HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Do you ever want to turn the tables on people who ask "how can you eat that?"?

If I eat foods that are unusual/not mainstream I get the "how can you eat that?" reaction from people. However, when someone offers me ranch dressing because it goes well with everything and I politely decline, they are shocked that I don't think it is the nommiest thing ever (ranch dressing is just an example). At this point I want to turn the tables on them and go off on them about "how can you eat THAT!?" Not in a food snobby way, but just use their same eye rolling, ranting behavior they use. Is it just me that would love to do that? Has anyone here ever tried to do that?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Not sure what you mean.... "how can yout that?"
    "how can you it that?"
    I'm assuming that you mean "How can you eat that?"
    No, I politely decline, unless it is a friend, then I'll say more, like maybe I think it's gross or something.

    2 Replies
    1. When I'm in the spotlight, "You don't know what you're missing," or words to that effect ("Your loss!") work for me. As to turning it around, I dunno. I'm no Pollyanna, but I'd rather save my ammo for something other than food preferences which are, after all, quite personal and pretty much not harmful.

      1. I don't see the point. You are obviously very annoyed by those types of comment. How does turning the table make it better? You are just trying to score points and will turn out looking like as big an *ss as they look to you.

        Why not be a grown up and when someone makes a comment about what you are eating a) ignore it and change the subject b) make a neutral comment about it or c) tell them you don't appreciate their comments and you would prefer they didn't criticize your meal choices.

        Seriously everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten- this time it is that two wrongs don't make it right.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodieX2

          "tell them you don't appreciate their comments and you would prefer they didn't criticize your meal choices."

          Obviously that's the best answer, but doesn't really feed my inner dragon that really hates people who bitch about my food choices out loud. They can think it all they want as long as 'the looks' stay off their faces (another hot-button issue for me) but I don't want to hear it. It makes me want to blurt out something that will hurt their feelings and teach them a lesson and that's my cross to bear, I know.

        2. "It's easy...I was taught that it's impolite to reject something before I've tried it, and it turns out that I like it. You should try it sometime."

          1. Find other people to hang out with.

            1. I just own it and they have nothing to say. So for example, I like a specific brand of chili that is store bought. My friend says how can you eat that, it smells like dog food. I say, best dog food I have ever had. They usually shut up after that.

              My problem is declining things I don't want to eat. This is why I avoid dinner parties. I get tired of "just try it, dont know what your missing. Oh yes I do. I have tried that multiple time and I hate it. So I polity choke down their version and guess what, I still hate it and then have to smile. " Mmmm yumm, I normally dont like X but yours is awesome."

              "See, I will give you some for the road" Doh!

              6 Replies
              1. re: kjonyou

                Why bother lying? Just say you don't like it, even after trying it several times. And if they insist, just say "No thank you." Repeatedly, if necessary.

                Then you don't have to worry about having them pack some "for the road."

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I tried that. Usually say something like I know your X is probably wonderful, but I just don't normally eat X, so I am going to have to pass. Usually the host is OK with that.

                  But then, I get ganged up on by other guests. "you don't eat X?" "how can you not eat X?" "We love X" Then some kind of turn to the host as to make up for my bad behavior and say "well, we lover your X Mr. host." Your other guest doesn't know what he is missing!

                  Not even talking to me at that point.

                  1. re: kjonyou

                    sorry, that's just as rude and immature. By the second or third time I'd turned it down, I'd be thinking about just grabbing my coat and heading for the door.

                    1. re: kjonyou

                      I'd probably tell the other guests "Well, you can enjoy my portion then. I don't like it; I shouldn't be forced to eat it if I don't like it."

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Hmmmmm, that is a good idea. I might have to try that next time. Maybe put them on the spot. "hey everyone, Mr. X is going to have my portion since I dont eat that. If you dont want yours, he has room on his plate." LOL

                        1. re: kjonyou

                          There you go - joke about it and hopefully it'll blow over more quickly and focus will go elsewhere.

                2. I usually just answer "with great delight" or "I put it in my mouth and chew it up"

                  Neither are rude (okay, the chew it up one is a little smart-assy, but not rude) -- and both indicate that I'm going to eat it, and it's not my issue that you don't like it.

                  1. Oh I know exactly what you mean...

                    1. The only sensible reply is "Oh, its wonderful, here try some."

                      And the only necessary reply when someone offers you something you don't want is to say "No thank you."

                      Now if you want to paste a horror stricken, disgusted look on your face at the same time who am I to say anything?

                      1. At a prior job, my lunch choices were a constant source of disgust for several co-workers. Exotic and strange things like sliced apples and blue cheese with crackers and cold salmon on a salad.

                        A friend (in the same department) has a theory that the "how can you eat that?" People are doing it to draw attention to themselves.

                        Based on my former co-workers, I agree with her theory.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: cleobeach

                          OMG you eat stuff like that? Fresh fruit and cheese for lunch? and the cheese isn't even Kraft slices? Good lord cleo what are you thinking??? I figured it was just something like strawberry jelly instead of grape jelly on a pb&j. No wonder they stare at you like that!

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            I thought there would be tears the day I got take out sushi

                            1. re: cleobeach

                              Ive heard tell its not bad if you throw it in the microwave for a few minutes and take off that black wrapping paper.

                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                I wish I were kidding -- I sat next to a guy at a sushi bar who pulled all the nori off, and loudly complained about them not taking the damned wrappers off.

                                I started to laugh and realized he was dead serious.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  oh, i believe you, my comment was a paraphrase of something I overheard as well. I wonder if the guy in your encounter peels stuffed grape leaves as well?

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    I actually do that, but it's because I like eating the leaf last.

                        2. Pretty sure that everyone on this thread is a better person than I am. Of course the right thing to say would be any of the high-road, polite responses already listed and they're usually the route I'd go.

                          However... I did encounter one frequent nose-turner-upper who decided I was some sort of elitist food snob with my homemade hummus and polo sabzi. The "how can you eat thats" were constant along with wrinkled nose and disgusted face. She even got some other coworkers to join in, such that they would do things like make chocolate chip cookies for the office and not offer me any because they figured they "wouldn't be fancy enough" for me.

                          She crossed the line for me when I had my son and she caught me discussing the homemade baby food I was making because I wanted to avoid feeding him preservatives. She said something like "I can't believe you're doing that to your son" and went on some sort of rant about how sad my kid would feel at other kids' birthday parties (which had nothing to do with my homemade apple sauces) and blah blah.

                          At that point, I just decided to give in to the devil, and dish it all back out. I have to say, it was pretty fun to pop up at her hot dog lunchtimes and say "wow, processed meat, that's adventurous, I'd hate to think what body parts are in there..." or "did you hear about the pink sludge in those mcNuggets? Wow. How can you eat that?!"
                          Luckily I didn't work with her long and sure, I was childish, but oh, it felt so good.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: hyacinthgirl

                            no, I think you were on the high road.

                            Pretty hard to sink that that level...that's about as ugly as it can possibly get, and really pathetic that she had to not only act like a child, but to get others to play along.

                            (of course, I'd have given more than a little thought to a good hunk of chevre right in front of the exhaust fan on her computer....)

                            and more power to you on the baby food -- I have teenagers and they now beg me to make applesauce and granola because it's so much better than the stuff from the store.

                            1. re: hyacinthgirl

                              I had a friend like that, who would castigate me for eating home made turkey breast that I'd roast for my sandwiches, instead of the sodium-laden crap they sell at the supermarket deli. Meanwhile, he'd be eating hot dogs and Italian sub sandwiches.

                              Finally, I started sending him emails with links to stories about how many rat droppings and insect parts are allowed to be in processed meat, per FDA guidelines. Suddenly, the comments stopped...

                            2. I carefully explain that I put the food in my mouth and chew.

                              1. I just went through this exact thing this past weekend. I made a delicious Ethiopian meal all from scratch (Injera, Kitfo, Gomen Wat and Butecha). My husband posted a picture on Facebook, and immediately the comments came in "ugh...RAW meat?" "That's not bread, it looks like paper towels" "how can you eat that?"

                                My response was "I'm glad you don't like it, more for us". And basically ignore it.

                                I also get the horrified reactions when we go to Dim Sum and I get the Chicken Feet. I just smile and make really, really loud "yummy" noises.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: mwk

                                  WTH is wrong with people? On what planet is this acceptable behaviour for adults?

                                  I could see "not my thing" as a comment..but even that's pretty rude.

                                  Those kind of comments are just ridiculous, and I'd have to seriously reconsider my friendships with people who would say crap like that.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    I agree, I always want to ask "are your still 4 years old or what?". I have one friend that I can reverse roles and go into the "how can eat" the tirade. She's actually a better sport than I am. I even turned her on to pesto. The rest of the people I figure we can agree to disagree rather than harm a friendship.

                                  2. re: mwk

                                    I made some egg rolls, crab rangoon, stir fried veggies and rice. I posted a pic on fbook (because I have friends that are truly interested). One friend commented, "If you like that kind of stuff. I don't care for Chinese" and I thought, why post anything? She's been known to do that on a few posts. I don't think it has anything to do with the food.

                                      1. re: wyogal

                                        That sounds like good food to me. But I have notice when people post food pics to Facebook, more often then not it dose not look good.

                                        There is an art to food photography which entails good lighting, set up and camera angle. Most of the time people just snap a pic of the plate. The problem is, they fail to realize people on the other end are not experiencing your moment with the food, your hunger, your surroundings etc. All they see is re-fried beans and taco sauce sliding into a messy pool on the plate.

                                        1. re: kjonyou

                                          Oh yeah, it must be me and my horrible photographs.

                                          1. re: wyogal

                                            yep, it looks nasty, even though i know it probably tastes great.

                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                Why do you have to take it personally? Most food photographs that aren't professionally taken, usually with thousands of dollars worth of equipment and a sleeveful of tricks from a food stylist, do not show food off to its most delectable advantage.

                                                Someone here recommended a blog the other day that seems as if it will be a terrific cooking resource, but the photos are terrible. Very one-dimensional, with what looks like very unpleasant goo on a lot of the food. I'm able to look past the photos because the food info is so good, but this is an exception in the food blog universe.

                                          2. re: kjonyou

                                            doesn't excuse rude behavior, regardless of what the photo looks like (and wyo's photo looks pretty tasty)

                                      2. Interesting to see this thread after my recent experiences.

                                        The local police were called out to my friend's house (Cambodian) this past weekend because a neighbor found what was thought to be human bones under a deck. After some careful investigation and research it was found to be the bones of a pig foot.

                                        Police: "Do people really eat stuff like this?"
                                        Friend: "Uh, yes."

                                        Really???? Living under a rock or something?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Novelli

                                          Agreed, Novelli. Hadn't those cops ever heard the great Bessie Smith song, "Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer)"? What is this country coming to?!

                                          1. re: Miss Priss

                                            I'm still trying to wrap my head around finding bones under the neighbor's deck (what are you doing under the neighbor's deck in the first place?) and having the first assumption be that they must be human (as opposed to rat-mouse-possum-etc)

                                            ETA: this conveniently has the foot bones of several species on the same page.... ttp://www.hsu.edu/pictures.aspx?id=833 (okay, they're all foot bones so vaguely similar, but really?)

                                        2. I just smile and say, "To each their own."

                                          I have yet have anybody fill in the rest. "Said the old lady as she kissed the cow."

                                          1. But have you ever been the one to ask that question when someone else was eating a durian ?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: DagingKuda

                                              LOL no, since I'm usually the one eating it HAHAHAHA

                                            2. I thought of this thread while listening to "This American Life" over the weekend...


                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                That was a great episode. I was rooting for the bung too.

                                                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                  When it was finished, I wanted to find a restaurant that seemed likely to sell the ersatz calamari to try it...I'm even considering getting a package of bung to make it myself, but Mrs. ricepad is not amused by the thought.

                                              2. Granted, I eat most meals alone, but I don't think anyone's ever asked me "How can you eat that?" in all my years.

                                                Sometimes I roll my eyes in a way that says "How can you eat that?" to one of my best friends when he puts mayo on anything hot (burgers, breakfast sandwiches). But I only do it because he mocks me for eating cilantro. I guess we've turned the table on each other in the "How can you eat that?" game.

                                                Another of my friends slurps. I've had to talk to him about it, because we eat out a lot and he orders soup at almost every meal. But that's more "How can you make so much noise while you eat that?"

                                                1. Some really good/funny comebacks!! :) ~~ I usually say "like this" as i take a bite and start chewing....sometimes even smacking. Ha!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                    Years ago, I was TA'ing a freshman course at college, and had my "office" hours in the student lounge at lunchtime. One of our students stopped by when I was in the middle of (I think) a bologna sandwich. She stopped during a pleasant conversation, eyed the sandwich, and asked, "How can you get enjoyment from the flesh of dead animals?"

                                                    I responded just like you, Uncle Bob. Smacking and all.

                                                  2. Some variant of "I know, right?" as I continue eating is usually absurdist enough to end that line of conversation.

                                                    1. My friends and family are so busy enjoying their good food they would never have the time interest or desire to care or address what another person is eating....ever.Other than "hey may I try a bite of that" I can not imagine them focusing on anyone in an intrusive manner such as you described.And if someone did make another person feel awkward regarding their dining preferences they would be politely asked to please just STFU so the rest of us can chow down in peace. I think if your so called friends lack boundaries to the point that they belittle you and say rude things to you that if it were me I would find some more stoic adventurous "anything goes" friends to eat my lunch with.Or eat alone:)

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Lillipop

                                                        I can't imagine my friends or family making comments like that either. But that's not who makes comments to me.

                                                        When I'm heating or plating up my lunch in the staff kitchen, I will often get comments, good or bad from co-workers. I'm not going to tell a co-worker to STFU over something so minor and I can't ask the VP to get rid of someone because they don't like my lunch.

                                                      2. Ah irony...yes I experience this all the time...among my non foodie/non CHOWish colleagues, friends and family. The only thing I ever say is: more for me folks.

                                                        I recall a co worker getting very defensive about produce (fruit) stating that there was nothing wrong with 'just' enjoying apples and oranges while I was digging into my fresh pineapple and grapefruit salad (I probably freaked him out further with the honeycomb/Greek yogurt on top). As if I was judging his love for the some fresh fruit basics...I was amused my eating bothered his sensibilities since I wasn't forcing him to eat my lunch :) but again, more for me!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          I got a lot of flak about a barquette of fresh black figs, a log of chevre, and a "baguette" when I was wishing I was back on vacation...(years ago)

                                                          ...until the colleague from the Seychelles came down and practically strongarmed me into sharing with her.

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            oh you had me @ black figs, suns!

                                                        2. I have this feeling all the time but have never acted on it. I work and am friends with most people who consume Doritos or frozen chicken nuggets every night (nothing against those foods as I consume them as well on occasion), but they are revolted by a juicy medium rare steak or seared tuna or any number of dishes that are regulars in my house. Also, I eat a pretty high-protein diet out of choice not necessarily weight concerns and so a can of tuna or chicken breasts seasoned with Sriracha and mustard is a perfect lunch to me but I get constant stares and "how can you eat that?" I often want to reply - well how can you eat the pile of junk with who knows what in it that the random cheapest caterers bring everyday to breakfast and lunch for conference but I just go on and enjoy my food and let them enjoy theirs. I often wish that they wouldn't be so closed minded as it's been my experience that 9.9/10 if someone tries a dish they revolt at they really truly enjoy it. In fact, my best friend used to be the biggest fan of opening a bag of chips, crackers, etc for dinner every night and popping whichever frozen item he had in the microwave and argued against eating anything made at home but is now the biggest fan of pesto, poke, and many other things that he refused to try for the longest and made fun of me for eating.

                                                          1. I had a friend openly criticize the chicken-fried steak my bestie and I were eating (our once in a great while indulgence). I yelled at her over her rude behavior and then she got upset. Crazy, crazy people.

                                                            1. I once got the "How can you eat that?" from a friend who cloaks her eating disorders in all sorts of rules that make things "healthier." Especially "healthier than thou." At the time she was only eating organic, occasionally chicken or fish, but mostly vegetarian.

                                                              I was washing mushrooms.

                                                              "Huh?" I asked, quite eloquently, I thought.

                                                              "They grow in sh*t," she answered, with a nose-wrinkle.

                                                              "What do you think your organic vegetables grow in?"

                                                              I don't think she eats anything now.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. I skimmed through this thread and would like to point something out. If I posted a thread about my dinner of green bean casserole with canned cream o' mushroom soup, jello salad, etc. etc. etc. See the Thanksgiving food you would never eat thread for more examples. A high percentage of the "foodies" at chowhound would be saying "how can you eat that shit".

                                                                Same Same.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: kengk

                                                                  Here here! I admit proudly that the Thankgsiving type dishes are my favorite food and would be my last meal if I had to choose and that hated Thanksgiving food threads got to me every time, but to each his/her own I guess right? I definitely agree that it goes the other way as well and is not only frustrating but makes you feel like you're not good enough for Chow sometimes :) (although I know that is not the intention, some people can be very judgy and downright hypercritical)

                                                                2. I love steak tartare. Snails? Just put 'em on a plate in front of me and watch them dissappear. In my mouth. Tongue sandwiches? Divine! One of my favorite dishes to make is veal kidneys in mustard sauce. I am the one who lives to eat those chicken gizzards that come in that silly paper-ish pack with the roast chicken! Lapin. Quail. Sweetbreads. Pig Cheeks. Yes. I will gladly consume them. Many, many times I've been asked--and with disgust "EWW..how can you eat THAT??" I demurely and coquettishly answer with a Mona Lisa smile. "Come on now. I'm sure you've put WORSE things into YOUR mouth". And I never get asked that question again. Think about my answer!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: jarona

                                                                    You list many of my favourites [I've never had veal kidneys, but if someone who love tongue, snails, and chicken gizzards recommends them, I'm game to try!].

                                                                    My usual response is along the lines of "Thank you for your comments; You must remind me to critique your food sometime." But I like your answer better.

                                                                    And I actually own a cookbook called "You've Had Worse Things In Your Mouth"! One of the chapters is simply entitled Revenge.

                                                                  2. I usually answer calmly, "With a fork or pair of chopsticks".

                                                                    1. the problem with a snappy comeback - no matter how witty and perfectly delivered - is that it provides reinforcement for the initial behaviour.

                                                                      my response would be a sincere "would you like to try some?" if they genuinely wanted to engage me on the food in question, they can say yes. if they just wanted to provoke me, they failed.

                                                                      1. I just tell them they don't know what they are missing and enjoy the rest of my meal.