be a contest. One of my co-workers eats Del Taco twice a day, and it grosses me out, but I would never say anything to him about it. It’s his body! (although it does make the office stink 🙁

  • sarah July 9, 2010, 10:12 am

    Smile. Nod. Collect paycheck. Go home.

    • Deanna July 9, 2010, 3:05 pm

      I like this suggestion!

      Also, I agree with some of the other commenters — people who don’t eat healthily think certain healthy habits are “weird” and they probably think in the back of their minds they’ll never be able to eat like you, etc. I think it’s a jealousy and fascination thing. What they should now is they CAN! 🙂

  • Kiersten July 9, 2010, 10:15 am

    I would say something to the co-worker. Maybe she is genuinely interested in how you eat. Maybe she wants to adapt a healthier lifestyle. Maybe she has an unhealthy relationship with food. Regardless of the reason it’s just RUDE to do that to someone whenever they are eating. If it’s bothering you Jul I would just come out and say something the next time your co-worker does this to you.

  • Jen July 9, 2010, 10:15 am

    I’ve had coworkers who were interested in my eating habits, and it was generally because they were unsure about how to approach healthy eating themselves.

    It sounds to me like Jul’s coworker is curious and doesn’t know how to address that curiosity. If it were me, I would mention – privately, if possible – that I had noticed her taking an interest in my eats and ask her if she had any questions. Otherwise, things will continue to be uncomfortable, and nobody should have to feel uncomfortable about their eating habits, especially at work!

  • Mellissa July 9, 2010, 10:15 am

    I have dealt with this and I usually just say I enjoy my food and do not make negative comments about yours. That has usually stopped it!

    It is usually the people who have a bad relationship with food or exercise that criticize those who eat well/

  • Lindsay July 9, 2010, 10:16 am

    This is such an interesting topic!

    Luckily for me, I work in a pretty healthy office. However, I do still get plenty of comments about the more unusual items in my lunch box (i.e. nori rolls, tofu, etc.). I used to be quite sensitive about it, but I’ve come to find that their inquiries stem from genuine interest or curiosity, not judgment.

    I agree with others in that an easy way to address the situation is to simply ask “would you like some?” or “do you like X food too?” It should start a conversation and give you a chance to address any questions she might have. Just be sure to take her questions at face value. Most often a “what is that?” just means literally… “what is that?”, not “why are you eating that???” or “you’re weird.”

    One thing I do still struggle with is when my family members notice and comment on my occasional indulgences. I really don’t have a sweet tooth, so on the rare chance that I enjoy dessert at a family gathering, I catch my father nodding at me in approval. I’m not sure if he even realizes he does this, but I admit it’s a little uncomfortable.

  • AngelaOSG July 9, 2010, 10:17 am

    One of my coworkers used to do this to me all the time and it drove me INSANE!!! It is such an awkward situation and unfortunately I did not deal with it in a proactive manner, so I don’t really have any suggestions. I remember it making me hyper focused on my eating (which was something I was struggling to get away from and beat). If I had been more assertive I would have spoken with the coworker about it…but man that is really hard!

  • Sarah July 9, 2010, 10:17 am

    I would offer her some of my food. I do this with my boss because she’s a heavy meat eater, but extremely curious about veg foods. Whenever I have tofu or tempeh or something she doesn’t eat, I try and offer her a bite. I think that can be a good conversation starter. Once I offered a bite to her for the first time, she was a lot less afraid to just come out and ask me in subsequent times.

  • Marilou @ Mostly Healthy July 9, 2010, 10:18 am

    I understand completely how you feel. I’ve lost 115 lbs in the last years (but not all since I’ve worked where I am now). One of my work friend is very very overweight, but also very in denial. She’s always the first one to comment on my food, and on how I’m “missing” on things.

    And if we go out and I splurge on something she will always have a nasty comment to say on this. But it’s ok. I know it’s only because she’d probably like to change her own healthy habbits and I’d like to think that she’s “modeling” my food and maybe trying it at home?

    Or she’s just noisy and nasty … some people are 🙂

    I love the comment that said to offer her a bite. I take pride in my food now instead of feeling annoyed like before. I try all sorts of things and when I look at my lunch box filled with new veggies, awesome recipes leftovers etc.. and compare it to granola bar, ham sandwiches and cold pizza … let me say: I know that I’m the happiest girl around 🙂

  • Liz July 9, 2010, 10:23 am

    Okay, so I don’t usually comment but I can actually 100% sympathize with your office dilemma. The women at my office always make fun of my eating habits, one woman bakes for everyones birthday and on my birthday asked if I would just prefer a plate of vegetables (no, its my birthday, I would like the same cake as everyone else thank you very much!) But here’s the thing I always think when I see them judging me or telling me I’m too skinny and need to eat a cupcake, them saying that to me is exactly the same as telling someone you are too heavy you should eat some vegetables, our society has just spun it so that being told you are too skinny is a compliment, its not. Its still a criticism of how someone lives their life. And I feel better about myself knowing that I do not need to criticize anyone else’s decisions during the day. I would never dream of saying something like that to ANYONE, and I just have to remind myself of all of those things everytime I am criticized. I doubt this is a solution, but it works for me!

    • caitlin July 10, 2010, 8:55 am

      Cannot believe that birthday cake incident. LOL!

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) July 9, 2010, 10:23 am

    I think she’s just being naturally curious. I would just keep ignoring her, though I also like the suggestion to offer her a bite or two.

  • Rebecca July 9, 2010, 10:24 am

    If it were me, I’d try to strike up a conversation with her. Or, maybe stare at what she’s eating? (JK) She’s probably just interested in how Jul eats, but just doesn’t know how to bring it up. It seems a bit weird, and I guess it comes off as nosy, but maybe she doesn’t realize what she’s doing. If someone is staring at me when I’m eating something weird or taking a photo of my plate in public, I usually smile and explain myself. I don’t feel weird about it. People are just curious, especially when it comes to food. She’s probably intrigued by Jul’s eating habits, but shy and wants advice.

  • Wei-Wei July 9, 2010, 10:24 am

    The next time she’s closer to you and you spot her eyeing your food, strike up some conversation or make a comment on it. Maybe even offer her some, or offer to eat together; you might break the ice and make a friend. Develop a relationship with her, and maybe eventually she’ll tell you what’s going on. It’d be evident if she had an unhealthy relationship with food as you go down the line; does she seem jealous that you’re “able” to eat food? Does she seem smug or envious when she sees you splurge? Or eat healthy, for that matter? I don’t think she’s nosy, because having an eating disorder in the past I know how preoccupied with food one can get when you do start to have an eating disorder.

    When I first started to eat lunch again, I ate with my peers (I wouldn’t really call them my friends) at school. I ate salad everyday because I was so concerned about calories, and all of them would be eating from the pasta/pizza, grill, or sandwich station. Once as I parted with a group of them in the hallway, I came back around to get something and overheard this: “…and she eats salad EVERYday.” Gosh. I was so embarrassed, and I often get to-my-face comments on “How do you eat so healthy all the time?!”


  • Stephanie July 9, 2010, 10:25 am

    I wonder if she’s having “Lunch Envy”? If she’s staring for a long time, I second the “hey, do you want to try some? It’s really good!” But, if she isn’t openly criticizing or making faces at your choices, I’d chalk it up to being jealous that you’re eating something that looks DELICIOUS! =)

  • Fueling for Fitness July 9, 2010, 10:26 am

    When I started my food blog, I shared it with my coworkers because they were always asking me for recipes to the things I ate. But like a normal human being, I like to indulge every now and then – and I found that because I was almost posting everything I ate on my blog for a while, they started scrutinizing my food on a daily basis. When we’d have pizza lunches, they’d stop by and say “THAT’D BETTER BE ON YOUR BLOG!” and many would walk by and say things like “sooooo healthy” or “no, Alison won’t want anything off the snack cart – she’s watching her weight/calories”. (when in fact, I DID want something off the snack cart)

    It really affected me for a while, until I realized that at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. I see what they eat and I am not envious at all. Everybody’s body/appetite is different, and not everybody is going to be the same.

    Either you can just address it head on and look straight at her and say “what’s up?” when she walks by your desk staring at your food, or you can just let it be and do what Sarah @ #16 said. 🙂

    Just be confident that you are eating the best foods for yourself and if that works for you, then it really doesn’t matter what other people think or say. Eventually, they’ll get tired of focusing on you and move onto something else.


  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope July 9, 2010, 10:28 am

    I have similar issues with some coworkers. One in particular, always feels the need to announce to whoever we’re eating with that i am a vegetarian. Seeing as I have not been vegetarian quite long (and I don’t even remember telling her??), it makes me really uncomfortable because then everyone is watching what I eat. And it is no one’s business what I eat, and I do not like to go around labeling myself for the entire world.
    I can never eat lunch without someone asking about what I am eating and mentioning the word, “healthy.” I always say I don’t just eat healthy, I just eat real food.
    I don’t have much advice for the poster, but I am sure everyone else will. I just wanted to offer my story to show that you’re not alone. I think some people just feel threatened if you appear to be eating healthy, and they are not.

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels July 9, 2010, 10:29 am

    yup I totally have the same . . . I agree with the other comments in offering her some

    and if that doesn’t stop it, or open a friendly conversation then just ignore it

    I take on these approaches to my diet – if someone asks, then I’m happy to share some info about healthy eating with them, if not, I keep my mouth shut . . . cause I hate when people try to lecture me about say, why I should eat meat.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) July 9, 2010, 10:30 am

    it’s funny you say this…i don’t have this with my eating habits, but with my work habits. like if i am formatting something one way the guy behind me (why is he staring into my cubicle anyways???!?!?!) always has to tell me how it’s wrong and how to do it. kills me!

    i just ignore him most of the time, but i think if it’s something that’s really starting to affect her she should approach it in a gentle manner with this person. if she’s going to be there for a while working then it needs to be addressed!

  • danielle July 9, 2010, 10:32 am

    Since the coworker is so friendly, I would ask the her about her own food! Obviously she’s interested in what Jul is eating, and maybe she’s just too shy to open up a dialogue or doesn’t want to be awkward about it. At least for me, the staring would annoy me, but I wouldn’t mind having a discussion about my food choices. Maybe if Jul opened with “Hey coworker, that salad looks so good! I would never have thought to include {ingredient}” or something like that, the coworker would feel better asking Jul about her food too. That way Jul could impart some wisdom without feeling like she’s getting too up in the coworker’s business.

  • Jo July 9, 2010, 10:32 am

    I wouldn’t let it bother you too much. If she is obsessing over what you eat, it is a reflection on her issues. She probably really wants to take a hard look at herself but can’t.

  • Erin July 9, 2010, 10:33 am

    I’ve been lucky that most of my coworkers just comment that my lunch “smells good” and have never said anything negative. However, I’ll never forget the (overweight) woman who saw me eating carrot sticks and said “Look at her! She’s already so skinny and she’s still eating carrot sticks!” As she chomped on a Snicker’s bar. I had no idea what to say to that.

    I like the suggestion to offer her a bite. Or next time she’s staring say something like “It’s really good. Would you like the recipe?” She’s probably spent her whole life eating from a limited assortment of foods and is curious about what someone who she might secretly respect eats.

  • KatieTX July 9, 2010, 10:33 am

    The book Intuitive Eating covers this to some degree. It seems as if you, an intuitive eater, will eat healthily but at times have fries or cake, great. Some people just cannot grasp how you can be healthy/have lost weight but still eat this wide range of food. The book goes on to tell you how to deal with people who try to squash your intuitive eating habits, i.e. “rabbit food” comments or making a comment if you eat some that they wonder consider unhealthy. I would suggest picking up a copy or reading through that section at the bookstore. It is really a great book and think it would help Jul know how to deal with these types of people that pop up in her life who make the many different comments on food choices.

    • Christina July 9, 2010, 2:08 pm

      I’m only 1/3 of the way through that book and haven’t gotten to that chapter yet, but I’m in love with the book already. Great suggestion.

  • Jill July 9, 2010, 10:35 am

    To Jul who wrote in: I’m sure others have suggested this, but why not start a conversation with the coworker about food? Say, “Mary, I notice you seem to be interested in what I’m eating everyday. My food choices are really important to me. What kinds of things do you bring for your lunch?” That might be a way to open her up to talking about why she looks at your food. Either that or she’ll feel “called out” and maybe leave you alone.

  • LB July 9, 2010, 10:40 am

    Jul, I would venture to guess that your coworker is a lot like me 🙂 I don’t have a healthy relationship with food (working on it), but I read these blogs all the time because I admire the girls’ habits and want to learn as much about making healthy choices as I can since the concept is still new to me. They encourage me and inspire me, and I know that one day I will make the decision to change my life, take the plunge, and I will be all the more educated for it.

    I would take her nosiness with a grain of salt and realize that she probably just admires your discipline and maybe needs some encouragement to begin making those healthy choices herself.

    If you just can’t take it anymore, I would advise you to be careful, because usually people who are that “curious” about healthy habits (or anything, for that matter) might become just as enthusiastically turned off to it if you don’t express yourself in a gentle way. For me, food is a huge battle, and I ask those kinds of questions because I am thisclose to changing my life, as well.

    Good luck 🙂

  • Tina July 9, 2010, 10:41 am

    I would draw attention to her fascination by responding with what I’m eating. “Oh–it’s only a turkey sandwich” is enough to get to her realize that she’s staring down your food.

  • Samantha July 9, 2010, 10:49 am

    While it may be annoying when co-workers and others are overly interested in your food; consider this perspective–for some reason, a larger percentage of people are totally fascinated and interested in food and particularly what other people eat. Caitlin’s blog, and other food blogs out there draw in hundreds and even thousands of readers each month to check in what the blogger ate. The comments that get left are largely positive–but its the same thing that the co-workers are doing, but on a blog there is a different level of discretion for the reader or “observer”.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) July 9, 2010, 10:49 am

    When I first started eating healthy people were really interested in my food and what I ordered because it was so different from what I had been eating. I just told them what I was eating. If they looked at me funny I told them why I was eating it. Having information seemed to stop the stares and it just became normal.

    Perhaps her co-worker wants a healthy relationship with food and doesn’t know how to ask about your eating habits. Sharing up front instead of waiting for her to ask might ease the situation for both of you. And you might make a friend that way.

  • Marci July 9, 2010, 10:51 am

    Agree with above to offer her some, or make something for the whole office to put in the kitchen, or keep at your desk and email friends that you have a treat for them. If you blog, can you give her the web address so she can read about your eats without bothering you? She’s just admiring your choices and doesn’t know how to do it herself! Take it as flattery.

  • Sami July 9, 2010, 10:52 am

    I know how you feel, Jul! I can see both sides though if she is just trying to replicate what you’re doing…it only bothers me when co-workers MOCK my eating habits. Like when someone brings in donuts and politely ask me if I’d like one…we have a lady in my office that will ABRUBTLY make a scene and be like “YEAH right, Sami doesn’t eat that”. Before I even get a chance to kindly reply with a “no thank you”. She’s very rude about it and makes me feel very uncomfortable, yet she stares down my food all the time…

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape July 9, 2010, 10:55 am

    Jul, if you have a feeling that this woman does not have a positive relationship with food then take her interest in your eating habits as a compliment. She probably sees your healthy eating, your occasional splurges, and wishes that she could do the same. Don’t be put off by her behavior. Your eating habits are probably just something that she hopes one day she can emulate.

  • Lizzie July 9, 2010, 10:57 am

    My co-workers make fun of what I eat all the time, saying it is too healthy. I just go with the flow and say “my body doesn’t work as well if I eat the junk your guys throw down. I guess you are just lucky” But I think we all know I would rather eat my salad then their frozen meals! Also when I do “splurge” I totally get comments. Oh well. I am happy with my choices.

  • Maria @ Oh Healthy Day (Formally A La Mode) July 9, 2010, 10:59 am

    I agree, I think she may have some food hangups herself, but this is a great opportunity to educate her! If you see her eying your food, simply say “Oh, you should try some of this – its really yummy and healthy too!”. It’ll get the conversation started about your food choices. She may just be too shy to admit that she’s curious.

    I have a few lurkers in my office, but for the most part, everyone knows that I’m a healthy eater. When I make my huge salad for lunch everyday, they always ask if I’m on a diet, which gets old, but I just reply that I’m eating healthy. I try to talk about my healthy relationship with food and share some recipes that I make at home.

  • Alyssa July 9, 2010, 11:03 am

    I think she does have some issues with food and that maybe she looks at your food all the time to see what healthy eating is.

    I would try an experiment: One day, pack a little extra of a snack or part of your lunch and when she stops by and you can tell she is looking at you, ask her if she wants to try some. Maybe that will prompt her to stop staring so much since by offering her a taste lets her know that you know she’s watching you.

  • Sarah for Real July 9, 2010, 11:05 am

    At least her coworker isn’t making comments. Maybe her coworker eyes everyone’s food, not just hers. Many of these other commenters have more difficult situations to handle.

    I think she should just ignore it and stop being so sensitive. Maybe I’m being INsensitive but this sounds to me like the childish, “she’s looking at me!” game. She should consider herself a positive example and just move on.

    I think with work issues, if it’s not something you can address with the boss or HR rep, you should let it go.

    • Sarah for Real July 9, 2010, 11:29 am

      Hmm I just re-read that and I sound like a cranky-pants. She could certainly take some of these other tips like #39 and say, “it’s only a turkey sandwich.” Office personalities are complicated and I suspect she hasn’t said anything to this coworker because she doesn’t want to have a big confrontation. That’s what HR is for, so if it really bothers you, make an appointment to speak with them.

      Sorry for being a cranky-pants 😀

      • Marie July 9, 2010, 11:55 am

        I actually agreed with your first statement. It seems like too big of a wrooy over nothing. I would just ignore it.

        I would also like to interject with the possibility that some (not all, but maybe some) of these office instances are about coworkers who think that these girls might have a “problem” (*ie, not eating enough or never indulging ever) with food and are checking up on them. I am not saying eating healthy is not good in the office, but if you never partake in office activities like lunch or cake, or if you eat like a bird you may be drawing the attention to yourself a bit and people might be concerned.

        Just my $.02

        • Sarah for Real July 9, 2010, 12:00 pm

          I still stand up for my first comment in that she should just let it go, it’s just that my delivery sucked, haha. Note to self, no commenting before coffee!

          I agree about the possibility of drawing attention to oneself. There could be a lot of factors that we don’t know about. Maybe even some that she isn’t aware of.

          I used to have a friend that ate like a squirrel… literally a little nibbling action with two hands. It was very odd and I often found myself staring while she ate, hahaha.

  • Tina July 9, 2010, 11:05 am

    I would bet that she admires the way Jul eats and is trying to figure out some tips and guidelines. It’s hard to ask for help about such a topic. That is really what this scenario seems like to me.

    I would try to fit something about it into conversation instead of just ignoring it. It doesn’t have to be in the form of “Hey, I notice you’re always checking out my food” but maybe sharing time at lunch together one day and casually saying she loves X food because it helps her feel strong and healthy or another similar statement. It is tricky, but I would find a way to acknowledge it so she doesn’t have to be uncomfortable all the time.

  • Raya @ Raya Runs July 9, 2010, 11:06 am

    I love this question! I work for a small company, about 25-30 employees or so in a small building. I’ve worked here for 2+ years, and by now everyone is used to my eating habits. They are used to the smell of kale, or broccoli, or leftover salmon even though I know it stinks up the place (ha). One co-worker of mine (who I rarely see eat, and when she does it’s just slim-fast and M&M’s) told me that she thinks I have the best eating habits of anyone she knows. I’m pretty sure this is only because I generally don’t eat the cookies/cupcakes/candy that are always prevalent in our breakroom. And in my head I thought “You should read some of the blogs I read! Those girls eat way better than me!” but I just smiled and said thank you.

    People are often interested in what I’m eating, but I take it as a chance to educate them about new and different/healthy options. For example, a few of my co-workers have tried putting spinach in their smoothies, or tried eating different vegetables that they’ve seen me eat.

    I think a lot of people don’t really know what is “healthy” versus what is not. It can be very confusing if you don’t spend time doing a bit of research into different foods and learning about fats/proteins/carbs/etc…For example, I am honestly surprised sometimes when people don’t know that rice or potatoes are considered carbs because to me, that is second nature by now. But then I have to remember, I’ve been curious about food and health for most of my life. Plus, while some people (myself included) consider “healthy” foods to be: high in nutrients, preservative-free, as close to its natural state as possible/not processed. But for other people, healthy simply means “fat-free” or low in calories, or “sugar-free” regardless of what’s in it.

    I say to each their own, as you mentioned yesterday in your ethical/informed eating post, eating is a very personal thing. My advice for Jul is to just educate this co-worker about what she’s eating. Explain the health benefits, or offer to give her the recipe. Maybe even casually mention that she always seems interested in her food and offer to let her try some. Explain why she dips her fork in the dressing instead of pouring it on the salad (For example, I do it because it saves calories and tastes the same). I honestly think she is just curious and probably wants to learn more about healthier options, especially if her own relationship with food is not great. Take the opportunity to pass on some of your knowledge because it might help her tremendously. However, if it becomes really bothersome and you don’t want to share/educate her, just make a joke like “you’re always eyeing my food, maybe next time I should bring in an extra portion for you,” then laugh. After a few times, she will get the joke.

    • caitlin July 10, 2010, 8:56 am

      Good comment 🙂

  • OurDogBuffy July 9, 2010, 11:09 am

    Maybe she wants to eat more like you! Perhaps it’s flattery? I know that can be super annoying. I have co-workers that can be like that … “You don’t like that? How can you not like that?” “You don’t eat beef? You don’t eat fish?” Heaven forbid. Anyway, I do have one co-worker who is super supportive and we eat similarly which is really nice. We’re both trying to lose weight and we support each other–we go food shopping together and share recipes and new food finds! It’s great fun. But those co-workers who don’t understand … not good. I had a couple co-workers I eat lunch w/ often, go out for sushi and not invite me, assuming I don’t eat it. I like veggie rolls! Oh well. Good luck! Co-worker relationships are difficult enough as is, w/o having someone stare your food down. Maybe tell her what you are eating, that it is good, etc. start a convo and maybe she’ll tell you why she stares it down “I admire your food, eating habits …” “I’m trying to lose weight and am not sure how …” something like that! Luckily you have offices! We have cubicals!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman July 9, 2010, 11:10 am

    Well that’s annoying. I think I’d make a comment about it. At my desk, if she was eying my food I’d say, “Want some?” At a group lunch, I’d make a joke, “Yeah, hate the dressing on the lettuce” or “I know, doesn’t it look good?” That way she’d have to acknowledge why she’s oggling your food. If she says, “Oh well you’re so fanatical about your food” then you can say “Well, I like to eat healthy, this is just how I eat.” And if she says, “I wish I were more like you,” that opens the door for you to give tips on eating healthy.

    Good luck!

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing July 9, 2010, 11:10 am

    I work with a lot of girls my own age and I have noticed that there can be a lot of comparing and evaluating other co-workers eating habits. The main thing is I feel good about my choices, so I really don’t mind how I look to everyone else!

  • Anya @ Fitness & Sunshine July 9, 2010, 11:11 am

    I definitely eat very differently from most people at my work, but I’ve learned to ignore the fact that they lurk sometimes. 🙂 All that matters to me is that I’m happy with my lunch/snacks.

    However, this coworker sounds particularly silly. 🙂 If that happened to me (and this is just how I am), I would honestly ask “why are you so curious about what I eat? You always seem to look at my food.” Maybe she would explain why she does it or reveal that as you suspect, her relationship with food isn’t the healthiest. I understand that there are people who love food (myself included) and love to see what kinds of foods are out and about anywhere and everywhere, but this lady sounds like a lil’ too much.

  • Run Sarah July 9, 2010, 11:15 am

    My peers sometimes make comments as well and I always answer politely – I probably wouldn’t outright say anything, because it may embarrass the coworker for looking, etc. But if he/she asked for help, advice, etc, I’d love to answer!

  • Poppy@ From Fried Chicken to Tofu July 9, 2010, 11:15 am

    I think she’s watching you because she’s intrigues by your eating style. If she doesn’t have a healthy relationship with food herself, she may be taking a look at what other people around her are doing. Try to encourage her. Maybe you can innocently bring up food in a conversation, and see where it goes. I love that she see’s you eating yummy healthy food, and also see’s you splurging every now and then. Way to go!

  • Sara July 9, 2010, 11:18 am

    I’m in my early 20s. I was once eating an Activia yogurt in my office when a co-worker walked by and said, “you’re eating poop yogurt?! You’re too young for that!”

    I was so shocked/ bewildered I nearly spat out my yogurt! Since I’m a journalist, I told him, “I like to make all my deadlines.” Ha.

    • caitlin July 10, 2010, 8:56 am

      hahah poop yogurt.

  • Stacey@ July 9, 2010, 11:19 am

    I never think to make a sandwich for breakfast but they always look so good.

  • JavaChick July 9, 2010, 11:21 am

    I’ve found that coworkers are always interested in what I’m eating for lunch, for various reasons. Some because I bring ‘different’ food, some because they see me as someone who eats ‘healthy’ food. I’m not bothered by it, but at the same time no one has ever come across as critical or insulting, just curious.

    That is a bit different, though, from having someone stare at you while you eat. I’d agree, it’s probably curiosity and may be it would be a good idea to try and start a conversation about it. In a friendly way. 🙂

  • Amanda (modernation) July 9, 2010, 11:24 am

    I used to feel really self conscious about my healthy eating habits when I first started working in an office. When people aren’t confident in their choices, they pick on yours. I would say it is just that she is really interested and envious in a way. After awhile, coworkers started asking me for advice on healthy eating and then it was something I was proud of instead of self conscious about.

  • Nekeisha July 9, 2010, 11:29 am

    This is what I deal with. I am pretty skinny but I eat all the time or appear to be as far as my co-workers are concerned. I pretty much ignore it but that is not always easy. I bring don’t buy and am always munching on fruit or nuts or chips. Everything I put in my mouth is not uber-healthy but I maintain my weight. Offer some, eating cherries or nuts offer a few. Tell them where you got it. Alot of people are always asking where I get such great snacks (I like variety so am always on the look out for something new). I am a committed junk food addict and make no appologies for it, I have realised that people have learned just from watching me. Having a convo with some at lunch a few weeks ago the comment was made that the reason I maintain my weight is that I eat proportionately throughout the day and I cover a variety. So maybe she is taking note and trying to learn.

  • Deirdre July 9, 2010, 11:37 am

    I feel like there are a lot of things at work here. One, we often project our problems or insecurites onto other people. She might be obsessed with how her food choices are viewed so instead of just being obsessed with her own insecurites she has chosen to obsess over your choices. Next, if she doesn’t make healthy choices herself or has a problem with food there is obviously a part of her that wants to change that. She sees you as someone who has a healthier relationship with food and wants to emulate that. Sadly, she is chosing a creepy way to do that. Finally, if she views healthy eating as an all or nothing process and not a matter of balance I feel like she might be confused when she sees you eat something less than healthy. She has programed herself into thinking she has to eat healthy all the time and doesn’t understand that it is okay to splurge. If you are close enough with her, I might try to start a conversation with her about food. I am lucky that my co-workers do not judge me for my food choices. I do get frustrated because they are constantly saying that they are going on a diet, but then choose to eat Chinese takeout constantly for lunch. I’ve lost 25 pounds and I need to lose more but I am a firm believer in depriving yourself anything will just make you miserable and cause you to binge eat those banned foods later. For co-workers and everyone in your life all you can do is try you best and hope you set a good example.

  • Erica July 9, 2010, 11:37 am

    People make a lot of comments about my eating habits, my weight, my high level of activity, all the time. Does the coworker ask questions about the types of food that Jul is eating, or does she just gawk? Maybe she’s trying to learn from her what a healthy relationship with food is. Maybe it’s time for Jul to make a comment about it, like when she checks out her food, be like, “It’s just some almonds, do you want some?” or something.

  • erica July 9, 2010, 11:44 am

    yeah, if she’s only looking, there isn’t much you can say…. i love to look at what people are eating. and look a what we are all doing this morning-reading a food blog that details every crumb that goes into someone’s mouth

  • erica July 9, 2010, 11:45 am

    yeah, if she’s only looking, there isn’t much you can say…. i love to look at what people are eating. and look a what we are all doing this morning-reading a food blog that details every crumb that goes into someone’s mouth

  • Olivia July 9, 2010, 11:45 am

    I saw your tweet about doing a follow up post about birth control. I would love to see that!

    • caitlin July 10, 2010, 8:56 am

      I need to!!

  • Melissa @ For the Love of Health July 9, 2010, 11:46 am

    I think we have all been there! This is really a sticky situation because who knows what the coworker’s reaction will be if she says something. I guess she would have a better idea. Her annoyance with the situation will unfortunately not go away until she says something because it’s not easy to just ignore something that happens so often. Her best bet is to sit down and talk to her but do it in a casual way and without a confrontational tone. It’s a toughy and I hope she can work it out!

  • Natalie July 9, 2010, 11:49 am

    I would definitely say something. It will continue to drive you batty if you don’t!
    Maybe when she’s walking by staring at the food, you can just say hello to her and say I noticed you were looking at my __________…have you ever tried it before? Hopefully then she will know that you notice her staring and it will break the awkwardness and she’ll feel like there’s an open door to talk to you about food : )

  • Alina July 9, 2010, 11:52 am

    I know what you mean! Some people are WAY to involved in other people’s food. I dance, bike, and run a lot, so after, I’m usually hungry, and eat healthy food, but eat a moderate amount, and am still pretty thin. I’m still in school, but some other girls I sit with at lunch ALWAYS eye my food. Finally, I just offered them some, and they stopped! I think they were more intrested in my delecious homemade lunches then my eating habits! Why don’t you try offering your co-worker some of your food if you feel like sharing, or just come out and ask her why she’s checking out your food . . . Does she want to try some?

  • Karen July 9, 2010, 11:56 am

    I don’t know what I’d say about the coworker–I’d probably keep my mouth shut, unless she decided to speak up about her fixation.

    One thing that happens to me ALL THE TIME is people who decide to make a face and vocalize their disgust for something I’m eating. I’ve been a vegetarian for 18 years, and some of my favorite foods are Indian and Thai dishes. I know that saag paneer isn’t the prettiest dish in the world, but it’s not gross–and besides, what freaking business is it of theirs what I’m eating? I just think it’s so incredibly rude to go “ewwww” when someone is eating. I’ve always wanted to say something, but I usually end up giving them the stink eye and ignoring them.

    • LC @ Let Them Eat Lentils July 9, 2010, 12:49 pm

      When that happens, I have a new phrase, “Don’t yuck my yum.” My friends mother is a preschool teacher and she tells it to her kids all the time. “We don’t make fun of what other kids are eating. You never yuck someone else’s yum.”

      • emily July 9, 2010, 1:07 pm

        Oh my god, I love that! My husband is going to hate you now because I’m pretty sure that’s my new catchphrase! 😀

      • Christina July 9, 2010, 2:40 pm

        LOVE that!

      • caitlin July 10, 2010, 8:57 am

        Love don’t yuck my yum!

    • elaine! July 26, 2010, 4:27 pm

      Saag paneer sounds delicious! I worked in an office where my coworkers would bring in chicken feet. (A third of the office was from Hong Kong, a third from the Phillipines, and a third were American.) They always offered to share, too. People need to broaden their horizons.

      Also, the one person that got the most flak for their eating habits in our office was the sole vegan. Maybe it’s because he didn’t have a lot of backup, lol. A manager (who had been friends with him for years prior to working with him) actually gave him a raw potato with “Happy Birthday” written on it in sharpie instead of a birthday cake.

      I’m currently the only American in my office. Bosses are from South Africa, and coworkers are from Japan. We do homemade office lunches sometimes, and I love trying what my coworkers make, even if I don’t like it. We’ve had everything from beef tongue to homemade sashimi.

  • Kate July 9, 2010, 11:57 am

    I had this problem in college, and for me, it was always girls who had flat-out eating disorders (they periodically starved themselves or purged regularly) or girls with unhealthy attitudes towards food (they didn’t how to eat a regular diet, and instead alternated between salads all the time and junk all the time) who took an awkward interest in what I ate. Most noticeably, they would stare and whisper and act shocked if they saw me enjoying, say, a hamburger or a cupcake and a beer, and they would be very disdainful when they saw me going on a run.

    At first it made me angry, because I always thoughts, “Don’t resent me for being healthy 90% of the time so that I can indulge the other 10%! It isn’t my fault that you don’t know your body or that you’re lazy!” But over the course of four years, I learned to feel bad for them instead, and even to reach out and offer them some help, albeit very nonconfrontationally, with their problems.

    Next time you catch her rudely staring, maybe say, “Looks good doesn’t it? I can write down my salad dressing recipe for you if you like”, or something in that vein. At least then she will know that you’ve noticed her paying too much attention, and she’ll have the opening to talk to you about food if she needs or wants to.

  • Amanda July 9, 2010, 11:58 am

    I can sympathize with you. When people do that its so unnerving! I can’t tell you how many times complete strangers have looked at my food and said ‘Is that all you’re eating?’ Mind you I don’t eat like a bird by any means. (Sometimes I think I have a hollow leg!) Its rude and demeaning. The most graceful way to breach the topic is (maybe) to talk about food and recipes. I know a lot of people that love to talk about recipes.

  • jassy July 9, 2010, 12:06 pm

    the next time she looks at your food, why not offer her some of your food…tell her, “let’s eat! :)” we filipinos always offer our food to our friends and co-workers as a sign of respect because it’s like we’re eating and we don’t even care to offer them our food. 🙂

  • Molly July 9, 2010, 12:07 pm

    I think she should “break the ice” by bringing in a healthy dish to share with her co-workers. Maybe she could bake some healthy baked goods and explain what ingredients she used and WHY. Why it is better to use whole grain flour or why it is better to stick to all natural sugars like honey or maple syrup rather than table sugar. She could also ask others what their healthy recipes are so they could swap!

  • Madison July 9, 2010, 12:14 pm

    Jul: maybe the next time she does that, just casually say that you noticed that she expresses a lot of interest in your eating habits and ask her why. Tell her it makes you feel uncomfortable when people stare. I think bringing it into the open will help. If you do nothing, nothing will change.

  • Jocelyn July 9, 2010, 12:16 pm

    It sounds to me like this girl is prolly very interested about how you eat and maybe wants to follow in your footsteps! I would take it as a compliment.

  • Laura @ Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness July 9, 2010, 12:18 pm

    I would suggest taking some breaks away from the office, or going somewhere else for lunch. And when you are in the office and catch her staring, offer some or mention something about the food – “It’s called Greek Yogurt, have you ever tried it?” She will probably be embarrassed to have been caught snooping or if she is indeed curious, will ask a question.
    I’ve learned over the years that some people do not have the same person-to-person communication sense. Often times they don’t realize they are being rude, and it’s our duty to overstep what we feel is polite to gracefully tell them they are creeping on us!

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople July 9, 2010, 12:26 pm

    I get a ton of comments, but it is always family at barbecues or other family functions. My coworkers have talked to me about my 90+ lb weight loss, but they don’t make comments on anything I eat or don’t eat. They’ve asked questions, that’s about it.

    But something about family brings out soooo many comments! I tend to make a joke, change the subject, or simply move over and talk to someone else!

  • LC @ Let Them Eat Lentils July 9, 2010, 12:47 pm

    A lot of people eye up what their skinnier friends are eating to try and get healthy ideas for themselves. I think you’re right that she’s probably envious of your relationship with food. She may really enjoy an open conversation about what you choose to eat and how it makes you feel.

  • Gracie July 9, 2010, 12:49 pm

    I actually *just* posted about something similar that happened to me last night. I used to HATE when people paid attention to my eating habits. Honestly, it still kind of bothers me sometimes. But lately I’ve used it as an opportunity to share what my idea of “healthy” is, which includes physical health but also mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. I’ve come to realize that in a world full of dieters and the obsession with being thin all around us…maybe I can be some sort of example…even if it’s just to one person. It also kind of forces me to remind *myself* what being healthy is really all about, if that makes sense.

  • Teresa July 9, 2010, 12:52 pm

    It is so nice to know I am not alone in this. Maybe we should all work together?? My coworker says I eat sticks and bark {although I am not sure why}.

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing July 9, 2010, 12:54 pm

    Barney Butter is the BEST almond butter, hands down!

  • Molly July 9, 2010, 12:58 pm

    Hi Jul,

    I am a little late to the discussion, but I had a very similar situation. I never said anything, and I do know that I sometimes ate odd snacks people would ask about (frozen peas especially!)… then one day a woman in my buidling whom I do not work with, but share a kitchen with stopped me and told me how I completely inspire her! She actually said she never thought of some of my snacks for the “office” though she likes peas too (also she loved that I microwaved sweet potatos). I think it may feel like your office mate is judging you, but she might be watching for ideas? I know I’m guilty of checking people out in the gym when doing strength exercises because I’m always looking to change it up, and others have inspired me. So, just realize its complimentary most likely and if not, no worries until she says something mean!

  • Kristy July 9, 2010, 1:03 pm

    This question spoke to me. Ever since I began to eat healthier and lose weight, EVERY single meal I eat at work one co-workers ALWAYS SAYS “What’s that” “What are you eating” “You CAN eat that stuff” – It is beyond annoying and rude! I don’t judge their unhealthy eats! In addition my boss insists on asking me to go to the GROSSEST most unhealthy restaurant weekly – even though he knows: A) I pack my lunch every day B) I rather splurge on something more enjoyable than the nasty hotdog place he loves. Ok Rant Over 🙂 Maybe I need to write my own post about this topic….

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter July 9, 2010, 1:15 pm

    I have always been interested in people’s food, just cause I love new concoctions but this is a bit different. I think though that she is just interested in her diet. She may just be admiring Jul’s relationship with food and seeing what she is eating. People started to do that with me when they noticed I was cooking up absolutely delicious food and losing weight.

  • Lee July 9, 2010, 1:30 pm

    That’s happened to me before. While it is very annoying and made me feel very uncomfortable, I think the best thing t do is just to ignore her.

  • AnnieP July 9, 2010, 1:32 pm

    I am a very healthy fit person. Jul has just described my office.

    I really tried hard to take the scrutiny as a compliment, but it got too uncomfortable feeling like I was on stage all the time. I asked the one lady who makes food and body comments very nicely and politely to please stop making personal comments concerning my food choices and my body, and that if she had any questions about her own personal food choices or fitness questions, anything like that I would be happy to answer them, I just preferred not to discuss myself personally.

    She has since stopped and hasn’t asked me any questions concerning her own personal healthy choices.

    Sometimes just to raise eyebrows I buy a bag of chips and soda for lunch.

    • caitlin July 10, 2010, 8:57 am

      Hahah love your last comment.

  • Emily July 9, 2010, 1:35 pm

    This is so coincidental as I was just reflecting on this earlier this week. I am a really healthy eater and tend to bring my lunch from home. Twice this week people who I work with have asked me “do you always eat like that?” “you eat so healthy…” I realize this is not in itself an insulting comment, but it makes me feel awkward. The truth is, I run a lot (I’m training for the Marine Corps Marathon) and I like fueling my body with food that is good for it. What I find most interesting is the presumption that it is ok to demean or question a healthy food judgment but not the reverse. For instance, I would never comment (“oh my gosh, you’re eating all that”) on the fact that my coworker just finished off an entire sausage calzone at lunch. To me, the same level of awkwardness can be reached by asking a person if that’s all they are eating. Either way, the person asking the question can make someone feel guilty about what they are or are not eating. A healthy attitude toward food should never be about guilt.

  • Jolene ( July 9, 2010, 1:35 pm

    People are always interesting in what I am eating at work, but it doesn’t bother me at all 🙂 I think they ask, or look because they want to know more, and a lot of the time they will ask questions, and learn about something they may not have known about (chia seeds for example).

  • Teresa July 9, 2010, 1:40 pm

    Maybe Jul could try a bit of humor. Next time she catches her co-worker looking at her food, make a joke, “If you’re staring at my lunch, would you like a bite?” (OK, that’s not really a joke, but you get the idea.) I bet the co-worker doesn’t even realize she’s got a habit of staring. Making a joke would point it out to her, then she might stop. But it’s best not to make a big deal of it. There’s nothing worse than getting on your co-worker’s bad side.

  • Sandy July 9, 2010, 1:47 pm

    I’m always talking to people about what they eat,watching them etc..I guess I’m nosy…but really reading people’s blogs is being nosy’s a peak into other’s lives..
    I apologize to people for looking at their, or asking questions,I’m never doing it to be rude..I find people interesting,and it’s a way for me to learn about food and people’s idea’s!

    Maybe your reader should just get to know this person better, and talk with her..maybe she’s just curious or trying to learn better habit’s..either way~people watching,we all do it..

    Love your New Place..You’re amazing!

  • Kristina July 9, 2010, 2:04 pm

    I love the “Don’t Yuck My Yum…” 🙂

    fortunately, my “strange” food choices are not foreign to MOST of my coworkers (natural medicine clinic, with naturopaths, chiropractic + acupuncture). They all eat wonderful diets, many of them gluten free, vegan or anti inflammatory.

    It is strange, in that environment, to have a coworker that smokes, drinks heavily, goes tanning, and talks about EVERYONE behind their back. We all just kind of ignore it 🙂

    In this situation – like many others have said – I would say something… offer a taste, ask if she’s interested (in a non confrontational way) and see if you can form a relationship to get to the root of it, or at least make her realize she is making you uncomfortable.


  • caronae July 9, 2010, 2:12 pm

    Good question! I work in a very friendly, open office where we are almost all foodies. People are understanding and non-judgmental, whether I am eating a salad or pizza. I think that you are right, this coworker is probably suffering from her own issues with a food and is looking to you because she wants some guidelines. I bet she really respects your choices and you ability to balance your diet well (which it sounds like you do). That said, she has obviously taken things a little too far. Maybe keep your door closed when you are eating, or when you go out and she seems to be staring at your food, make eye contact and say “would you like to try some of this great salad?” Offer only kindness and I bet she’ll stop being nosy and open up. I know it can be hard! Good luck!

  • Megan (Braise The Roof) July 9, 2010, 2:42 pm

    My advice would be, as some other posters have mentioned, just making simple eye contact. If this coworker someone that’s not particularly abrasive or offensive in other ways, I would venture to say that she’s probably just curious about what you’re eating because she sees you as a beacon of good health. By making eye contact with her when she’s staring at what you’re eating it’ll send the message that you notice when she looks at your food and she’ll probably stop doing it as much when she realizes it.

  • Meredith July 9, 2010, 3:06 pm

    I get weird looks in my work cafeteria all the time. I’ll sometimes position my lunch bag near my food to block the view of the nosiest person around me! When we have treats in the office one of my coworkers will always say really loud so the whole office can hear, “Meredith, are we having a donut/cupcake/cookie today?” When I (usually) say no, she says “then I’m not having a donut today!” The past few times I’ve responded with something like “Yes, in fact I’ve already had 5!” to make it into a joke.

    Once a coworker actually asked me, “what would you do if I shoved chocolate in your mouth?” Which has to be the weirdest thing I’ve ever been asked. Just because I don’t indulge at work doesn’t mean I don’t love to go out to eat and have dessert with my husband on the weekend.

    If someone stares I would say just ignore it. If they ask pointed questions try to make it into a joke. I also like how Caitlin responds by saying she doesn’t like the way junk food makes her feel. No one can argue with that.

  • Catherine July 9, 2010, 3:51 pm

    I would maybe, the next time you catch her staring try to engage her in a conversation about your food if you’re comfortable? Maybe she’s just curious about what you’re eating and wants to emulate your healthy choices?
    If that doesn’t help, I would maybe pull her aside and let her know you’re uncomfortable with the extra attention to your food and eating habits. It might be an awkward conversation but she may not even realize she’s being rude or staring?

  • Tanya July 9, 2010, 4:03 pm

    There is no reason Jul should be made uncomfortable. Perhaps its the New Yorker in me (where staring ain’t cool), but I would advise that if the coworker in fact stares (without saying anything), Jul could ask “what?” as one commenter recommended, Jul could look down the front of her shirt and ask if she’s spilled something, Jul could ask her if she’s hungry because she has an extra yogurt in her lunch bag to which the coworker is welcome etc. and in group settings, Jul can just stare back.

    It is possible that the coworker is not aware that she is staring or that her staring is apparent. Jul’s making her conscious of it will break the habit.

  • Kelly July 9, 2010, 4:09 pm

    I started eating vegan about 4 years ago. No one in my office understood it or understood why and constantly made fun of what I was eating. At first I felt that I needed to explain to everyone why I was eating this way etc. Then I started getting offended that they just wouldn’t stop. Now 4 years later it’s just a big joke but every once in a while we will all order in vegan for lunch. Most of them are open to it. I guess it would depend on my mood that day how I would deal with her co-worker. It’s just annoying honestly. Maybe stop her and ask why she is so interested in your meals. If that doesn’t stop her I would find someplace else to eat.

  • Heather July 9, 2010, 4:38 pm

    My co-workers know that I eat pretty healthy, so they are always curious about what I have packed for lunch. They aren’t rude about it (thankfully) – they just ask questions and like to hear about the different stuff I’m trying out.

    My suggestion to Jul would be to ignore her co-worker unless she is making her that uncomfortable – then maybe she could just say something casually to her and ask “did you need some ideas for your own lunch?” or something like that.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) July 9, 2010, 4:51 pm

    My co worker is my husband, so no, he is a good co worker. More to the point…do you eat sandwiches with forks? I do (I hate eating with my hands…it feels like I am stuffing my face) and I thought I was alone!

    I hope your feeling better after your run. Sorry for the frustrations with working out. I hate it when that happens. I normally just try to relax and have a little fun with other types of activity. That way I get the same amount of physical activity in, but it is a little more fun.

  • Jessica July 9, 2010, 5:28 pm

    **On the Nosy Coworker**This may seem like an odd take on the situation but after thinking it over, asked myself, what would I do if in the similar situation? For me, I would approach that person with kindness and friendly tone and ask if she would ever be interested in “xyz” fitness that you like to do and invite her to go with you. Who knows maybe that person is “nosy” because she is genuinely interested in being healthier but does not know how to talk to you about it. Then when you do whatever “xyz” activity you will have the opportunity to get her know her better and that just may be the catylist to get her moving towards a healthier lifestyle. And if she is not interested in doing fitness/activity with you, it may cause her to realize that she is overly interested in your food/lifestyle that she will knock it off.

  • Dominique July 9, 2010, 6:36 pm

    I work for a company that does micro/chem analysis testing on food so you’d think they’d be okay with someone with healthy eating habits (considering the results we sometimes get), but that hasn’t been the case. A few co-workers are genuinely interested but there’s one who likes to grill me a lot about what I eat and why and so yesterday when he was eating a salad, I decided to grill him about it. He’s actually the type of guy who likes to dish it but can’t take it back and so I think he got the point. I don’t necessarily think that this would be the best way for Jul to approach her co-worker but maybe if she sees her eating something that your office has ordered, maybe say “oh, how does that taste?” or “what are you having for lunch today?” and maybe that’ll get her talking about her eating habits. She either wants help with eating better or is nosy. To find out the answer, I think the best approach would be one of kindness, rather than asking her flat-out, what her problem with your food might be.

  • Juli D. July 9, 2010, 7:17 pm

    I find life is much better if you just plain don’t worry about stuff that doesn’t matter. Maybe she is looking at your eating habits – who cares? Hopefully she’ll learn something or ask you about it at some point – until then I wouldn’t say anything. Really I think you need to not worry about it because it doesn’t have to impact your life or how you feel unless you want it to and let it.

  • Paula July 9, 2010, 7:20 pm

    Jul, check out comment #37. I respect everyone’s opinions, but that one really struck me. First of all, I don’t think the co-worker is being rude, per se, curiosity is fine, the comments others have describes, are not. I sense maybe the co-worker is struggling…maybe you can be a help to her if you’re up to it. If not, be kind. 🙂

    LOVE “don’t yuck my yum”!

  • The Fit Collegiate July 10, 2010, 4:41 pm

    I waitress at a restaurant, and they provide us with lunch and dinner; however, we can only order one of 6 things, all of which are unhealthy, not to mention things I don’t particularly enjoy–fried perch, grilled cheese, caesar salad, etc. Also, we are served lunch at 10:30 am (too early!) and if I work at night, dinner isn’t served until 9:30 pm (too late!). As a result, I eat before or after my shifts, because I prefer to make my own food. I’ll just order some fruit instead. My coworkers ALWAYS say, “Is that ALL you’re eating for dinner???!” or “Why don’t you eat anything???!”, even though I’ve explained umpteen times that I would rather eat my own dinner at home at 4:30 than at 9:30. If we have a lot of leftover bread, one guy always goes, “Anna, you have to eat all this bread!”. They seriously think I’m anorexic, which is ignorant because a) I’m only at the restaurant 4-5 hours a day (one meal), and you can’t diagnose an eating disorder based on seeing someone’s habits for one single meal and b) if I really did have an eating disorder, their hurtful comments would make matters worse.

  • Nicci July 10, 2010, 6:51 pm

    My coworkers watch what I eat constantly. Mainly b/c my love for green smoothies weirds them out or veggie burgers. Some ask for help with weight loss; they’ve noticed I’ve lost weight and don’t eat out with them 24. Sometimes I get rude comments from the ”picky eater” in the office who only eats meat and potatoes, but I just say ”I like to try new things and be different.” 🙂

  • Stephanie August 6, 2010, 7:28 pm

    I’ve only skimmed most of the responses and have one thing to say: I thought I was the only one who was going through this! I’m in the ‘lost a significant amount’ group and am looking forward to the day that my new size is ‘normal’ for my co-workers and I’m not under constant scrutiny. Since day one I’ve taken the ‘everything in moderation’ approach, but when I have my indulgence, I get the ‘/you/ eat /that/?!’ comment.

    Sometimes I get uppity – especially when the comments come ones that I know don’t have a good relationship with food (seriously… an apple and yogurt is her food. for the day. consistently.) Sometimes I joke it off. Most times I just sit at my desk and eat so I don’t have to deal.

    Sadly I don’t have much advice beyond staying consistent with your chosen lifestyle and way of eating and don’t let it get to you. It’s a good thing to lead by example, but it can get tedious to feel like your every move is being watched.

  • Kusuma February 24, 2012, 3:28 pm
  • Teresoy August 9, 2015, 3:20 am

    I know this is an old post but I had a similar, no wait! exact situation with a nosey co-worker that gawk at my every bite of whatever I brought for my meals and snacks.
    One day I decided to nip it in the butt.. This was making me very uncomfortable to the point I was hiding from him literally at mealtimes. So I decided to pack an extra with me one day and when he heard the ruffle of my lunch bag he came rushing over to just pass by and see what I had that I looked at him and said.. oh it’s just broccoli cauliflower salad you want some? I used homemade ranch dressing with sunflower seeds! he was dumbfounded and muttered umm no thanks as he looked around to see who was looking at him.. I was very loud so that everyone heard. That was the last time he ever snooped on my goods. 🙂

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