my coworker is always dieting — do we have to accommodate her?

A reader writes:

I have seen you suggest responses for accommodating coworkers with dietary restrictions due to health or religious needs, but what about coworkers who CHOOSE to go on diets?

I have a coworker that has been willingly doing the Keto diet for the last year, and she still is insufferable about it. Anytime people in our department bring in treats or snacks that do not align with her diet, she makes several comments about how we tempt her or how the smell of the food makes her sick or how she once again can’t enjoy the food we are all snacking on.

We also do team lunches every month and she always makes a big scene over whether or not there is anything good for her to eat at the restaurant that the group votes on. Sometimes the group lunch is for a new coworker starting that month (we let them choose the spot), and once this person refused to join the group for a welcome lunch because the place was Italian and was mostly carbs (but…salad?).

It’s not so much about her right to opt out of a group lunch as it is just all the snowballing comments. I get annoyed because when I choose to go on a diet (and I have), I don’t make other people feel bad about what they consume or inconvenience others because of my choice. I understand it is a personal decision and I will have to deal with repercussions in different areas of my life, including work. Am I coming at this the wrong way? Should we always accommodate any diets that coworkers are willingly on? If not, do I just need to put up with the constant comments?

There are two separate issues here: whether/how much you need to accommodate her dietary restrictions for group meals, and how to handle her constant comments about other people’s food.

When it comes to accommodating her dietary restrictions, you should mostly treat them like any other dietary restrictions — meaning don’t handle them differently just because she’s choosing hers. After all, lots of dietary restrictions are “chosen” in some way, versus being medical required. You should still accommodate them as much as you can, because this is about making sure that everyone on your team can participate in a group meal and still have adequate nutrition. The goal is participation, regardless of whether someone is doing Keto by choice or is deathly allergic to shellfish.

That means that generally, you should do what you can to find restaurants that she can eat something at. If it’s too hard to find restaurants that work for everyone, it can be easier to order in so that you’re able to order from multiple places to meet everyone’s needs.

It’s not the end of the world if one new person picks a place for their welcome lunch that this coworker won’t eat at … but in general, for most of these lunches, try to accommodate everyone who wants to participate. (Obviously there are exceptions to this for extreme cases. If your coworker announces she’ll only eat reindeer meat and nothing else, and there’s only one weird place in town that serves it, it’s fine to say, “We don’t want to go to Reindeer Hut every time because there’s not much there the rest of us like, but you’re welcome to join us at Taco Torrent and bring your own food if you want.”)

The second, separate issue is her stream of comments on other people’s food. That’s rude, and it’s not okay, and you’re on solid ground in either ignoring her or asking her to stop. When she complains about people bringing in snacks that she can’t eat, someone really should say, “It’s not reasonable to expect us to follow your diet, and we’d like to be able to eat the foods we want without regular commentary.” And you could suggest that she bring in her own treats so that she’s able to snack on something too.

One caveat here: There are situations where your organization — not individual coworkers — should make sure she’s not being left out. For example, if you have a tradition of passing out snacks at meetings, a good manager would ensure there are snacks she can eat (even if they’re separate from what everyone else is eating). If the snacks are “from” the manager or being provided by the organization, it’s both good manners and good management to make sure everyone is covered. So if your coworker is complaining in those situations, someone should listen to her.

But we’re talking about a coworker baking banana bread at home and bringing it into share, they’re not obligated to provide alternatives for people who don’t want it or can’t have it.

{ 605 comments… read them below }

  1. saf*

    “bring your own food if you want.”

    You need to check with the restaurant before you offer this. In DC, bringing in outside food is generally against the license terms of places that serve food.

    1. KHB*

      In the past, Allison has suggested getting delivery/catering in cases like this where there’s no single restaurant that can accommodate everyone. That could be a good way to go, assuming you have a space on site where you can all eat together.

      1. KHB*

        (And of course I have to go and mess up the number of l’s in Alison’s name – sorry!)

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        As someone with an allergy to a specific food that means I may have trouble being in the room where it is being eaten for a while after the meal (depending on ventilation, whether leftovers are thrown away in a trash can in the room, and a few other things), I am going to recommend NOT having group meals at your office in a space where you will also need people to be working/meeting right after the meal. I’ve had to leave many a right-after-lunch conference session or “working lunch” due to allergic reactions from lingering lunch food eaten by others. (Think of it like a fragrance allergy, but to a food. I will also have a food allergy type set of reactions if I actually eat it, but given the breathing troubles and watery eyes that start happening just being nearby I generally don’t have to worry about eating my allergen on accident.)

        If you have a separate cafeteria space, go for it. I may not be there depending on the ventilation, but my allergies really aren’t practical to accommodate during large group meals and I generally solve that problem by eating my own food elsewhere. I just hate missing out on non-food things because of food allergies.

        1. Snark*

          This is not relevant to the question at hand, though, which is about a diet, not an allergy restriction.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            It’s relevant when the accommodation for someone else (ordering food in from multiple places rather than trying to compromise on a restaurant) causes a new problem for me (now I can’t go into the poorly-ventilated conference room this afternoon for the rest of the meeting since you ate my allergen in it and possibly threw away your leftovers in the in-room trash can).

            1. NothingIsLittle*

              I’m not sure I understand why they have to be mutually exclusive though? Why would you not be able to say, “Hey, we have one major food allergy, buy anything you want that doesn’t include peanut butter/shellfish/etc.” and allow everyone to buy something that satisfies their own dieting needs? It seems like the workplace would always need to be free of the allergen regardless of whether the food was catered or brought from home, in which case it should already be banned from the workplace as a reasonable medical accommodation.

              Perhaps your particular situation wouldn’t allow ordering in because the allergen is especially prevalent or is more common in restaurant food, but that’s not applicable to a typical workplace. It’s worth bringing up, certainly, but not universally relevant. Nothing in OP’s question suggests there are conflicting accommodations, and I don’t think any reasonable person would knowingly risk putting someone into anaphylactic shock or any other major medical distress.

              1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                I guess I’m particularly sore about this because my allergen is bell peppers, which are in so. many. things. that get ordered in for work group food things. I have trouble when people order from sandwich places, when people order from Tex-Mex places, when people order pizza, and when people order from Italian places.

                It’s particularly bad because it’s not usually a “featured ingredient” if that makes sense, so the people ordering the food often don’t even realize they’ll be bringing in my allergen until the food arrives since they’ve never really thought about what’s in that salad/sandwich/sauce/whatever.

                1. NothingIsLittle*

                  That makes so much more sense. In your case, I guess it would probably be difficult to enforce any type of ban because so often they’ll be included in a dish without necessarily being included in the menu description. My sympathies, I can’t imagine have a major allergy to something so prevalent. I hope your workplace can find a safe way to include you in food-related activities!

          2. Flora*

            It really is, for the reason Seven states. If accommodating someone’s dietary choice creates an actual medical crisis for someone else, sorry, the choosing person loses.

    2. SchueylerSeestra*

      Even if not against the license most restaurants wouldn’t be open to the idea of outside food. Kitchens are set up for efficiency, most don’t have microwaves, plus the worry of contamination. No one wants to pull someone off the line to prep outside food. The only time the restaurant I worked at made exceptions was for kosher meals. Which had to be ordered in advance. Many places have an outside dessert of corkage fees. I could see the same thing happening for a full outside meal. Most places are also set up to accommodate allergies and other dietary restrictions. Some will even prep a special meal if restrictions are known in advance. However, there may be only one option depending on staff or ingredients available. There are certain ingredients they have allocated certain dishes and can’t be subbed to another.

      1. WellRed*

        The restaurant is unlikely to even notice a contraband sandwich and some cut up vegetables. Of course the restaurant shouldn’t be expected to do anything to prep outside food.

        1. SchueylerSeestra*

          Oh they would. They would most definitely notice outside food. Servers are perceptive.

        2. CynicallySweet*

          Yeah they would. Depending on what u bring they might not say anything but I was a waitress fer years and if someone brought their own stuff I always noticed (tho it was way more common fer ppl to bring in booze than food)

        3. Important Moi*

          It’s early for me…so if the server notices, will said customer be marched to the guillotine for the crime of bringing in food into the restaurant?

          1. IndoorCat*

            Eh, in high school I and three other friends got kicked out of a local diner and “banned” by the manager because we’d brought a box of strawberries and a bag of Oreos.

            Like, it didn’t escalate to anyone calling the cops; we left when the manager sternly told us to leave, that bringing in outside food is “highly disrespectful” and that Oreo cookies are “an insulting garbage food.” I still laugh about it, and I don’t know if the manager would have approached us like that if we were adults. But I think they’d at least notice.

      2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        It’s against health regulations to prep and even store outside food where I am. Guests aren’t even allowed in the kitchen for safety reasons so they can’t use our facilities at all to prepare their food. And you are correct, my chef would never pull a cook away from a busy line to make someone a meal with the ingredients they brought in.

        1. LJay*

          I don’t think anyone is talking about having the food enter the kitchen in any way. They’re talking about someone bringing in a tupperware of raw veggies or something like that.

          Expecting the restaurant to prepare anything would be unreasonable and likely illegal.

          1. Morning Flowers*

            Agreeing with LJay.

            As a person with … truly absurd dietary restrictions, the last few times I was in a restaurant, *many* moons ago, the restaurant had zero problem with me bringing my own food. I explained to the server I had my own food and why, and that there was less than zero chance I could eat off the menu. It probably helped my restrictions were so severe and obvious as to not just require my own food, but to eat off a disposable placemat I brought in myself because my food could not even touch the table. (I’ve since become so careful about a few reactions that I won’t even go in restaurants anymore.)

            Asking the restaurant to accomodate you is probably legal (I’ve heard of Korean restaurants who’ll, say, cook octopus you bring yourself from the market), but it sure isn’t reasonable. In a situation like this you should bring your own food that can be eaten pleasantly stone cold.

    3. Liv Jong*

      I was coming to say something similar. As a server, please don’t encourage people to make me work for free.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        But bringing your own food doesn’t necessarily require you to work for free? I have to bring my own food whenever my office has a work lunch because I have too many food allergies. I never bring anything that requires heating or other prep work for the restaurant, and I don’t order any beverage beyond the water they automatically bring to the table for everyone. From your and SchueylerSeestra’s comments, I’m assuming people do bring food and ask the restaurant to prep it. But bringing your own food, by itself, does not always mean the server working for free and the kitchen doing extra work.

        1. Liv Jong*

          Frequently there isn’t a problem, but servers live off of tips with some states paying as little as $2.13/hr. Then there are tip outs to bussers, food runners, bartenders, hosts, etc.

          Then consider how tables and work are divided up and the seating rotations for servers. If I get a large table (say a ten top) I’m given smaller number (two top) tables to keep it even with other servers.

          I still have to set up for a ten top, and clean the area, table and chairs and breakdown if needed.

          If you chose to bring your own food into my establishment I am still required check on you and give you a free glass of lemon water with a side packet of sugar (lemonade).

          And finally on a personal note, I have found because the person bringing their own food doesn’t care about menu they are the most likely to talk over me when I’m giving specials or taking orders. They are also the most likely to criticize the menu and critique everyone else’s orders. It’s a rare gem (usually former server) to order a drink and what they can and tip well on that $3 tab.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yeah, I know how it works, which is why I always make sure to tip as though I’d ordered something, and so do all my friends I know with food restrictions who have to bring their own meals. And nobody I know with food restrictions talks over the wait staff or is rude to them. You have clearly had bad experiences, and you have my sympathy for that. But you are making assumptions that your bad experience is universal for everyone bringing their own food. That’s really not fair–after all, many, many of us with food restrictions have had unpleasant or even dangerous experiences with wait staff, but I know that isn’t all wait staff. And the alternative is, what? We never get to socialize with family or friends at restaurants, never get to participate in work lunches? Or we go and always have to just sit there and starve, or watch while everyone else eats? That seems pretty unfair to ask. If you don’t have serious food restrictions, you may not realize how isolating that can be.

            I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences. But so many of us are just to trying to make the best out of our situation.

            1. CynicallySweet*

              I get where you’re coming from here 100%, n trust me the care you take to be good to servers is commendable and appreciated. But it is not the norm.

              The fact that ur friends are just as courteous means that u surround urself w/ good ppl, it really doesn’t mean that others do too.

              In my exp ppl who don’t order food have no problem talking over other ppl trying to order. And most don’t tip like ordered. And yes they’ll tear apart anything brought to the table no problem. I think that if there were more ppl like u w/ allergies there’d be a lot less bitter ex/current servers (I myself am a card carrying bitter ex-waitress).

              You are the exception not the norm. Please continue to be, while simultaneously recognizing that

              1. boop the first*

                We also have a clear description of the person in question, and there is no reason to believe that OP’s coworker is suddenly going to turn polite and caring once entering a restaurant!

            2. Massmatt*

              But a restaurant is a business (with generally low margins) that sells food and service in exchange for money.

              Are you and your friends with food restrictions going out to restaurants together and not eating, or bringing your own food? This is would absolutely kill a restaurant’s evening, not to mention a server.

              Even if a restaurant charges a plate fee of some kind it’s not likely to break even on the cost of someone taking up the seat and not eating.

              1. Margaret*

                Yeah- as someone who works a lot of food service, I’d throw someone eating their own food out in a heartbeat. The margins are tiny, we’re counting on people in our restaurant being there to purchase food from us. I’ve seen an owner excuse it once or twice for baby food- and I sometimes used to have customers bring me gluten free bread that I’d make one of our sandwiches on, but you can’t just bring food into restaurants and not order theirs.

                It’s not like you don’t have other solutions. If there’s an allergy or a restriction, get take out and go eat together where everyone can have what they want in a park, or someone’s house, or back at the office.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  Well, I guess my friends and I won’t be going to your restaurant, since you won’t let me eat my food there.
                  It would be 3 or more people and me, and everyone I’m with would order. I would too, if possible. For example, I might order some meat and eat my own bread with it.
                  So the attitude of this owner you mention – which is really pissing me off – would cause him to lose out on full orders from 3 people and maybe a partial order from me.
                  I’m lucky to live in a city where restaurant managers are more sympathetic and accommodating. And I always tip well.

        2. Ethyl*

          Unless the person paying remembers to tip on all the food consumed not just what’s on the bill, then yeah, you’re asking the server to work for free.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            I’m aware. I do make sure to tip as though I’d ordered a meal, and everyone I know with food restrictions does the same. I know that not everyone does that. I’m just saying that bringing your own food doesn’t necessarily mean the server is working for free, and that’s true.

            1. Snark*

              This is just not the kind of thing to rules-lawyer. If you go to a restaurant, order food and drink.

              1. Marmaduke*

                And then… throw the food away?

                Not to be snarky here, but when my loved ones or coworkers ask me to go to a restaurant with them and there is literally nothing on the menu that I can safely eat (which has happened on occasion), I’m going to go with them. For things like a close coworker’s farewell lunch or my best friend’s wedding luncheon, I should be allowed to attend just like every other member of the party. Ordering food I can’t eat and then leaving it to be disposed of seems ridiculous.

                1. OhNo*

                  You can order something for someone else to consume. Like, say, ordering an app for the table, or a drink or dessert for the honoree. You could also order something for a family member or friend/coworker back at the office as take out.

                  And that’s not even going into the options of talking to the server (or calling the restaurant beforehand), and seeing if there’s anything that can be made or modified to suit your dietary needs. Obviously, that’s not always going to be an option (esp. for allergens!), but for diets like keto in the letter, it might be possible to order something and either hold the carb-heavy sides, offer them to someone else at the table, or bring them home for a spouse/child/friend.

                2. FirstTimePosting*

                  My friend is a state health inspector for restaurants; this is a big no-no in Minnesota:
                  “Food prepared or stored in a private home must not be used or offered for human consumption in a food establishment”

        3. Snark*

          The person is still taking up a revenue-making restaurant seat. As a proportion of a unit of the space in the restuarant that generates revenue and tips, that is absolutely taking money out of the restaurant’s and the server’s pockets. That’s one less paying customer that can be accomodated in their space.

          1. Former Employee*

            If there is a group lunch and they set up a table for 12 instead of 11, it’s not as if some random stranger would be joining them to produce more revenue for the restaurant.

            It’s the same thing if the person who can’t eat goes out with 3 friends for a meal and brings their own food. I doubt the restaurant would force the party of 3 to accept a 4th person at their table or booth.

      2. Morning Glory*

        Agreed, as a former server. Not sure why anyone would think bringing in outside food is ok regardless of whether there’s an official prohibition. It’s really rude, and should not be recommended as a solution here.

        1. boo bot*

          Yeah, for real. I actually understand why people might think it’s okay – if they haven’t worked in restaurants or known anyone who has, they’ve probably just never thought about it before.

          But consider going to a bar and bringing your own bottle of whiskey, or going to the theater and watching a movie on your phone with your headphones on. You’re not *technically* interfering with anyone else’s experience, but, come on.

          1. Former Employee*

            Except it’s not the same. They can’t eat the food at the restaurant. So, they either bring their own or don’t eat. It’s completely different from someone going to a bar and bringing something the bar serves, such as a bottle of whiskey.

            1. Curious*

              It should be noted, though, that the keto coworker had some keto options available to her at the restaurant, she just didn’t like them (at least that was my reading of the letter).

            2. FirstTimePosting*

              It depends on state laws. In Minnesota:

              Food prepared or stored in a private home must not be used or offered for human consumption in a food establishment

              1. Little Tin Goddess*

                Federal ADA laws supersede state laws. Per the ADA, outside food needs to be accommodated due to disability, medically necessary food diets, allergies. My daughter is a Celiac. She has to eat gluten free. We will frequently take outside food into restaurants with us, tell mgmt (we aren’t sneaking it in), order her a drink and order our meals. The only times I have asked the waitstaff to heat something up is at expensive buffets and weddings. The restaurant is still making money off us and her in particular is because we make sure she has a drink there.

        2. MatKnifeNinja*

          I know I’m rare, because I’ll tip the waitstaff the price of whatever the average entree is, when I’m allowed to bring my food. I have anaphylaxis to several foods. The servers act like this never ever happens, which shocks me. If the server is bringing me a plate for my food, he’s working.

          You want the waitstaff to become murderous? Schlep your food in, requested plates, bring in your own tea and request hot water. Then leave NOTHING because “the staff didn’t wait on me, and I ordered no food.” People with special dietary needs aren’t all saints, and can be ignorant clods like everyone else.

          Where I live it is next to impossible to bring outside food into a restaurant. I’ve been to weddings were the caterer said no outside food/no guarentee on any food being allergy free. Sometimes you luck out if you call a week ahead of the date you want to come in.

          OP follow Allison’s advice. I have a friend who does keto and IF, and that’s all she talks about. She makes being a good friend really hard at the moment.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            “I’ve been to weddings were the caterer said no outside food/no guarentee on any food being allergy free.”
            WTF? Guess I’ll leave the wedding early to go eat! Thanks, unreasonable caterer, for cutting short my time with my friends!!! *rage*

      3. TootsNYC*

        I have celiac sprue, so I can envision a situation in which I might bring something I could eat–but I sure wouldn’t bring something that required help from anybody.

        If I did ask for help, for some reason (like if I needed a knife or something), I would tip! Heck, I would probably tip even if I just sat there.

        And I’d probably at least order a drink, because I’m not going to pack that–and so I’d be tipping, and I personally have a tipping minimum.

      4. Shay*

        Despite the clarification, I am deeply confused why a wait staff wouldn’t want to serve a 10 person group if 1 person brought their own food due to restrictions. You loose 9 other patrons, and if the company is paying the bill, probably a large and standard tip on that group meal.
        Sure there are other ways around it, but there is something really nice about eating with people, and something still depressing about not being able exist the same way as your peers.

        1. Snark*

          And then another 10 patrons, all of which are paying and tipping, walk in the door 10 minutes later. Very few restaurants are so desperate for patronage that a lost group meaningfully impacts them.

          1. Mitch Starr*

            Even fewer restaurants are operating a full occupancy and would turn down 9 paying customers for the hope of getting 10.

            1. Liv Jong*

              But the servers who make as little as $2.13/hr and survive on tips are given less “covers” (eating, paying patrons at other tables) as a result. The lowest paid person in the room is expected to take the monetary hit.

              I understand what you’re saying, but it is rude to expect that you can just take time from someone who. makes so little. They are still obligated to check on you, bring you a drink, silverware and inquire of your needs. If you must do this please leave a tip and make sure the person making federal tipped wage (less than minimum wage) is compensated.

        2. Massmatt*

          1 out of 10 could be doable but what if it’s a group of 10 with 3 people who are not eating? Now you have your largest table taken and producing little revenue. Many restaurants have a plate fee or minimum for these situations. My partner once worked at a restaurant that provided a lot of freebies, oh the gnashing of teeth by freeloaders outraged they were being charged $3 when they drank the lemon water ate the in-house baked rolls, used the relish, etc.

          Many people just don’t know how to dine out.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          One possible reason: in every place I’ve lived it’s against health code for the restaurant to allow that 1 person to have that outside food in there.

            1. Sadie*

              I have over one hundred food allergies and intolerances. If somewhere can’t accommodate me and I have to go for social bonding, I eat first and then order drinks to join in.

              I would absolutely never take my food into somewhere. It’s rude, violates food standards, risks other people’s allergies and generally draws attention to me over other people in a highly interruptive fashion.

              If sitting with an empty plate is too awkward, I order some fries/rice/bread for the table and set it in front of me to look less bare if I can’t eat it. Then I chip in my share for drinks/fries and tips because at a birthday dinner/work thing the food is incidental to the bonding.

              I’ll ask that no one order anything to the table that kills me but otherwise yes, it blows not to have all the choices but that does not give me license to make it all about me and my diet.

              So I’d say Keto Karen here can suck it up and do the same. Eating out is a luxury not a privilege and I can forgo it not to spend days suffering which will cause me to miss out on more than a group meal.

              As long as the restaurant treats my health needs with respect and appropriate labelling and guidance, then I deal with the disappointment like an adult and sort my own meal out by planning ahead, checking menus or asking my boss to give me an extra 15 minutes to grab food before or after.

              I will bring my own food to office lunches if allowable rather ask people to cater for me if it’s a lot of extra work for them and often do the same at people’s houses or give them ways to serve me similar food to join in as closely as possible such as asking if they could serve chicken with sauce on the side, declining condiments or skipping certain side dishes.

              I’m only one guest at that table after all…

              1. Michaela Westen*

                I don’t agree it’s rude. I’m not rude. I’m lucky to live in a place where it’s not a big deal to take one of the small sandwiches from my purse and eat it with my order (or instead of my order).
                As far as I can tell, no one notices other than the friends I’m with.
                Regarding other allergies, such as to nuts, those risks are present whether I bring my food or not. The restaurant might have nut-containing food already. Other people there may have just come from eating nuts. Those risks are already there.
                At one restaurant I go to regularly to see friends, I talked with the owner for 1/2 hour and we concluded I can’t eat there. He said it would mess up the flow too much for them to fry or bake me a potato, and all the regular menu items either contain allergens, or are prepared in ways I can’t tolerate. He is fine with me bringing my snack and eating it there.
                If I lived in a place with such strict laws and mean restaurant managers, I would be thinking of moving.

              2. Michaela Westen*

                But I agree about Keto Karen. I haven’t done keto myself but from what people are saying here it sounds like it would be easy for her to find things to eat at most restaurants. Assuming she doesn’t have any food allergies that weren’t mentioned.
                Compared to what I go through at restaurants, it would be a walk in the park for her.

    4. Just Elle*

      When I have group outings at restaurants where I can’t eat the food, I just eat beforehand. Its honestly just not a big deal. Half the time no one even notices I’m not eating as long as I don’t make a stink about it.

      And often, they *do* have food I can eat, just not in big enough quantities to actually constitute a meal. So I will get, I don’t know, a side salad or something to pick at – but honestly even that is more for other people’s benefits.

      You can let health conditions define you and bring you down every single time you can’t do something… or you can just go on living your life realizing that restaurant food isn’t really a necessary component to life enjoyment.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is what I do when I’m too broke to buy a meal but have enough to order something to drink. I just say, “I’m happy to join you!” and then eat the lunch I brought from home before I go. Sometimes people just want you to be there.

      2. Shalla*

        Same. I have celiac and am therefore gluten free so I’ll eat before or after and order a drink and/or a little salad (for which I might bring my own dressing) and participate in the social aspects of the meal.

      3. Adalind*

        That’s exactly what my sister does. She is allergic to a lot of things and instead of taking chances where she doesn’t know all the ingredients, she just eats beforehand (this means before everything from run of the mill bday dinners to weddings). It sucks, but she just continues on and doesn’t make a stink about it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice when people can accommodate, but it’s not always feasible. It does make her happy if coworkers think to bring in something special like a cake pop without nuts she can eat.

      4. Librarianne*

        This. At my last job, I was the only one on my team with a (voluntary!) dietary restriction. On the rare days we went out for lunch, I’d either pack some extra food to eat on my break or make a meal of sides at the restaurant. Eating roasted broccoli and potato salad for lunch wasn’t the most exciting meal of my life, but it wasn’t a terrible calamity, either.

        1. JessaB*

          Roasted broccoli sounds good. I’ve never tried it roasted. Do you just put some oil on it, or is there some kind of spices or sauce.

          But yeh, when anyone takes me out somewhere, I check online if I can eat there and if so what, and I order that. It’s not hard. Some places I really cannot eat (Big barbecue places where they cook everything together and have mustard in their rub…) but I even went to one of those and had a salad, but it was like do not touch me you people eating ribs with your fingers, stay away.

          1. Ethyl*

            I usually toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and that’s it. You can even roast frozen broccoli right out of the freezer, it just takes longer :)

          2. C Baker*

            I usually add oil, garlic, and pepper and maybe some parm to my roasted broccoli and/or cauliflower. Sometimes some red pepper flakes as well.

          3. Witty Nickname*

            Olive oil and Penzey’s chip & dip seasoning is the BEST on roasted broccoli.

      5. Amethystmoon*

        Excellent point. I hardly eat at restaurants simply because they’re spendy. It’s not that difficult to learn how to make simple meals at home that taste decent.

      6. Kimberly*

        A good and reasonable solution most of the time. My problem is 2 times I’ve called and checked with a restaurant a work meeting was going to/being catered by and they said nope can’t accommodate you don’t even walk in our doors. A third time I knew the restaurant used peanut oil and lied through their teeth about it being safe. That time the catering was a surprise and I was unable to make arrangements to bring my own food. (norm was we go out to eat on our own). I had to go over people’s heads to get permission to drive 5 min down the road to get a sandwich and come back for the working lunch. Apparently, they had major complaints about people not being able to eat at various workshops around the district and never pulled that stunt again.

      7. Liv Jong*

        As a reply to everyone in this thread, I don’t think you realize what impact you do have. Please do not go out unless you can leave decent tip, I understand you might be broke but eating out is a luxury, me trying to pay my bills is not.

        If you order a $2.50 pop (with a 2 free refills) and leave three dollars after taxes and my food tipout (2% on all food sales) I’ve made $.25 off of you, and I still get to bus your unused silverware, wipe the table and the chair you were in. But that isn’t the big problem.

        The real problem comes from “cover count”, a cover being a patron at a table. I miss out on other covers because you are counted as a cover simply by being there.

        Not only am I not making any money serving you, you are preventing me from making money with someone else.

        I understand you just want to socialize, but it is horrible thing to do to a server. So, please make sure you are leaving a tips as if you did eat.

        1. IndoorCat*

          I don’t think poor people or disabled / diet restricted people are the ones being horrible here, and blaming them is kinda classist and ableist.

          If you’re being underpaid, that’s the fault of whoever is in charge of the pay structure, not the fault of your customers. IIRC, Starbucks baristas start at $9-10 / hour, and get to keep tips on top of that. And at my favorite local place, servers make minimum wage per hour, but again, tips are stacked on top of the hourly rate, the tips aren’t supposed to make up the difference for an hourly rate below legal minimum. It’s very possible to stay in business and pay all your servers fairly!

          Obviously, some places (lots of places?) are shady, lots of restaurant owners and managers exploit the tip / minimum wage loophole. But that’s a good reason to unionize, try to shift norms, or leave this specifically crappy restauraunt to get a job where at least minimum wage is guaranteed rather than left up to customers who have no incentive (or budget) to leave significant tips.

          This is basically why the system works: it tricks one kind of poor person (underpaid servers) into blaming another kind of poor person (someone who orders little or tips “badly” due to their own financial or medical situation) rather than letting them see that people who are struggling can actually work together to change the system to everyone’s betterment.

        2. My name really is Karen*

          I understand that taking up space at a restaurant and not contributing to the business is a crappy thing to do, but where do we draw the line as to the minimum amount I have to estimate as a sufficient meal (and therefore the amount on which to tip)? When the restaurant in question firmly states that the only things on their menu they will serve me in good conscience (based on the risk of cross contamination with all of the crab and shrimp dishes they specialize in) are one kind of soup and the Caesar salad, am I expected to tip as though I ate the crabcake dinner and various apps the table had already ordered? This is not a straw man argument, btw, it’s a real example of a celebration in which the two guests of honor (a kidney donor and recipient) wanted to go to the crab house and skipping it wasn’t a viable option for me because they are both close family members. I ordered the soup and a beer, figured about 20% on top of that and rounded up to the next $5 increment to toss in cash for my share. In other situations, I’ve been part of the “in laws are treating for dinner” thing at places where I cannot safely eat, so I eat ahead of time. Do I need to demand that they tip more to compensate for me taking up space?

    5. frequent diner*

      I agree, I’ve always been told that bringing your own food to a restaurant is in poor taste/generally uncool, even if its not formally against any legal rules.

      Is this not a widely held belief?

      1. CameronT*

        If the entire party is bringing their own food, it’s not okay. If a single individual in the party has severe dietary restrictions necessitating that they bring their own tupperware of food, it’s absolutely no big deal to most restaurants. I have brought food for my toddler to dozens of restaurants over the past 2 years and not once has a single restaurant employee batted an eye.

        (I am only referring to bringing your own cold food to eat at the table. Outside food should never enter the kitchen of a restaurant.)

        1. Perfectly Particular*

          I worked in restaurants for ages, and I have to say, for someone with severe food allergies, I was so relieved when they brought their own food. Depending on the quality of the restaurant, the kitchen staff may not be well trained on allergies, or may not care. Where I worked, the servers received no training on this. For example, I had a table ask if our teriyaki steak contained wheat. I wasn’t sure, so I asked the prep cook, they said no immediately. This didn’t feel right, so I went & found the packaging for the marinade. It definitely contained wheat. If I had taken the cook’s word and served it, I would have gotten NO tip when that person got sick!

          1. Adalind*

            Perfectly Particular – thank you for being conscientious enough to check it out. I worry about my sister when she eats out for this reason. Some people don’t take it seriously. She always carries an EpiPen, but would rather not use it.

      2. Juli G.*

        Never join a Disney group. So many of them could not care less about that concept. And Disney lets you bring your own food into the park itself but people are always like “My family is unsure about the menu so can we bring in our own hot dogs to Cinderella’s Royal Table?”

        1. Little Tin Goddess*

          Disney is fantastic when it comes to offering dietary restricted food in their parks, hotels, etc. They can and do accommodate pretty much anything. So whomever said “we weren’t sure about the menu” did absolutely no research into Disney foods

    6. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I work in NYC and I’ve had quite a few coworkers in my time here that keep very strict kosher. Whenever we did team lunches, the exec assistant would call the restaurants we were considering to see if they would allow outside food for those who keep kosher, and the vast majority said yes, from local places to chains like Benihana. Maybe it’s different based on what the restrictions are?

      1. boo bot*

        I think that asking ahead of time is also key here – there’s a big difference between letting everyone know what’s going on in advance, and pulling out your own sandwich as the appetizers are served.

        1. CynicallySweet*

          This right here! The calling ahead to check is huge (esp if ur making a reservation)! Then it can be noted.. There’s nothing quite like the WTF is happening moment that occur ls when someone pulls Tupperware out of their bag and just starts eating while the others are ordering

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I think the kosher thing is also really region-dependent. It’s basically impossible to accommodate strict kosher as a “one off” thing you cook in a regular kitchen due to the specific nature of the kosher rules (which do well beyond which specific things do and do not end up on the plate at the end, unlike most other sets of dietary rules restaurants are trying to deal with). In places with a lot of people keeping kosher, restaurants have already learned enough about what kosher is to know that they do not want to deal with it in-house but do not want to lose the business by turning those groups away, so they figure out whatever solution works for them. In places with a smaller kosher-keeping population, restaurants haven’t already wrestled with the impossibility of accommodating kosher “in house” and don’t have a plan in place for working around it.

        Where I live, I think hotel caterers and other such venue-type places would probably be able to arrange for a kosher meal that they’d purchase from a kosher establishment and serve you (quite possibly screwing it up along the way, unfortunately) since they’re used to trying to please large groups and have probably dealt with this before once or twice, but I don’t think anyone would let you bring in your own outside food to eat.

        1. Spreadsheets and Books*

          I’m sure this is true. As most people know, NYC has a very high Jewish population and thus many people who keep kosher. Sometimes, we went to kosher restaurants or ordered in from kosher delis to keep our kosher team member included but usually, we ordered a separate meal for him from a kosher restaurant or paid for him to purchase a kosher meal elsewhere and bring it with us if we were having a team celebration. He didn’t even use the restaurant’s cutlery, either, so there was no extra work for servers.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          I don’t know how anyone with food allergies manages to socialize where you live. Can you tell me where it is so I can avoid it?

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Food cart pods work well, because everyone can order from different carts if there’s one specific thing they’re avoiding. I havent’ seen many kosher carts here, but I do see a fair number of halal ones, so it works for most diet if not all (kosher is just…hard to work with in general because there are so many things to keep track of – I’m kind of surprised we don’t have a kosher food cart in the pod in my mom’s neighborhood, though, that’s probably a missed business opportunity for someone).

            I mean, they don’t work well for me because nothing works well for me other than preparing my own food in my own kitchen from scratch, but they work well in general and if you’re eating outside at picnic tables among many food trucks like that I also wouldn’t feel bad eating outside food.

    7. Moocowcat*

      I also found the suggestion to bring food into a restaurant as very strange. It’s common where I am for cafes or restaurants to have a sign stating that outside food or drink is forbidden. How are business supposed to make money if you aren’t ordering? Plus there could be sanitation/licensing factors.
      If I was the dieting coworker, I’d probably eat beforehand and order a cheap beverage.

      1. LJay*

        The businesses can still make money because nobody is advocating that the entire party bring their own food. They are advocating that one person out of a group of 10 people bring their own food, so the restaurant makes money off of the other 9 people who are ordering. If the restaurant doesn’t allow 9 people to order and 1 to bring in their own food, then instead of making money off of the 9 people they make money off of nobody when the whole group goes somewhere that can accommodate the dietary needs.

        As long as the food isn’t going into the kitchen or being served to other people there generally are not sanitation, licencing issues either. (This could vary by state.)

        Though I do agree. I would feel weird enough bringing my own food that I just wouldn’t do it. I’d either eat before-hand or just opt out.

        (And having done keto, most places can make a meal to meet a keto diet. Protein without any sauces, and vegetables. Salad with no croutons and certain types of dressing. I definitely know of some places that probably couldn’t. But so many can that I can’t see keto as an excuse for bringing your own food the same way that severe food allergies or keeping kosher might.

        1. Jasnah*

          I think the issue is that if a restaurant allows some outside food/drink, everyone who wants to smuggle in their own food now claims to have an allergy and now you have half a table not ordering food just to be cheap. Then someone at the next table has an allergic reaction to the food they brought in and the restaurant is in trouble.

          I’ve rarely been to a restaurant that allows you to bring in food. Most can accommodate common allergies and dietary restrictions but I think if you have really severe or complicated dietary requirements, you kinda just have to accept that not everyone can cater to your rules and food is going to be on you to figure out.

    8. Venus*

      If the atmosphere is reasonable (quiet location) then we have gone to food courts to meet as a work group. They allowed outside food.

      1. Leaving for Paris*

        Yes foos cart pods if your area has them can be great. We use them at my work often.

    9. Scarlet*

      Yep. Came here to say this. Alison’s advice is great as always, but LW’s coworker might run into trouble bringing their own food in.

    10. Michaela Westen*

      As someone who is allergic to soy and several other things, there are restaurants that have nothing I can eat and I have to bring my own food to enjoy social time with my friends. I really hope this rule wouldn’t apply in this case.
      One of my friends is allergic to soy and she has also encountered restaurants where there was nothing she could eat.

      1. Real_Ale*

        Except in an emergency, and boy would that be a quick download. Hope there’s not a queue….

        1. Hlyssande*

          And quesedillas… downloadable food in general, like a food dispenser/replicator in sci fi…

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I laughed really hard at the picture in my head of Reindeer Hut’s employee uniforms.

  2. Crivens!*

    If I never near a Keto-by-choice* person proselytize about their diet again, it’ll be too soon. I just do not understand where the urge comes from to be so pushy about insisting your food choices should apply to everyone else. I’ve been dealing with stomach troubles for awhile now and if one more person swears I’ll be better if I stop eating gluten or sugar or whatever I’ll scream.

    *Or really any person on any diet, Keto just seems to be the one people seem to not be able to shut up about currently.

    1. ScienceLady*

      It’s the inverse of Fight Club – first rule of Keto is that you must talk about Keto.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I have 4 people in my life doing Keto and IF. I’d rather hear non stop new parent talk instead. And I’m not a fan of new parent talk.

        I’m honestly limiting my time around them, because the negative food talk is a boring as hell.

        All for healthy life style choices and feeling better, but quit beating me over the head with it.

        1. Midge*

          This is the very reason that I decided to tell as few people as possible that I was doing Whole30! I’ve made it almost to the end and only told 3 people. Pretty proud of myself, and I’m sure my family and coworkers appreciate not hearing about it ad nauseum!

      2. kinvitation*

        Actually, I participate in a really large keto group, and we tell people *all the dang time* that the first rule of keto is *”don’t talk about keto”*. I’m pretty sure we get (in terms of unwelcome dietary advice) at least as good as we give (in giving unwanted dietary advice) – which is why most of the ketoers I know recommend *not* talking about it.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Just as bad as crossfit and the people who think yoga is the cure for every illness, I swear. It’s like a friggin religion.

        1. Justme, The OG*

          See also: vegans, iPhone users, and Doctor Who fans (I happen to belong to two of these groups, lest anyone think I am being deliberately mean).

            1. MissDisplaced*

              My iPhone became a tiny TARDIS.
              Full blue case + wrap + Ten on the screen saver!

          1. C Baker*

            Idk, I’ve never seen a vegan push veganism on people, but I’ve seen a heck of a lot of non-veg*ns complain in the most obnoxious way about veg*ns.

            (And I eat plenty of meat, so I like to think I’m not biased here.)

            1. Long Time Fed*

              I wish I could say the same, but most of the vegans I know or have met have been preachy and more than a little condescending.
              I’m vegetarian, not vegan, but apparently I’m still making the animals suffer.

              1. Not sayin'*

                As a former vegan, I can attest that vegans can be royal pains in the ass about their diet, and incredibly judgmental of those who do not follow it. I withdrew from several vegan groups because it was just… painful to be around them.

            2. Lissa*

              I think the thing with that is that those who are pushy have many many opportunities to bring it up – I know more non-pushy vegans but the ones who are really spread it around to as many people as they can so it seems like one pushy person is actually like, five people.

              1. CynicallySweet*

                +100. Most ppl I know who are vegan are perfectly innocuous about it… But there’s that one who so insistently won’t shut up about it that their behavior has started to taint the whole grp bc I feel like it’s all I hear about when I have to talk to them (which is often set work together)

            3. Massmatt*

              Mine is the absolute reverse of that experience. Few people seem to care if someone is vegan, some vegans (maybe newer converts?) seem to make a real point of denouncing meat, etc.

              The anti-gluten trend is out of control. I’m not talking about people with celiac and other actual diseases but the many obvious bandwagon hoppers that have latched on to this “gluten is poisonous!” nonsense. Many don’t have any idea what gluten IS. Now we are seeing gluten free water.

              1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

                As someone who watched the gluten-free people pass over their GF meals for the main option of breaded deep fried chicken I feel your pain.

              2. Susan Calvin*

                I agree in spirit (people being Weird About Food Choices and bad science are two of my top pet peeves), but feel compelled to point out that gluten (and other allergens) can come up in many, many places you wouldn’t expect, even if just by way of a shared processing site, and having clear labeling can be a blessing – e.g. for someone I know who can only use explicitly gluten free mascara unless she wants her eyes to swell shut.

            4. Play A Doctor On TV*

              Ugh, I eat a mostly plant based diet and have serious thoughts about animal cruelty and I’ve had to leave every vegan Facebook group I’ve ever joined. It seems to attract a subset of toxic people who just use it to be awful (and it’s not limited to veganism, for sure!) I’m so happy that vegan food is becoming trendy despite that, and am happy to have some awesome vegan friends.

          2. Coder von Frankenstein*

            At least the Doctor Who fans have fun with it, though. I have a friend with a bumper sticker on his car that says, “My other TARDIS is a police box.”

      1. Mike*

        It’s a certain personality type. If they hadn’t “found” yoga or religion or whatever they’d be gushing about the wonders of amway.

    3. Feline*

      Hear, hear! I have been known to tell proselytizers that I have not joined the Cult of Keto (or the Cult of Weight Watchters, or the Cult of Atkins…). There probably isn’t a tone of voice that makes this polite, but I try for non-confrontational and as gentle as possible. It usually gives me enough of an opening to escape the conversation and get back to work.

    4. Ramanon*

      Oooh, Keto tends to make people behave awfully. It was designed as a medical diet for people with certain sorts of seizure disorders, because the way it functions impacts the brain (although it also has impacts on diabetes, although I think it only helps one type, and even the other type needs to go on it with caution), and NOT as an actual or sustainable weight-loss diet. When people do it outside of the assistance of a doctor, they get so horrible to be around.

      I mean, anyone can pick a hill to die on, but Keto’s the one diet I know of where people undergo pretty noticeable personality shifts.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I think we should probably try not to comment on other people’s food preferences. I have been keto for three years and find it incredibly sustainable. I say this not to get into an argument about the science or efficacy of this (or any) way of eating, but rather to make the point that any comments on diet are unwelcome, just as this coworker’s comments about non-keto eating are unwelcome.

            1. Ramanon*

              What, the brain part or the personality part? Brain impacts are from “Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel,” although the article talks primarily about the Keto diet in pediatric epilepsy. The “International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders : Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity” also has an article about cognitive impacts, although that’s more in the realm of task-based rather than personality-based, and is strictly in the realm of Keto diets without medical oversight. It’s pretty cool reading, if you’re interested, although I think the second article might have been something I bought.

              Personality is just anecdotal on my end, though. Family does a lot of crash dieting, and everyone I’ve talked to has told me that all the screaming and plate-throwing is really just normal for folks on Keto. Can’t control the dieting, so I just hope they find something else soon.

              1. jenkins*

                I eat keto, the only people who know this are my immediate family and two closest friends (because I go out to eat with them), and there really hasn’t been any screaming or plate-throwing. I get that you know people who behave badly but please, no, that is not ‘just normal for folks on keto’.

              2. Thany*

                You might be referring to the keto flu, which is the initial 2 weeks on keto when your body adjusts to being in ketosis. Irritability is a known symptom, and my husband definitely gets more irritable during those two weeks. But once you get through the first two weeks, the irritability is gone.

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Wow, try not to poke anyone’s eye out with that broad brush you’re waving around.

      3. BelleMorte*

        Wow, rude. I do get why people overshare about diets, exercise, their current obsession, their kids, because it’s their obsession at the time so it’s what they focus on. However, saying they behave awfully as a blanket statement, is well.. awful.

        For any diet, it is fairly all-consuming, you end up with a lot of comments on what you are eating so you often head it off at the pass. In full disclosure, I’m doing keto right now, and it has actually been sustainable for two years so far, and honestly I am not doing it for the weight loss, I’m doing it because it resolved all my digestive issues, and got rid of my blood sugar induced migraines. So saying that it makes people behave awfully is just rude and short-sighted. People need to find a way of eating that works for them.

        I’ve seen plenty of people who eat all sorts of things behave awfully and I don’t blame the fact that they need a snickers, I blame their personality.

    5. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      I identify with this on a molecular level. I have a sensitive stomach, and every time someone suggests I cut out some normal, reasonably healthy, tried-and-it-wasn’t-the-problem food or food group, I want to rip my hair out. My stomach is just like this! I am very active and physically require carbs in my diet to not perish from malnutrition! Sometimes rice is the only thing I can eat! Let me eat occasional ice cream or whatever in peace.

  3. Clorinda*

    Out of curiosity, I just searched ‘keto snacks’ and there are literally hundreds of options. It should be very easy to accommodate her. I have a feeling that if keto snacks are always available, you’ll hear a lot less keto evangelizing.

    1. Clorinda*

      Also, any restaurant should be able to serve her something that follows keto rules. It’s basically meat, hold the carbs. My 30-second internet search suggests burgers with no guns, among other things.

        1. blackcat*

          I LOL’ed so hard at this, partly because I can imagine some 30 second internet search leading to really strange conclusions….

      1. Cat*

        Yeah, I have a hard time believing she couldn’t have ordered something from the Italian place – most have second courses with protein or appetizers that are, like, just meatballs.

        1. Fulano de Tal*

          This, precisely. What OP is dealing with is an insufferable “keto” evangelist (see, also, gluten free)

        2. New Job So Much Better*

          Olive Garden now serves Zoodles, which are noodles made of zucchini instead of pasta.

          1. Shad*

            The carb standards for Keto are apparently so unreasonably low you can’t even eat fruit and veggies without planning your entire day’s consumption around the carbs they contain.

            1. Keto Vegetarian*

              I mean, I eat like literally 4 giant salads a day and stay in ketosis… so that’s not entirely fair to say.

              But, yeah, often zoodles are a mean trap because the sauces topping them are made with flour.

              1. RabbitRabbit*

                As a standard vegetarian, being able to keto it blows my mind. (And unfortunately I’d have to give up so many of my favorite foods.)

                1. Keto Vegetarian*

                  I check my blood ketone level regularly. I’m doing keto for medical reasons so it’s something I need to monitor very closely. Since vegetables are low glycemic, it’s often possible for me to stay above 1 mmol/L eating as much as 30-40 net carbs. This of course, provided all of those carbs are from low glycemic foods like the veggies, I space out carbs throughout the day, I eat them with fat to slow digestion, and I avoid artificial sweeteners. Etc etc. Oh, and exercise.

            2. Mia*

              Nah, non-starchy veggies are essentially “free foods” on basically all low carb diets, including Keto. The coworker could 100% eat zoodles and be totally fine macro-wise.

            3. LJay*

              That’s not true generally.

              Keto cares about Net Carbs, not total carbs. So veggies have carbs, but they also have enough fiber to counteract them. You could easily have 5 servings of veggies a day if you’re not taking in a ton of carbs from other areas.

              Fruits are harder but still doable.

        3. PMP*

          Highly doubt meatballs at a restaurant are keto as they most definitely contain flour and would make you sick as a dog. Also, as someone with celiacs who has also done keto for fitness competitions, I can say you can only eat so many salads when everyone else is horking down pizza, fries, pasta, etc…how about a bbq place or mexican restaurant where I can easily modify something and you know, enjoy it?

        4. Librarianne*

          I was thinking the same thing. My brother-in-law is keto and I’m vegetarian, but somehow we manage to eat out together fairly regularly…

        5. nonegiven*

          Pretty sure meatballs have too much carb and also, any sauce in any (American) Italian restaurant.

          1. LJay*

            Olive garden meatballs have 11 carbs, 10 net. Not great for keto but not impossible to fit in. (What else you’d have with the meatballs though depends.)

            Keto as many people do it doesn’t make anything off-limits, you just need to fit it into your net carbs for the day which is like 20 or 25 carbs. So the meatballs would be half.

            Alfredo sauce would be another 8 carbs. So you can’t eat much else that day and stay within your allotment. But then your’re also looking at over 1000 calories in that one meal which means that by caloric intake many people couldn’t eat too much more and stay within their allotment either.

        6. Batgirl*

          I can’t eat gluten, so a lot of my restaurant meals are keto-esque; I frikkin love Italian restaurants. I get aubergine parmesan, a chicken Caesar, or order off the meat or fish menu with a side of veggies. My fave starter is grilled asparagus wrapped in ham with a poached egg.

        7. Seeking Second Childhood*

          FWIW many if not most commercially prepared meatballs have significant starch and egg as filler & binder.
          (I was perhaps overly relieved to be given the green light to eat wheat again, considering I was with front of my niece who can not…)

      2. PopJunkie42*

        I have a ton of friends who are doing Keto and it can be slightly challenging but not so bad if you’re willing to do veggies + protein. So, a salad with ranch dressing and chicken (hold the croutons), or plain/Parmesan wings, or basically any protein main dish with vegetables for a side. There is not an abundance of options but you should be able to find at least 1-2 things at any restaurant or make a combination of side dishes!

        1. Barefoot Librarian*

          Agreed. I’ve been eating Keto for about a year and a half and I eat out frequently. I can almost always order some leafy greens and a burger (no bun) or a piece of non-breaded chicken. It shouldn’t be extra work for the people I’m with to accommodate my restrictions. And honestly, if I couldn’t recover from eating a bloody crouton from time to time I’d be in trouble lol.

      3. Arielle*

        A lot of fast food places will even do a burger in a lettuce wrap for you. In-n-Out’s version is particularly good.

      4. Michael Valentine*

        I’m totally telling my keto-following husband to order his burgers with no guns. That was amazing.

      5. LSLY*

        Depending on how strict the Keto diet is, burgers (or any foods requiring a binding ingredient) aren’t always a surefire bet, because those binding ingredients might contain hidden carbs. For instance, there are certain burgers whose main binding ingredient are wheat or flour – this would be a problem for people who are gluten intolerant/free, or Keto.

        In my opinion, accommodating EVERYONE’S dietaries is pretty unrealistic. If someone is Celiac, or if they have a severe allergy, it’s really up to them to police themselves. They’ll know better than the organizers anyway about what they can/can’t eat. I honestly feel that if an event organizer puts their best efforts towards accommodating people’s dietaries and generally makes people feel like they’ve been thought of, that should be enough, and people can take it from there.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          As a celiac, I disagree. It is part of an event organizer’s role to accept dietary accommodation requests, and work with the restaurant/caterer to find suitable options. It’s totally fine to put that back on the requester, like to send them the menu and ask what they can have, but the answer isn’t just to throw up your hands and say “oh well, can’t please everyone so might as well not try”.

          I guess I’m not sure how an event organizer can put their “best efforts” and “make people feel thought of” without making sure everyone can eat at least something?

          I’m also really bristling at your use of the term “police”. Yes, I do know what I can eat and don’t expect the entire meal to be 100% gluten free, but I do absolutely expect to have something that won’t make me sick. I’m sure my vegan/lactose intolerant/nut-allergic friends feel the same.

          (Yes, this is a sensitive topic for me!)

          1. DataGirl*

            My employer just did a huge event for new hires and as the person with the most restrictions (multiple food allergies, Kosher) they asked me to review the menus and make sure there was at least one item at each meal I could eat, in the theory that this would cover most people’s restrictions. It still kinda sucks when the one thing is say, a fruit bowl or a salad (cheese, croutons, nuts, dressing etc on the side) but the point is there are ways to be inclusive. At the same time though I do understand and expect that not every meal out/catered is going to work for me and that’s fine, it’s just the way it goes when you have severe restrictions.

          2. KHB*

            Yeah, I agree. I can’t eat “best efforts,” so if your “best efforts” don’t involve being 100% sure that I’ll be accommodated, what good is that to me? If the event organizer can’t, actually, accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions, they should at least be upfront about that with those people in advance. It’s really pretty awful when they promise you that you’ll have something to eat, and then you turn up and find out that that’s not actually the case.

            1. HannahS*

              I’d agree that communication is key. If there isn’t going to be anything for me to eat, tell me in advance! The worst thing I’ve had is when I showed up without a lunch to a catered event where I was volunteering and had shared my food restrictions in advance, and there was not one single thing that I could eat. Like, not even plain lettuce or bread or an apple. I don’t mind if the answer is no, but it feels awful when someone tells you they’ll be feeding you and then when you get there, it’s not true.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                Honestly, with my dietary restrictions being more of an art form than anything else, I just keep a bag of beef jerky and a bag of kitkats with me at all times. I often faint if I don’t get fed, and it’s just easier to assume that no one’s going to take the time to work with my dietary restrictions than it is to foot the ambulance bill when I faint down the stairs.

                1. Trisha*

                  As your manager, if I knew that those were your “safe foods”, I’d have a stash of the same for you at any event. People can always accommodate, it just may not be in the same way for every issue.

                2. KoiFeeder*

                  Ah, not working yet- just graduated! It’s reassuring to hear that the workplace might be more accommodating than school, though.

              2. LJay*

                Ugh, entirely food restriction unrelated, but this reminds me of the worst boss I ever had.

                I was working in a retail adjacent area, in a kiosk in the middle of an outlet mall. Nothing else was around the outlet mall really so the only option to eat at on your break was the food court unless you brought food from home.

                For black friday, my boss told me and the other girl working that she was going to bring us food from home for lunch because she knew that the food court was going to be crazy busy, and to show her appreciation for our hard work.

                She brought nothing. And didn’t let us take longer breaks to account for the line at the foodcourt. So we didn’t get to eat that day. She was barely even apologetic about it.

                That is no small part of why she is the worst boss I’ve ever had. (The other reason is she fired all of us shortly after that for not making our sales goals. Which, just maybe, if your entire team isn’t meeting the sales goals then it’s not the individuals that are the problem, it’s that the goals are too high or the training they received sucked or something).

            2. Observer*

              True. But you do have to be realistic. I say this as someone who has some wacky restrictions that make it hard to eat a lot of catered food.

              But, I DO appreciate a heads up about what will be served so I can properly prepare.

          3. Colette*

            I think a balance is necessary. If people have different requirements, the organizer should definitely attempt to accommodate them. However, sometimes it is so difficult as to be unworkable. (If you have a vegan, someone who keeps kosher, someone with celiac disease, and someone who can’t eat peppers/tomatoes/nuts, I suspect it would be very difficult to find a place that could accommodate everyone.) And you need a place that is familiar with food issues and able to handle them. I can’t eat peppers, and I went to a conference where they said “oh, so many people can’t eat peppers that we made sure we didn’t bring any” – and at least 3 foods contained peppers (e.g. salsa).

            Having said that, they should offer to work with the people with dietary issues to find a solution. Maybe they order in from multiple places (as Alison suggested). Maybe the people affected can be asked to work together to choose a restaurant that can accommodate all of them. Maybe the business moves to other activities instead of lunch.

          4. blink14*

            I organize catering for workshops (I’m at a university), and while we try to accommodate food allergies/dietary needs, sometimes we just can’t. Gluten free is a tough one because the on campus caterers can provide meals with gluten free ingredients, but they are not prepared in a gluten free kitchen.

            We can’t provide kosher or halal meals, because to do so would require a significant amount of money and logistics to bring those meals in from off campus, nor could we fully cater from those restaurant options, because of the costs.

            What I do is order 3 vegetarian options, 1 beef, 1 chicken, and 1 turkey option (all sandwiches or wraps), and people can request dietary accommodations – we can handle vegan requests or gluten free, but I would encourage anyone with celiac to bring their own meal, to be safe. It’s really hard to cover all the bases.

            1. Trisha*

              Have you thought about purchasing some sealed, wrapped items? Although not an ideal alternative, there are lots of gluten free or kosher items (like Lara bars, clif bars, kasha) and fresh fruit. It may not be the sandwich or wrap you’re thinking of but it would ensure that people have something to enjoy.

          5. nonegiven*

            I’m not sure it’s even possible for an Italian restaurant to avoid cross contamination with gluten free options.

            1. Anax*

              Yeah, I think that would be prohibitively difficult. Any kitchen where flour might get into the air is a problem, from what I’ve been told – and even sharing dishes requires a ton of care. Celiac is a hard one to accommodate.

        2. Psyche*

          Getting upset that someone chooses not to go to a group meal where all they can eat is salad is also pretty unrealistic. If you aren’t going to try to accommodate people, don’t get upset when they decide not to go watch you eat.

          1. Keto Vegetarian*

            Honestly…. why is “all you can eat is a salad” so horrifyingly unacceptable as to make it appropriate to abscond from a work lunch? Salads can be really enjoyable. Listen, part of being on a diet is that you don’t get to eat all the yummy things. In fact, one of the most important parts of it is learning to enjoy new foods you used to not think of as yummy.
            You don’t get to insist on not eating all the yummy things, and then be mad you can’t eat all the yummy things.

            1. Annika*

              I really don’t like salads much. I almost never find them very enjoyable. I prefer a hot meal. HOWEVER, I will eat a salad if that is that I can eat with my restrictions (vegetarian). They are my restrictions and I own it. I will also call the restaurant ahead of time to see if they can make me something if I don’t see anything on the menu. Many of them will accommodate you if you contact them ahead of time.

            2. Tacos are a food group I can't eat because my waistline loves them too much*

              “You don’t get to insist on not eating all the yummy things, and then be mad you can’t eat all the yummy things.”

              Exactly! I’m on a weight loss program. Please notice that I started that previous sentence with the word “I’m”. My co-workers aren’t on a weight loss program. I shouldn’t expect them to change their eating habits or bend over backwards to accommodate mine simply because I’ve chosen to be on this program. That’s not fair. I agree that dietary accommodations should be made for allergies and health issues, but that’s where my line is drawn. Salads are on almost every menu. If you’re voluntarily vegetarian, gluten fee (without the medical issue), vegan, Keto, paleo, WW, or what-have-you – your lunch might not be exciting that one day. It sucks, but that’s life. It’s not always fair.

            3. Elitist Semicolon*

              Salads can be delightful, but if the restaurant doesn’t do salads well (or at all), then staying in the office to eat a sandwich might well be preferable to watching other people enjoy their taco plates while you pick at your wilted lettuce and one wrinkly grape tomato and fend off questions about whether that’s all you’re getting.

              (Also for me, at least, part of the fun of going out to lunch is to eat something I don’t/can’t make at home, so if the one thing on the menu that I can eat is the same thing that I make for dinner three times a week, that’s not a treat. Especially if they don’t do that one thing very well.)

            4. DataGirl*

              As someone who is often in the ‘all I can eat is a salad’ category- sometimes I just really want a hot meal. And sometimes the salad has additional things in it I can’t eat: case in point, the visiting restaurant of the day at my office today was salads: 1 had apple, 1 had corn, 1 had croutons- all things I’m allergic to, leaving me a single choice (none were vegetarian so if that was a requirement for me there wouldn’t have been that one). The salads were pre-packaged so it’s not like I could ask for accommodations.

              1. Keto Vegetarian*

                But that’s where I draw the line between dietary restriction and preference. I also don’t really like Asian food… But just because I don’t prefer it over a different option, doesn’t mean no one in my office should ever get to enjoy Asian food. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and go to the place that will make 90% of the office happy, and accept that your meal will be an adequate-but-not-thrilling salad.

                In general I treat work lunch more as mandatory socialization and less as a treat. There’s like maybe 2 restaurants in town that make food I’m actually excited to eat and fit my restrictions… So when I want a treat, I go there as a night out with my husband. I don’t try to force the free work lunch into a very narrow list of ideal food choices.

                1. DataGirl*

                  You have 100% misunderstood my comment and frankly your attitude is really rude.

                  1. Not ‘ideal food choices’ but things that will make me go into anaphylactic shock or have a horrible intestinal reaction
                  2. If you are just commenting on ‘sometimes I want something hot’ then I never said I wouldn’t go somewhere that just has salads. It’s just sometimes a bummer when that’s the only option.

              2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Datagirl, I read it that keto veg was agreeing and expounding on what you said.

            5. Colette*

              I can’t eat peppers, so Tex-Mex places are really hard for me. I can usually find a salad that is OK, but it’s not usually great, and, since I’m paying for my own lunch, I’d prefer not to spend my money on a meal that I’m not going to enjoy.

              If the business is paying, a salad may be better than nothing, but if the employees are paying their own way, a $8 side salad may not be the way they want to go.

              1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                I am also allergic to peppers, as well as being a vegetarian. I basically don’t go to Tex-Mex places. Theoretically, I can probably have a tortilla with cheese on it and sometimes I will for the sake of group harmony if the ventilation is such that I can breathe in there, but basically any other cuisine is more possible for me. I don’t tend to trust cut non-pepper veggies in places that use a lot of peppers because I worry that they may get cross-contaminated on the cutting board (particularly in places with tiny kitchens), so I don’t order salads in those places either.

                I basically have an idea what the “least obnoxious off-menu item” is by genre of restaurant and generally read the menu, look to see if that thing or something else that looks promising is actually on it, and if not ask nicely if they can make it for me due to my inability to eat the actual menu options. For “American food” places if they serve breakfast all day I go for eggs and potatoes and if not I ask for a grilled cheese sandwich, and for most varieties of Asian food I see if I can get steamed veggies with no peppers and plain rice, for example (the goal is to ask for something really easy for them to fix and that basically consists of something already on their menu, just more boring, so as to not be more demanding or disruptive than I have to be). Tex-Mex is hardest because I can’t eat the rice due to peppers so there’s basically no safe “filler” starch or protein since the beans will often have lard and/or peppers as well.

                Left to my own devices at home, I can eat lots of things, but restaurants are no fun. I end up ordering some variety of bland cheese and starch most of the time.

            6. Psyche*

              I agree that she shouldn’t be mad about people eating things she can’t, but why get upset if she doesn’t join them for a meal? It seems like a win win to me.

        3. zapateria la bailarina*

          do people really use a binding ingredient in their burgers? mine are just meat and spices and assumed that’s what i get at restaurants. now i’m curious!

          1. Jaid*

            Eggs, breadcrumbs, cornstarch, flour…

            Hell, I don’t make burgers, I just eat ’em.

          2. Laufey*

            Especially when restaurants only have a food margin of 2-5% and binding agents are cheaper than 100% meat.

        4. Cherries on top*

          Sadly “can’t accommodate everyone” is used quite liberally. I’m a vegetarian and I’ve heard it so many times. If you can’t even accommodate that you are not trying. Also bread or pasta (nothing added) is not a meal. Nor is “just pick out the meat/crums/cheese” a helpful thing. And I am not calling your food disgusting or you amoral because I don’t eat what you eat. End of rant. People are weird.

      6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Yep! I’ve been keto for three years (and gluten free my whole life), and my job requires frequent meals with clients. I’ve never had a problem finding something to eat, even if just a salad. This person sounds difficult but it’s not because of her diet!

        1. Observer*

          She definitely sounds difficult. But the OP is better of taking her at her word – I can see a lot of places where this could be a lot harder than others. And it’s not really the point. The point is that she needs to cut out being rude and commenting on people’s food choices. And she needs to help the OP find places that she is confident will work for her so that she can be accommodated at least on some of the lunches.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            “The point is that she needs to cut out being rude and commenting on people’s food choices. ”

            1000%, this is unbelievable obnoxious!

            1. Kat in VA*

              I work with two guys who do keto. Other than saying, “No, thank you” to the snacks I have in a bowl on my desk (things like fruit leather and Kind minis), they’ve been incredibly un-obnoxious about it.

              They were also incredibly grateful when the snack bowl was expanded to include keto-friendly jerky sticks and baked cheese snacks because now they can have a snack too.

              I’m guessing I should be really happy about this. (My workplace in general, while hectic, is full of really lovely people and is decidedly un-toxic).

              I can’t imagine these guys going EWWW THAT’S NASTY while seeing me chow down on a taco salad or a burger and fries. Who does that? How rude is that? Lemme eat my carb, sugar n’ fat bombs in peace and I won’t bug you about whatever it is that keeps you in ketosis, mkay?

      7. Observer*

        Maybe – and maybe not. It’s not always as simple as it seems. For instance a lot of people are talking abut burgers, except that many restaurant burgers are actually NOT keto ok, since they have a fair amount of binder / filler which is generally a starch. Same for things like tuna salad.

        On top of that restaurant personnel will often make promises that are simply not based in fact. I’ve got some diet restrictions and there are a couple of places I simply won’t eat at. Period. Because they consistently promise that my order will not have X, and then it does. And it’s not always visible, so I find out by getting sick.

        Not fun.

        1. Keto Vegetarian*

          I mean, I get your point. But I’m on an extremely strict ketogenic diet for health reasons, AND I’m a vegetarian. I measure my blood ketone level frequently because of the strictness… and I have no issues eating at restaurants and staying in ketosis. Sure, a burger might have hidden ingredients. But it is really, really hard to hide carbs in a salad with olive oil / vinegar as a dressing (I just make them bring me the bottle to apply myself because vinagrettes are a LIE).
          I’d argue celiac or other serious allergy is a way, way tougher thing to accommodate than keto, because carbs dust won’t kick you out of ketosis but merely being prepped in an area with trigger foods present is enough to cause allergic reactions.

          Is a salad the most enjoyable meal to eat every time you eat out? No. But you can let health conditions define you and bring you down every single time you can’t do something… or you can just go on living your life realizing that restaurant food isn’t really a necessary component to life enjoyment.

          1. Observer*

            Sure, but you actually don’t know what medical condition(s) the coworker may have. The fact that the OP thinks that it’s “voluntary” doesn’t mean much. And again, a lot depends on the restaurants in the area. The issue is not that salads are not the best lunch option always, but that the OP assumes that the place will have salads, which is NOT a given, and that there will be an edible salad that will meet the needs to the coworker, which is also not a given even if they do have salads.

            The OP will be in a much better place to shut down the obnoxious behavior (complaining about the snacks and personal food people bring really is out of line!) if they stick to that rather than trying to tell someone what they can and cannot eat.

      8. Arya Snark*

        Exactly. I’m not strict keto but I am actively avoiding carbs. Just this morning, I got a lunch menu for a workshop I’ll be attending next week. It’s a fancy pants sandwich shop with a pretty small menu and I still easily found something I could happily eat without compromising my diet.

      9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Seriously. Restaurants have done ‘no carb’ options since Atkins came around years ago. Even fast food is easy to customize.

        1. Observer*

          Sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s not. It’s really out of line to insist that this person doesn’t know what she can eat. We know she’s obnoxious, but nothing the OP has said indicates that she doesn’t know how her diet works.

      10. Elizabeth West*

        Tons of places do this now. They offer burgers with lettuce wraps, or you can leave off the bun entirely. I see it all over the place.

      11. Madame Tussaud*

        I’m Keto, and have never had a problem finding food anywhere. Plus, I don’t give a rat’s behind what other people are eating. So she needs to knock it off and quit giving the Keto crowd a bad name.

      12. TootsNYC*

        My mom lost a ton of weight on the Atkins diet, and she said fast food places were the easiest–burger with no bun.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Honestly, I suspect she’d still kvetch about having to see and smell all the non-keto stuff that she’s not letting herself eat.

      I’ve dieted, too, and it was on me not to make my coworkers feel guilty about their chorizo breakfast tacos.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Same. I’ve been on WW for a few months and have made it through multiple work lunches without complaining.

        1. Tacos are a food group I can't eat because my waistline loves them too much*

          Yep! Me too. In fact, yesterday was the first day someone in the office even noticed that I was eating differently. I don’t talk about it. I don’t preach to others. I don’t comment on others food. That’s why it went unnoticed. I do kindly say no thank you to treats people bring in and eat salad when the office has a catered lunch, but that’s the extent of talking about it.

        1. A New Commenter*

          It’s rare an internet comment makes me heartily laugh out loud anymore, but this one did

    3. Black Bellamy*

      It’s probably not the lack of options for her. It’s just that she made the perfect choice and became an elevated being and doesn’t understand why everyone else is not following her shining path.

      1. AMT*

        Yeah, I’m going to say that even if there were a wealth of keto-friendly snacks and food options, she would still find some way to beat people over the head with it.

      2. Former Employee*

        Was the phrase “shining path” chosen on purpose?

        The reason I ask is that’s the name of the Communist Party of Peru. They terrorized the Peruvian countryside trying to get the local villagers go along with their extremist philosophy in their attempts to foment a revolution.

        In Spanish, Shining Path is Sendero Luminoso.

        1. Welp*

          Was the word “foment” chosen on purpose?

          The reason I ask is that it means to instigate or stir up (an undesirable or violent sentiment or course of action) and also means to bathe (a part of the body) with warm or medicated lotions.

          In Latin, foment is fomentare.

      3. Dana B.S.*

        That’s my impression as well. And by just being around *pasta* and – I can barely even say it – *BREAD BASKETS* – it will tempt her away from this shining path which will mean she is no longer better than everyone.

    4. smoke tree*

      Perhaps this is my willful keto ignorance talking, but I thought the whole point of keto is that you still eat meat and cheese and other things that a lot of people find tasty? I can see someone snapping if they were eating wilted spinach and egg whites for every meal, but maybe she should just lay in a store of beef jerky to vent her frustration on.

      1. an infinite number of monkeys*

        It’s funny you landed on beef jerky, because it’s actually not very keto-friendly (most varieties are cured with sugar and have lots of carbs).

        That said, though, I’m doing sort of a “lite” keto and I’ve had no trouble whatsoever finding stuff I could eat. I can eat around the potatoes and rice, take the burger off the bun, skip bread and croutons, and fill up on… just about everything else? I could see an Italian restaurant being a bit of a challenge, but I’m sure they have something on the menu that I could work with.

        1. smoke tree*

          Haha, yeah, I’ll admit that I’m a diehard carb enthusiast and I really don’t know much about how keto works. Maybe substitute cheese slices in there. My general point was that it doesn’t really seem to be a self-denial oriented diet, so her attitude strikes me as a bit odd. Or maybe I’ve just gotten that impression from the various keto recipes I’ve come across.

          1. Anax*

            It’s more of a self-denial thing than it sounds. You can make almost anything… but it won’t be quite the same.

            That can be tough, because a lot of people have really strong emotions about childhood comfort foods, and in the US, those foods are usually super carb-heavy – macaroni and cheese, baked potatoes, lasagna, fresh bread, PB&J, etc. And when you’ve had a bad day and you really want something Just Like Mom Used To Make, it’s hard not to be able to have it, and to maybe never be able to have it again.

            But yeah, keto food is pretty great – sometimes time-consuming to make, sometimes a little complicated to order at restaurants, but no real loss unless you’re craving something very specific and carby.

            (I’m not keto, but my GF is, and I get all the sad looks when I eat potatoes. Meanwhile, I’m downing my third mug of gatorade for the day, because bodies are complex and terrible beasts.)

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I’m the garbage disposal who, if your bun is toasted, will happily eat it for you.

        3. TootsNYC*

          and most “real” restaurants are more than happy to grill/broil a chicken breast without breading it, or putting a sauce on it. Even Italian ones.

      2. Kendra*

        Even spinach & egg whites are pretty tasty if you have them in the form of an omelette, and you can get quite a bit of variety in there by mixing in different veggies and seasonings, and still stay diet-friendly (and not just keto, either; that would do fine for a lot of diets).

        And now I need to go find some really tough beef jerky, to vent MY frustrations on! (Maybe I’ve been spending too much time with my cat, because the idea of biting something when I’m angry is strangely appealing…)

      3. nonegiven*

        Even eating too much meat can kick you out of ketosis, which can be really bad if you do it for medical reasons.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Clorinda, I think you’re right in theory. Problem is, I know many people who choose Keto/gluten free/vegetarian/vegan/clean/Paleo/custom regimens, and they do not seem to want or appreciate accomodation. They loudly find fault with a host’s food choices or menu alternatives, and often don’t even acknowledge the effort someone made to accomodate them. At some point, they find a way to Preach The Word about their diet.

      Please note, I am not saying this is the case for everyone with food preferences or needs. I know a lot of people who don’t think anyone is obligated to meet their particular dietary needs, and they are pretty matter-of-fact about their diet. I just happen to know a lot of people who must make sure we all know what they eat, and why.

    6. MsClaw*

      Well, maybe? I think commenting on the treats and snacks is a different category. There are several people in my office who will bring in leftover cupcakes from a kid’s party, or pick up a box of donuts or bagels or whatever for the team on the way in. Not everyone wants to or can eat the cupcakes or donuts, but that’s okay. People bringing in treats are not required to provide free treats everyone wants. And if the things people are bringing in are solely for personal consumption, then it’s exceptionally rude to comment on them.

      Now, if it’s snacks for a meeting or something being provided by the company, it would be good to try to accommodate everyone.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Such an important distinction – company-provided vs coworker-provided. It’s the company’s responsibility to make sure employees are able to participate in whatever activity is occurring (whether it’s as a reward or part of a work activity), but coworkers absolutely don’t and shouldn’t have to worry about that.

      2. Kat in VA*

        Agreed. I have a bowl of snacks that’s on the company dime. I’ve included keto-friendly jerky snacks (I checked) and cheese baked things for the two keto guys. I have to keep track of two vegans, a vegetarian, two gluten-free (celiac, not lifestyle), and someone who’s keeping up their immune system by eating either vegan, vegetarian, or only things like hormone-free chicken or grass-fed beef when I order lunches for training or meetings that run across mealtimes. I consider that minimal accommodation to help out.

        However, *none* of them are obnoxious about it, none of them are pushy or mean or give me or anyone else static because, say, I was only able to get a gluten-free cheese pizza on short notice or only a salad without cheese and with boring vinaigrette for the vegans.

        A lot of it is workplace attitude toward accommodation and a lot of it comes down to individuals’ attitudes toward how they should be accommodated and to what lengths.

        Curiously, though, I’ve noticed that when I do large orders like for a group of 20, even if the vegetarian/vegan/keto/gluten-free stuff is clearly marked and set to the side (THIS BOX LUNCH IS FOR TONY, PLEASE or THIS PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM PAN IS VEGAN) people gravitate toward those very limited food items rather than the larger quantities of “regular” food set out for people without restrictions.

        Anyone have any ideas on how to discourage this other than being The Annoyed Food Nazi who is hovering and barking at people who makes a grab for one of two vegan burritos I’ve ordered or whatever?

        1. Sara M*

          Order more of the vegan ones. So that instead of a run on the vegan ones, you have a run on the meat ones.

          I’ve done this with pizza (ordered more vegetarian pizza than we strictly needed) and the meat eaters mostly adapted. They take a slice of meat and a slice of veggie.

        2. TechWorker*

          Yeah definitely just order more veggie or vegan stuff – lots of people like just ‘trying things’ at a buffet. Still needs to be clear that enough needs to be left for the veggies though so might be difficult if it’s a very large group or people are eating at different times.

    1. A B*

      I definitely flashed back to a family vacation in Alaska, pretty sure we ate at a Reindeer Hut.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      I definitely ate at a place in Alaska that had a dish called The Local, consisting of: grilled reindeer, smoked bacon, mozzarella, onion, peppers, and jalapenos on a hoagie bun.

      However, the restaurant was called the Fancy Moose Lounge, not Reindeer Hut. Missed opportunity.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        That sounds amazing. I totally want to go now. I had some kind of Reindeer dish on a train in Sweden and it was great. Alas I don’t really recall how it was made or the name.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Oh my goodness I just asked Uncle Google — and there really is a restaurant named Reindeer Hut in Alaska.
      Alison did you know!?

  4. Schnapps*

    Most restaurants will accommodate and eliminate foods that are not good for her eating regimen. If it’s a burger joint, they can ask for a lettuce wrap, sub in a salad for fries, etc. It’s not that difficult. And really, it’s kind of all on her – as my mother would say, “You don’t HAVE to eat it.” Unless you’re holding her down and force feeding her, I don’t think she has the right to say anything.

    My response when someone offers something I’m not eating at the moment is “Oh no thanks! I’m good!”

    Her choice, all the way through. She doesn’t get the right to berate you because you’re not eating the way she is.

    1. Observer*

      It’s actually often NOT the case that the restaurant can sub in foods that work for someone. BTDT.

      It’s really presumptuous to assume that you know better than her what she can and cannot eat on her diet.

      She shouldn’t be telling everyone what to eat. And you shouldn’t be telling her what to eat.

    2. CanCan*

      Most restaurants have salad. Or any [protein]+[carb]+[veggie] option, where she can ask them to omit the carb, or just leave it on the plate. Unless you’re going to pizza joints and Subway. For everything else (snacks / optional foods like bread brought in before a meal) – she can easily skip. It would be nice of the others to accommodate her whenever possible, but it’s not something she’s entitled to!

      (FWIW, I’ve been doing keto for a month, and my group doesn’t even know – why should they. I think my diet is my responsibility. We’ve had 3 restaurant outings so far. I considered opting out of one, which was a burger joint, but the salad actually turned out to be quite decent.)

    3. BelleMorte*

      I agree, most places will have some option, and most are pretty flexible about adaptions for food preferences. I’m doing keto and go out to eat pretty often, I always end up finding something. I even went to an Italian restaurant and found at least 5 meals that worked for me with minimal substitutions i.e. side of steamed brocolli instead of side of rice etc.

      The cow orker sounds like she would be annoying about anything that makes her different in general, this is just the topic du jour.

  5. Arielle*

    I’m torn between being sorry for this person because being left out of food-related activities at work really does feel bad, and not that sorry because it sounds like her attitude about it is annoying. I’m speaking as someone who recently got left behind because my team went out for lunch to an old-school Italian sub place. Being pregnant and low-carb I can’t have lunch meat OR bread so there was literally nothing on the menu I could eat. But I like to think my attitude about it wasn’t as martyr-ish as this person.

    1. WellRed*

      I think that’s the crux of it. Her attitude. I say this as a person with Type 1 diabetes who eats low carb and is also often left out of workplace snacks. As to restaurants, I agree with Schnapps above. It’s usually possible to make some accommodations.

      1. Arielle*

        Hey, Type 1 diabetes here too! I try to keep snacks in my desk, but occasionally I’m the person everyone hates who cuts off an eighth of a donut.

        1. WellRed*

          There’s always someone willing to share a donut, because sometimes, you just need to have some donut.

          1. CatCat*

            A colleague and I have a glazed old fashioned pact. If there’s only one, we will split it.

        2. Keto Vegetarian*

          Haha I have to be honest, work treats are the best because I can eat like, 1/10 of a serving, without having to prep and throw out an entire batch. lol.

      2. Antilles*

        It’s usually possible to make some accommodations.
        Only if she’s willing to be reasonable and flexible. And based on her attitude as described, I’m guessing she’s not being that. There’s a way to link up both Johnny’s desire for chicken parm and her desire for having something other than salad (maybe don’t go to a pure Italian place but a more generalized restaurant), but I don’t see any indication she’d be willing to engage in that kind of discussion and everybody-wins resolution.

      3. CC*

        Type 2 diabetes here–and oof I feel for you guys! I really hate the attitude she’s having as a human and as someone who eats as low-carb as possible at work. If she’s that miserable on her diet, she needs a new diet.

        Lots of people have medical conditions where they can’t eat certain foods and I’ve never heard any of my friends with allergies, religious exemptions, and Type 1 diabetes gripe like this person. People are usually happy to accommodate people if you’re just polite about it. My coworker just was fasting for Ramadan and said nothing unless you asked about it!

        1. Liane*

          “I’ve never heard any of my friends with allergies, religious exemptions, and Type 1 diabetes gripe like this person”
          Seriously! My daughter was just (as in last week) diagnosed with alpha-gal allergy* after several serious reactions. She can’t eat beef, pork, or lamb now. Her attitude: I don’t eat that much of those. I will ask my vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian friends for new recipes and recommendations for soy burgers & the like. I will talk to the staff at restaurants. Still gonna suck sometimes but, oh well.

          *galactose-α-1,3-galactose allergy, the so-called “red meat” allergy that can happen after tick bites.

          1. Aquawoman*

            I live in terror of that disease because I’m hypoglycemic and allergic to every nonmeat protein source other than nuts and I really can’t balance my blood sugar on nuts alone. Fortunately, I don’t think it’s much of an east coast thing.

          2. Penny Parker*

            I got multiple tick-borne illnesses and my lyme-literate doctor took me off of gluten. He said he had never had a patient recover from deep-set lyme disease without going gluten free. It has been five years and everytime I get near gluten I do get sick again with lyme symptoms. It sucks but I think of the alpha-gal allergy and am grateful I can still eat meat. Your daughter has a good attitude; tick borne diseases can cause some serious long-term damage. I work with a group which puts on an annual event, and the volunteers are always fed; we get fed pizza. I always have to bring my own lunch but have found it does no good to complain.

          3. Kat in VA*

            Totally a side note but – as an avowed meat eater, I tried a Beyond Burger the other day and it was really, really good. I mean, was it a regular juicy ground beef burger? No. But as a vegetarian burger (with no soy, no gluten, and is kosher) it was damned good.

            *No, I don’t work for them. It was just pretty good!

    2. BadWolf*

      Yeah, I feel the OP as I have a coworker who is basically on permanent Atkins/low carb diet (as in food plan, not active weight loss). He frequently comments on free food in the negative that there’s nothing he can eat, only one thing he can eat, etc. I mean, I do get that it can be annoying and certainly if you are expected to do a team lunch or something. But it gets tiring after awhile. Like, I’m going to bring in bagels, but Coworker definitely won’t eat bagels. Should I bring in a fruit? But he doesn’t eat all fruit so I have to remember the right fruit and make two food stops. And then there’s probably someone who doesn’t like bagels or the fruit but doesn’t complain. And then I decide to just skip the bagels.

      But I’m always the person looking for the cheese pizza because I don’t like meat toppings…so pot/kettle.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        You sound super nice and accommodating! I would die of embarrassment if my coworkers had to perform mental gymnastics to determine what was “safe” to bring to the office and what would get commented on. I do keto and have celiac so I know my list of no-gos is super long and weird, and if I can’t eat (or, more often, don’t have anything I *prefer* to eat) I smile and have a protein bar later.

        1. Clisby*

          I don’t like sweet food. Back when I was working in an office (as opposed to telecommuting) I never ate cookies/doughnuts/brownies/etc. that people brought in. It never occurred to me to suggest that it would be great if they brought in jalapeno poppers instead. I can often sympathize with people whose dietary restrictions make eating out difficult, but I have exactly zero sympathy for people who complain about what co-workers have voluntarily brought in to share.

      2. Maggie*

        But it’s ALL HIS choice. If it’s not medical, he is actively CHOOSING not to eat these things. It should become everyone else’s burden.

        Food restrictions for medical reasons should be accommodated, but EVERY non-medical food restriction is a choice, and others are not required to accommodate your choices, no matter how special you think you are. And I say this as a vegetarian – no one has to make sure there is vegetarian food, only I have to.

        1. Mayati*

          Dieting for weight loss can be considered a medical food restriction; it’s not an allergy, but it is health-related. For the ketogenic diet, getting kicked out of ketosis (which, especially at the beginning of the diet, is fairly fragile) can make someone dehydrated and sick, similarly to how you’d get sick if you ate meat after years of vegetarianism.

          We really shouldn’t be putting people in the position of explaining just HOW medically-necessary their dietary requirements are, because it’s not a binary, it’s a spectrum. Accommodating people’s diets doesn’t have to mean providing special food, although that’s a kindness that improves participation and inclusion at work and prevents things like religious discrimination; it just has to mean enabling people to stick to their diets by bringing food from home, as a baseline, and being aware of allergen issues.

    3. DataGirl*

      I’m gluten free and we recently had a breakfast meeting at Panera. You should have seen the look I got when I asked if there was anything on the menu that didn’t contain gluten :D

      1. Clorinda*

        Was there anything? It’s Panera; bread is literally in the name. Maybe one of their breakfast bagel sandwiches, hold the bagel.

        1. Sally*

          I can’t eat wheat, and I get the fuji apple salad at Panera. I guess I’d better double check the ingredients!

        2. Lilysparrow*

          Yes, there are a number of things, including oatmeal, some of the entree salads, and soups. Others can be modified, like leaving off croutons.

          There’s a whole list on their website, so I hope it wasn’t the employees who were giving looks. If so, they’re not getting trained properly on their own menu.

          1. DataGirl*

            It was 9am so soup and salads were out. It was an employee who gave me the incredulous look, and they said they had nothing. Then I specifically asked about fruit and they remembered there was a fruit cup.

          2. one boring hapa*

            Oatmeal that isn’t purity protocol isn’t safe for people gluten-free-not-by-choice.

    4. OhBehave*

      Being left out is her choice. I’ve done strict Keto and it’s super easy to eat out. Almost all restaurants have chicken or salad. I even brought my own little container of dressing. I would think that in the interest of camaraderie, she would join. However, if she snipes about food in the office then she WILL do the same in a restaurant!

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, I mean that might happen on occasion. The team may decide on the Haute Hotdog place and you can’t (or won’t) eat hotdogs.
      But hopefully that’s just like the ONE time, and other times they go places you do like. It’s not the end of the world to not go once. But it sounds like this lady has an issue with nearly every place.
      Sometimes you just gotta shrug and not take these things personally. Or, go and bring your own food along if you know in advance.

    6. vampire physicist*

      I agree – I’ve got several food restrictions (allergies and religious) and it does suck to be left out. On the other hand for the new hire lunches…I would let the new hires decide. Italian is one of the more reliably “okay” options for me, so if I’m the new hire, please let me go to someplace where I’m not concerned about allergic reactions! But if it’s her birthday, by all means let her choose.

  6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Curious – how many of you have diet evangelists in your office? People who won’t shut up about keto/paleo/intermittent fasting/vegan/raw/etc.

    Had one former boss who talked a lot about his intermittent fasting diet, but didn’t try to push it, look down on others, etc. He did like to complain when I was enjoying a snack at 2pm and his ‘eating window’ didn’t open until 7.

    1. Crivens!*

      Not in the office, but way too many in my personal life, mostly of the “no gluten” and “no sugar” varieties.

      1. Roja*

        Same. In my personal life, it’s gluten-free/sugar-free, and keto/whole 30, though several of those people are truly intolerant and are not obnoxious at all. At work, it seems like everyone is vegan or vegetarian. It’s really funny to me that there’s almost no overlap between the groups.

        My field has a long history of encouraging eating disorders so it can be tricky managing diet talk in the workplace, and I admit I’m pretty touchy about it as a result. OP’s coworker should cut that part out stat, though I do have some sympathy if she is frequently not able to eat anything out of what’s offered as part of work lunches, etc. But if she’s chosen it, well, not partaking in random snacks coworkers bring in (!) is part of the territory when you go on an extremely restrictive diet.

          1. curly sue*

            My first guess would be either dance or modelling / fashion. The suite of entertainment industry fields can be incredibly image-focused, and not only for those in front of the camera and on the stage.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              (I just read Seabiscuit …it was chilling to read about what the jockeys did to make weight!)

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Not at work, but I once had a weird interaction with a guy in my meetup group, who walked up to my table at a potluck and asked if he could sit next to me, I said yes, he then followed up with “Bathroom, are you vegan?” as I was shoveling cheese with crackers and cold cuts into my mouth. Then continued the conversation, which others at the table joined into, about how meat is murder. I just wanted to eat my cold cuts in peace. When he said that humans are waging a war against animals, I excused myself and took my not-vegan self and my cold cuts to another table. All my other observations of the guy taken into account, I suspect it was his way of flirting. It did not work at all.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          ugh, I think I nested this in the wrong place, sorry. Was supposed to be to Alton Brown’s Evil Twin.

          1. Kat in VA*

            Nesting fail aside, I’m kind of a jerk so I probably would have just been shoveling all the food into my mouth, with attendant sounds of enjoyment. Flirting via negging is a poor choice of flirting methods. He sounds like a jerk.

            Then there’s the time honored response: Meat is murder. Tasty, tasty murder.

            (Again, I’m a jerk.)

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              Yeah I think he would get a seriously un-sensitive reply. Negging must work on some people but it sure doesn’t work on me.

      3. Marmaduke*

        I run into a ton of GF/keto evangelists, which is interesting for me because I have Celiac and epilepsy, and do periods of keto (depending on my medication situation) along with constant gluten free diet. I know how unhealthy those diets can be for some people, and how important it is to make dietary changes like that with the supervision of a doctor, and how eating gluten free is almost certainly not going to magically cure your vertigo or make you more flexible or whatever. But people think if I’m eating the same diet they are, surely I agree with them about its miraculous powers.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      None in my department, at least. One person I know is on a voluntary (vegan, I think?) diet but she never says anything about it unless you ask her something specific. Another one has food allergies but only mentions in to ask if there is something in a dish that she needs to avoid (she’s allergic to pineapple, which is pretty easy to avoid in group snacks).

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        I am also allergic to pineapple which is a PITA when I want a Sangria (not at work of course)

      2. Oh So Anon*

        That’s the way to do it. I’m lactose intolerant (not a choice, sadly) and I also usually eat low-carb (that is a choice). I make a point of not talking or drawing attention to the latter, and only discussing the former if I need an accommodation so I don’t fart-bomb my cube farm.

        I don’t want people defining me by my food preferences or thinking of me as high-maintenance, so I find other things to talk about. The problem is when *other people* insist on making my diet a topic of conversation with me, which is just like, c’mon, there’s more to me than what I eat or don’t eat, and I never discuss it, so can’t y’all read the room a bit better?

    3. ThatGirl*

      I work for a baking supply company so even though there are definitely people here on diets (the dept head was all about gluten-free for awhile) we’re constantly surrounded by cupcakes. It’s hard to resist fresh baked cupcakes.

    4. De Minimis*

      At my last workplace people got way, way overboard with both keto and intermittent fasting. One person pushed at least 2-3 others into doing it, and it was all they talked about. And it was an open office plan, so I got to hear their diet talk all day long.

      My job before that had a lot of people with various dietary restrictions, but it was located in an area where pretty much every restaurant offered options for all the different variations, so we never had an issue with office parties, snacks, etc. People rarely talked about it there.

    5. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      I’ve never encountered one IRL. One of my coworkers and I share recipes because we’re on similar eating plans, but most of the talk is about how we discovered a new way to make salmon or whatever. Positive talk about what we do eat, not negative talk about what we don’t.

    6. smoke tree*

      When someone is on a fad diet that’s really not healthy (according to science, not just my opinions) and they won’t stop being holier-than-thou about it, I find it really hard to keep my mouth shut.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        This seems harsh. Generally if someone is going around talking up how great their diet is they aren’t on it for medical reasons, but people can be on all sorts of different diets for lots of invisible disabilities and medical conditions. Keto, low-carb, no sugar, anti-inflammatory, low salt, gluten free, FODMAP, low protein, high protein, low fat… what’s “healthy according to science” really varies depending on one’s medical history.

        1. smoke tree*

          Well, sadly I usually do end up knowing way more than I really want to about the person’s motivations and amount of research. In my experience, people who are on diets for medical reasons are better informed and don’t try to evangelize to everyone else about it. That’s the part that irritates me, the spreading of misinformation.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            Why does it matter to you what their motivations and amount of research are? The foods that they choose to consume or not to consume are between them and their doctor. Any coworker who incessantly talks about diet, whether it’s to convince someone to join them or to give it up, it wildly out of line and obnoxious.

            People choose their diets for personal, often health-related reasons. Or maybe they just want to lose weight? Or maybe they decided it was unethical to eat meat, or are trying to cut down on their carbon footprint. NONE of these reasons are your business and, to be frank, you should stop asking.

            1. smoke tree*

              I think you’re reading quite a bit into this! I’m not asking anyone about this stuff, they’re talking to me about it ad nauseum and I’m silently judging them for it. That’s all.

        2. Just Elle*

          Agreed. Any human who says that one diet is categorically ‘bad’ or ‘good’ for all humans… has no earthly idea what they’re talking about. Its just… not that simple. Humans are a diverse cornucopia.

          Also, Dr. Feynman has a great quote – “All truths have a half life.” So I try to remember that when “BUT SCIENCE SAYS SO” pops into my head, and be open to the idea that maybe someone has access to newer, sciencier science than I do. (Or, maybe they just read one bad blog on the internet…. but I try to give them the benefit of the doubt).

          1. smoke tree*

            Sure, but I’m not saying that there is a diet that works for absolutely everyone–I’m kind of saying the opposite. There is a whole lot of diet-related misinformation out there, spread by people who have a financial interest in taking advantage of weight anxiety. And it bothers me when anyone evangelizes about that stuff. Sure, maybe there is sometimes an overlap between generally unhealthy advice and what will work for the occasional person, but they should really be consulting with medical professionals about that, not their coworkers.

            1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              But the point is that *you’re* not their medical professional. What your coworkers choose to eat isn’t your business.

              1. Former Employee*

                Except the problem is not that they are on this or that diet by choice, but that they are evangelizing about it.

                Someone who is on the keto diet because they have a seizure disorder is not likely to be running around telling everyone else that they, too, should be on that diet any more than someone who has diabetes would be telling everyone in earshot that they, too, should be testing their blood sugar on a regular basis..

              2. smoke tree*

                I agree, it’s their business until they make it my business. Once they make it my business (by trying to shame me for not doing the same thing), then I’m tempted to say something. But I don’t actually do it.

                1. Just Elle*

                  The statement I most took issue was “a fad diet that’s really not healthy (according to science, not just my opinions).”
                  First of all, you don’t really know that, for a fact, a fad diet is or is not healthy. No one really can. If you spend time on PubMed, you’ll find that the amount of scientific fact available on nutrition is.. appalling. And just like with any medicine, sometimes benefits outweigh the risk of certain diets. Even if the only benefit is weight loss, I’d argue that’s a pretty big one with the huge number of other risk factors weight loss reduces. Its just really, really not as simple as: according to science you are wrong.

                  I’m not saying Ketovangelising isn’t annoying, it is. And food religions in general are ridiculous, because they all operate under the assumption that there is One True Way of Eating that All Must Acknowledge (or else Die and experience Hellfire).

                  But I do find that a lot of people have medical conditions that aren’t all-that-uncommon, and when they find a solution to said condition… they’re excited about it and want to share with other people who are potentially suffering the same. Because being healed after years of suffering is truly… worth wanting to help another person experience. Should everyone who’s potentially interested in a dietary change to fix a medical problem talk to a medical professional first? Yes. Should they force their opinions on other people? No. Overshare with work colleagues? No. Probably just keep their mouth shut about nutrition in general at work? Yes. But I find often these conversations actually come about when one coworker asks another about their diet, and its a third party listener who’s the annoyed one. Not always… but…

      2. Lemmy Caution*

        I have decided to give up reading newspapers on anything related to food. Or believing in anything… I mean one week eggs and red wine are good for you and the next week they kill you… A bit like statistics, there are so many studies and you can take the same study and take a number of results and put a spin on them its unreal.

    7. an infinite number of monkeys*

      Heh, my husband and I discovered a keto-friendly ice cream shop lately, and all the tables have little containers full of conversation cards on various mildly thought-provoking and non-controversial topics. We assumed it was the only way they could get people to shut up about what they were eating.

    8. Hope Springs*

      I once worked with someone who adopted a vegetarian diet due to animal treatment concerns. And would evangelize at length while wearing her leather shoes. I once just spent a break staring at her shoes while she talked, and she said that she wouldn’t wear them, but you just can’t get good non-leather shoes.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This. Especially when the line we have drawn between “worth the effort” and “not worth the effort” is based on our personal convenience.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        No, you can keep doing it, it’s the not shutting up about it that’s the problem.

    9. Katrinka*

      We’re getting a new team member soon who is vegan, to the point where the word is in their email account and social media handles (think vegan123) but we don’t know if they’re going to make a big deal or if it’s just another thing to keep in mind. I’ve been looking up appropriate recipes for work treats, because I don’t know if my ever-popular butter cookie recipe will be as good with margarine…

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Psst, look for vegan butter. Margarine still has milk products (whey) in it.

        1. NotMyRealName*

          Oh, that’s good for me to think about. Our new colleague has a dairy allergy and our office is all about the birthday treats.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Just please don’t call them butter cookies if they’re made with something other than butter. I once got a “fun” digestive evening when someone used the buttery-tasting vegan stick margarine instead of butter because “you won’t be able to tell the difference”. It turns out that while my mouth can’t tell the difference, other body parts of mine can…

        (I have a soy sensitivity. It’s not a full allergy because I can have a little bit and generally be fine as long as I’m careful, but I have to keep track of it and know my limits. The best metaphor for others is “like a lactose intolerance, but for soy” although that’s probably not biologically accurate.)

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Nobody over here, yet we have so picky eaters I’m learning. Thankfully people just leave it if they don’t want it and I make a note to say “don’t get that again, it’s a bust.”

      My boss is a vegetarian and he sits in on every BBQ, happily munching on his veggie burger that we make sure gets added. I even asked him when I started if he has any issues in that “can I eat meat around you…or?” and he laughed and said no, it’s just his personal choice.

    11. EventPlannerGal*

      My current boss literally will not stop reminding people that she’s a vegetarian. It’s bizarre. We work a lot with food and the comments are pretty much daily – “oh, I wouldn’t eat that because I’m a vegetarian”. “Looks gross to me – but all meat looks gross to me, as I’m a vegetarian”. “Does that taste good? I wouldn’t know, I’ve never tried it because I’m a vegetarian”. I’ve worked for her for a year and talk to her about catering every day, I know she’s a damn vegetarian! But she will not stop! It’s so bizarre. It’s not exactly evangelising as she’s never tried to get anyone else to go veggie, but it’s like she thinks we’ll forget if she doesn’t remind us literally every single day.

      1. Tacos are a food group I can't eat because my waistline loves them too much*

        My 12 year old son is a vegetarian because he’s never cared for the taste, texture, or smell of meat (even as an infant). He will make comments about what the rest of the family is eating and I’m quick to stop him and point out that he’s being rude. My fear is that he’ll one day behave like your boss. I won’t have it I tell you!!!

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Thank you. (signed, someone who doesn’t care for most meat but doesn’t make a fuss about it)

      2. Maris Crane*

        Definitely annoying, but I was vegetarian for years (about 15 years) and people forgot all the time. Now I’m vegan, and if I don’t remind people, I don’t get to eat at work/group events. If I do remind people, I’m an annoying vegan who doesn’t shut up about it. Maybe your boss is just annoying, or others forget (or “forget”) frequently.

        1. Maris Crane*

          The “meat is gross” comments are rude, to be sure. So are all the “I’ll order you a plate of dry lettuce ha ha ha” or “yeah, I know, vegan, I’ll order some tasteless fake crap for you” comments I get. Some people are just rude.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            “Some people are just rude.”

            I think that’s what this all boils down to.

    12. Aquawoman*

      I know lots of people with food restrictions and I don’t experience ANY of them as food/diet evangelists. I believe there are such people — OP’s coworker sounds like a PITA — but I also think people HEAR things as “evangelizing” or talking too much about it when it’s really not. Like, someone who has really had success with the keto diet talking about how great the keto diet has been for them isn’t evangelizing any more than the caffeine addict extolling his morning latte is a coffee evangelist. I talk about my eating habits when asked or sometimes when the conversation turns to food–that means I’m talking about gluten-free exactly as much as any normal-diet-person is talking about what they eat. I know people who feel a LOT better based on what they eat (or, more aptly, don’t eat) and I think many people don’t adequately recognize the difference between “man, my arthritis is so much better since I quit sugar” and “you should stop eating sugar.”

      1. Mia*

        Food and dietary choices are so personal that going on and on about the benefits of any one way of eating will come off as evangelizing. It doesn’t really matter if someone sees it as just sharing their success story because they’re proud of it or whatever. It’s still exhausting (and honestly, often quite tone deaf) to hear.

      2. Mia*

        And really, coffee isn’t a great analogy here. While I’m sure this isn’t the case 100% of the time, you’re pretty unlikely to frustrate your coworkers or inadvertently trigger someone’s ED by being all “gotta have my java!”

      3. Aquawoman*

        Mia, those are both actually the problem of the listener and not the speaker. If it doesn’t annoy you that someone says they love pizza, but it annoys you that someone says they don’t eat it because they don’t do dairy, that’s totally on you and your issues. Also, I assume ANY food talk can be triggering to people with an ED.

        1. ED not triggered*

          Yeah, I can’t worry about triggering someone, just as I don’t expect people to worry about triggering me. I’m in recovery from an ED and managing my triggers is all on me.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve only run across it in my personal life, not at work (so far). I try to avoid commenting on people’s food except if it looks delicious and then I just say “Mmm, that looks good.”

      I’ve been slowly phasing out meat (processed meats in particular) in an attempt to eat healthier and started with my least favorite, pork. Unfortunately, year before last, we ate a holiday dinner at my brother’s house and his wife made a big old ham. When it got around the table to me and I tried to pass it on, they all called me out on it—”Don’t you want a piece?” I had to explain that I stopped eating pork and then had to listen to all kinds of comments on it for the next five minutes. D:<

    14. Spock's Raised Eyebrow*

      Not so many diet evangelists, but we’ve had an awful rash of ‘detox plan’ fanatics pop up in my office. Apple cider vinegar, lemon water only, etc.

      I see it a lot more outside the office- my husband is only just now reeling in the macro talk after a year of keto. :D

      I’m also low carb most of the time and people eventually notice over time, but I don’t talk about it unless asked first.

      1. nonegiven*

        I have an aunt that does fairly strict Atkins, she lost a LOT of weight on it 45-50 years ago, it was a big deal at the time and it was doctor supervised. She goes off it for family dinners, and hardly ever mentions it. If asked, she just says, “It’s pretty easy, throw a piece of meat on the grill, fix a couple of vegetables, and it’s dinner.”

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Oooh, I’m not usually bothered by people’s talk about their eating plans or whatever, but I’d have a really hard time not pointing out that out bodies have organs that handle “toxins” for us.

    15. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      I think I am one :(. I have a medically prescribed diet that isn’t terribly restrictive but I cringe every time I hear myself say, “I can’t have that.” It feels very annoying and I’m the one saying it . . .

    16. CynicallySweet*

      I work with a couple of ppl on special diets who are totally cool. And one person who’s a god damned nightmare!

      The politics of the relationship means that I can’t say anything but if I have to hear her interrupt a perfectly normal work conversation to get on her soap box one more time…. I will do nothing but it really is annoying!

      Tho I did enjoy making a comment about almonds and water consumption after having to listen to an 8 minute lecture about how great being a vegan is for the environment (I have no problem w/ eating almonds, but i had the opening!)

    17. HannahS*

      I’ve been really lucky, in that I’m surrounded by people with dietary restrictions–kosher, halal (and every variation within those, from “won’t eat pork but chicken is fine” to “will only eat if certified”), vegetarians, pescetarians, vegans, intermittent fasters, paleo-lite, severe nut allergy, teetotal, calorie counting, etc. but no one makes a big fuss about it. There’s polite figuring out what options are workable when we order food or try to find restaurants.

  7. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    How do you deal with eating out at places where what’s served doesn’t fit your goals as well? I’m very short, so anything at a place like the Cheesecake Factory or a similar restaurant known for very calorie dense dishes will certainly put me over (maybe double) what I would like to eat for the day amount wise.

    I just want to be able to eat an entire meal without blowing up my day! I have trouble saving food from a plate so any places with dishes under 800 calories are a total life saver.

    Also be sure to tell people as far in advance as you can when and where you’re going. Lets people fiddle with schedules and maybe make room in their dietary goals for a meal out.

    1. Choux*

      Request a box when you order and immediately put 1/2 or 2/3 of the meal into the box. Then you don’t have to ‘save’ anything on the plate, you can eat everything that’s there – just don’t also eat what’s in the box.

    2. Cat*

      You can usually ask them to wrap up half at the start at a place like Cheesecake Factory.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I always bring Tupperwares when I go out to eat. Pack up everything except what you want to eat and put it in your tote bag, where you won’t see it, before you start.

    4. Guacamole Bob*

      I’ve occasionally asked for a to-go box as soon as my food arrived and put half of it in the box right off the bat. I wouldn’t do it at an interview lunch, but for less formal work lunches with coworkers it would probably be fine. An offhand comment about it being too much food and not wanting to eat it all in one sitting should be sufficient if you get strange looks or questions – you don’t want to make a big deal about it or start talking to coworkers about the details of your calorie needs. Most people understand that portion control can be tricky and won’t think much of it.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, I rarely order food that won’t taste good the next day or two at home, because I almost never can eat even half of ordinary restaurant meals. It’s ridiculous the amount of food they serve you, but I just go in figuring this is my meal + leftovers – so, for example, I don’t order fried fish because it doesn’t reheat well.

    5. KHB*

      +1 to requesting a box at the beginning of the meal, but if that doesn’t work for you, you can also ask them to leave out the most calorie-dense ingredients (like a pizza without cheese, or whatever). Most places are happy to make modifications like that.

    6. Mediamaven*

      Don’t eat all of it? The also have things under 800 calories. I mean, the menu is 35 pages long so I’m sure you can find something.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, there’s a place near us that has a similar type of menu to Cheesecake Factory, and a couple of pages are “light” meals under 500 calories — it’s mostly lean protein and steamed veggies or salads.

      2. MicroManagered*

        Don’t eat all of it?

        That’s unhelpful. And the question mark makes it seem unkind. She clearly already addressed this in her comment:

        I have trouble saving food from a plate

        For people who were raised by “clean your plate!” parents, or who otherwise struggle with overeating, this can be tough and strategies like boxing up half the meal immediately are needed as a way to learn better habits.

        1. Mediamaven*

          I’m sorry it wasn’t helpful or came across as unkind but there has to be some level of onus on a person to figure out how to manage food in accordance to their needs. The question in and of itself it not a challenging one. Ask for modifications. Don’t eat it all. Box half of it up. Order from the low calorie menu. Cheesecake Factory has 50 dishes under 590 calories.

          I feed my team all the time and it’s a struggle. If I had someone say I don’t want to go to restaurants that have big plates of food I would say, you know what? Let’s just call it off then because I can’t win. And believe me I have my own ridiculous food issues that are hard to accommodate.

          1. Banana*

            Isn’t that what overcaffinatedandqueer was doing? Asking for what options they could use? I agree with micromanagered, your comment seemed a bit unkind – especially in a forum where people come specifically for the purpose for getting these kinds of work-related questions answered.

          2. Eeyore's missing tail*

            Isn’t that Overcaffinatedandqueer is doing? Asking others for advice on how to handle the issue?

          3. MicroManagered*

            If I had someone say I don’t want to go to restaurants that have big plates of food I would say, you know what? Let’s just call it off then because I can’t win.

            Overcaffinatedandqueer never suggested asking for an alternate restaurant based on her caloric preferences. She did the opposite.

        2. pleaset*

          “strategies like boxing up half the meal immediately are needed as a way to learn better habits.”
          Then do that. Or ask for a half portion, saying you don’t care about the price.

          Mediamaven’t specifics are good ideas.

          1. CJM*

            Lots of restaurants will order let you order from the senior menu even if you are younger than their age requirement. The portions are usually about a third smaller, and you may only get to choose one side instead of two. There’s always plenty of food, at least for me.

            I’m not on a diet, but I find that most restaurants just serve way too much food

        3. LN*

          You mentioned boxing it up, and that is not eating all of it. Which was the point of the original comment. So you’re suggesting the same thing, just a strategy to use to accomplish that.

    7. pleaset*

      Not eating out, but our CEO hosted a working lunch yesterday providing lunch. I didn’t want to eat anything they had and frankly don’t really like eating at meeting at which I’d be talking, so just said “no thanks” and participated cheerfully in the meeting. 12 people eating and me not eating. I don’t care what others thing – I do me.

      If it was a meal with a client or external constituent, I’d have taken it but barely ate.

      If it was meal hosted by a client or external constituent, I’d have eaten it for relationship reasons.

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        I do this with a monthly “lunch” meeting held at my college workplace’s dining hall. First off, the meeting is at noon, about two hours before I normally eat lunch (“breakfast” is 11 am for me). Secondly, I didn’t eat in a dining hall when I was a student and I’m certainly not going to do it as a well-paid adult. All this would be fine if they didn’t keep bloody asking me, “Oh, Steggy, are you sure you don’t want something?” How many times do I have to tell you I’m fine?!

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Just put something in front of you. It will deter many of the askers. Even just a glass of water will do the trick.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t like lunch meetings–do I eat and not talk? Do I talk and not eat? It makes me anxious.

    8. Janie*

      Most of those kinds of places have a section of the menu with lower calorie options. At Cheesecak Factory it’s the “Skinnylicious” section.

    9. drpuma*

      Depending on your coworkers (and your relationships with them), could you agree ahead of time to split a dish with someone else? Whether it’s your coworker who’s always hungry (who now gets a dish and a half, score!) or one who’s similarly proportioned (so you both get the right size meal).

    10. LCL*

      Depending on the restaurant, ordering an appetizer or two works great if you are trying to limit what you eat. Depending on the restaurant. If all of the appetizers are deep fried and battered this strategy doesn’t work.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Echoing this from others but doggy-bag it! Seriously, nobody should be expecting ANYONE, short, tall, thin, wide to finish their entire plate.

      I’m big AF and I still don’t finish my meals when we eat out. If I’m with my partner, he helps me out sometimes if he’s still hungry but otherwise, we always just take it home. Same with out with friends or colleagues. I’m like “oh and dinner too!”

    12. Risha*

      This isn’t generally helpful, sorry, but since you mention them in particular (and I’m well familiar with their massive entrees), Cheesecake Factory has not only the Skinnylicious section but also a Small Bites section. I order an app + a small bite half the time, and it’s an entire but not overwhelming meal.

    13. Keto Vegetarian*

      I always eat a snack before hand. Nuts are a great one because they’re so satiating. Not going in already feeling deprived/hungry is so much better for my self control. Its way easier to say “oh that was a yummy bite, but I don’t need to eat ALL of it” when I’m not catching up from hanger.

      Also, just in general, getting your brain over the mental hump of not wanting food to go to “waste” and phrasing it as not wanting your health to go to waste instead!

    14. Gumby*

      The Cheesecake Factories near me have a separate “everything under 600 calories” menu which is usually an insert of the bigger menu.

      For other places, I sometimes order appetizer-sized salads or sides instead of a main dish. Or box it up as others have said – I generally assume any restaurant meal I go to will end up also being a second meal later in the week which makes me feel slightly less bad about the prices…

    15. NpD*

      Ask for a box when you receive your plate. While you’re waiting for the box, physically separate what you are going to eat from what you are going to take. I also have trouble not “cleaning my plate” and this physical separation, even if it’s just slicing a knife down the middle, really helps me.

    16. blink14*

      I often find that appetizers at a place like the Cheesecake Factory are enough for a main meal. Sometimes I’ll do an app and a side salad. If you are wanting an entree, just eat half and ask for the rest to be wrapped up to go. If I know I’m going that route, I’ll pick something that can be reheated or eaten cold at a later point (some things, like fish and chips for instance, don’t fare well reheated).

      I haven’t been to the Cheesecake Factory in awhile, but I believe they still have a menu with items that are under 600 calories, and some other chain restaurants (and local spots) have similar menus.

  8. Mediamaven*

    I’ve had employees on both extremes. I had a paleo employee who would insist on a specially prepared entree that was three times the cost of everyone else’s meals if I offered to bring food in. I also have an employee who has an extremely challenging diet and insists that we don’t try to accommodate her. It becomes extremely challenging to accommodate everyone when you are offering to feed multiple people so I’m not totally sure I agree that it has to be treated exactly the same as an allergy etc… But I also think what’s at play here is the micorphone that sometimes accompanies these types of diets. It’s like the saying goes (but you can add in any diet), “How to you know if someone is Keto. Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!”

    1. Kimmybear*

      I totally get the “insists that we don’t try to accommodate her”. My family has weird food allergies and we’ve had many close calls when someone really tried to be helpful but missed a key piece of information like asking “Are the french fries fried in the same oil as fried clams?”

      1. Just Elle*

        I agree with this. Honestly, its so depressing when well meaning people try SO HARD to accommodate me and make a mistake and then I have to refuse the food anyway. When I say “really, I’m fine” … I really mean it.

      2. Delta Delta*

        A colleague of mine is diabetic and also has some food allergies and is sensitive to aerosols (think: cooking spray). There is absolutely no way I would ever try to cook for her or presume that anyone other than she or her spouse could cook for her in a way that won’t kill her – so we don’t try. She brings her own food and everyone is perfectly happy together.

    2. EA in CA*

      I have that as well, but in a difference scenario. Both are vegan, one for the weight loss/self righteousness and the other because of allergies and that’s how she grew up eating. Vegangelist co-worker rants every time someone brings in any type of food that isn’t vegan-friendly but refuses to bring in treats herself because she doesn’t feel it necessary to feed the commune of vultures at work (her exact description of our summer interns). The other vegan rolls her eyes every time Vegangelist rants and brings in new treats every month when she is recipe testing new ideas and wants to get our opinions on it (last week was flourless, vegan avocado brownies, which were to DIE for!). We try our best to accommodate both whenever food is provided, but have gotten sick and tired of hearing how that place isn’t vegan enough, or doesn’t have organic, or doesn’t have blah blah blah. It’s always the attitude that makes the biggest impact on how a situation is received.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Really intrigued by the brownies, because brownies! If you ever run across the recipe will you post it in the open thread?

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’m not vegan, but I once worked with a woman who decided to go vegan. We loved when she tested dessert recipes. Vegan desserts are some of the best I’ve ever had!

      2. Mediamaven*

        The attitude does make a huge difference. It’s like someone is treating you to food. BE NICE and SAY THANK YOU!

      3. cc*

        Lol at the “for weight loss/self righteousness”
        As a vegan, those are both legit bonuses of the diet haha

    3. President Porpoise*

      The real question is – if they’re on Keto and have run a marathon, which will they mention first?

      1. Mediamaven*

        My keto diet will help me in the marathon – or so I was told in the Peace Corp.

    4. Aquawoman*

      I just find that joke really rude. People talk about food, it’s a topic. If you don’t want to hear about someone’s keto diet, stop talking about food. If you’re going to talk about food, then everyone gets to play. That same joke could be made about people who love beer or pizza or ice cream or donuts, or people with no food restrictions who will make comments about how “good” you’re being for not eating a brownie. Those people talk about food the exact same amount as most food-restricted people.

      1. Princess PIP*

        Telling sometime they’re being good by not eating a dessert is terrible and nobody should be doing that.

        There is a difference between talking about your food choices, and dominating the conversation and touting how it’s better than others’ choices and making the communal topic all about your choices.

        Talking about videogames does not mean someone gets to hog the floor and discuss Super Smash exclusively and how superior it is to other favorites.

        1. Clisby*

          It’s no worse than hounding them to eat the dessert when you’ve said “No thanks.” I used to get that all the time. “Oh, come on, you can have a slice – look how skinny you are!” “Oh, take just a little – YOU don’t need to diet.”

          I was so tempted to say “If I wanted your goddamned lemon meringue pie I’d be eating it right now. Just shut up.”

          1. tootorboot*

            Right? Believe me, my face would bee piled high with lemon meringue pie if I wanted it to be, no encouragement needed like, ever.

      2. Aquawoman*

        Which is why I find that joke really rude, because it’s insulting people for EVER mentioning what they eat when other people do the same and aren’t subjected to insulting jokes about it.

        1. Jasnah*

          It’s not about EVER mentioning what they eat. It’s poking fun at people who turn their dietary restrictions into a moral standard that they pass and everyone else fails. You can talk about food without moralizing it and using it as a measuring stick to put down others.

    5. designbot*

      I completely get where your employee was coming from. There was a while where I had a lot of restrictions but one of the biggest ones was that I could only have 10g of fat per day, no more than 3g per sitting. Let’s be honest, during that time I mostly didn’t trust anything I didn’t make myself anyway. So I told coworkers, don’t even try, this is mine to manage. It often became more annoying for everyone if they would try to—at most restaurants all I could eat was plain white rice or a side salad no dressing, but they weren’t happy with that degree of success. I’ve found that when you let people try to accommodate you, they mostly wind up trying to change you instead, and let’s all just skip that part please.

  9. LMB*

    I do a mix of low carb/keto and as mentioned by Schnapps, I literally have never been in a restaurant where there isn’t one single thing that can be consumed or modified for how I’m eating. And, Keto has become such a thing now that most restaurants are no longer phased by “can I get that burger, but without that bun?”. If she’s worried the salad dressing will have hidden sugar, that’s what oil and vinegar dressing is for..

    My co-workers know how I eat, there is a box of chocolate/candy on our floor, etc, and I never make them feel guilty/make snarky comments about what I CHOOSE NOT to eat…

    Some people are just insufferable by nature..

    1. Keto Vegetarian*

      Seriously. I’m keto AND a vegetarian, and in the year+ I’ve been doing this, the only restaurants I couldn’t find an accommodation are Chick Fil A and Taco Bell.
      Does salad taste as good as pasta? No. But you know what REALLY doesn’t feel good? Being sick for the rest of my life. So.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Out of curiosity, what do you order at the other fast food type places? I’m not keto but am vegetarian (among other things) and I find fast food places to be pretty difficult for me to get enough protein at so I’d be interested in anything you’ve figured out that I maybe haven’t thought of yet. (I usually end up getting a carton of milk for protein if all else fails. It’s easier now that more fast food places do breakfast all day so I can get eggs.)

        1. Keto Vegetarian*

          I am a powerlifter, so protein is definitely something I’m not going to get from fast food alone, and I feel you lol. I usually pair fast food with some snacks I keep stashed for the occasion. Either a protein shake (I keep powder and a shaker at my desk), a Dang Bar, or nuts (I keep them stashed literally everywhere lol, car included), or those cheese crisps, and the individual serving packets of hemp seeds and nutritional yeast are extra awesome. The latter ones are good because I can buy an inadequate fast food salad and top them with my own additions.

          I’m also hugely reliant on chipotle as a source of nutrition, hah. And also a local Greek place – Greek is amazing because they operate in much the same way as chipotle (where you can point to what you want), it’s fairly cheap, and they have tons of vegetarian protein options.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I really miss being able to keep nuts in my desk at work. We have someone else with a severe tree nut allergy, though, so I’ve had to give up my jar of nuts and all of my protein snack bars as desk options and have been scrambling ever since. (Most protein bars have soy in them, which I can’t have. The only brand I can usually buy are Lara Bars, but they have nuts.)

    2. SezU*

      Yeah, it’s not my co workers job to make sure I am fed. I eat the way I choose to eat, and don’t expect anyone else to follow it or accommodate it. And, truly, if I want to I can eat something that is outside the parameters I have set for myself. I don’t do it often, but I CAN (whereas some people really can’t… allergies, etc.).

  10. Amethystmoon*

    Regardless if a diet is ‘chosen’ or forced, most people do go on diets for health-related reasons. I diet because I’m trying to lose weight, but would never force someone else to follow my own restrictions. That being said, I think a lot of reasons why people chose to comment on their own diets is we do live in a culture which places a lot of pressure on people to look perfect. People who do not look perfect for whatever reasons often feel judged and use food comments as a way to detract from the judginess of others. It would be nice if we could all exist in a food/body comment-free zone, but alas, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.

    1. Ali G*

      Yeah, even my mom who is on a gluten-free, lactose-free, low FODMAP diet can find something to eat at almost any place we go to. Of course Italian wouldn’t be her first choice, for obvious reasons, but she could still make it work without starving. I think co-worker likes to make it all about her and the things she can’t eat, everyone is torturing her with, etc.
      Also, most of the folks I know who are on restrictive diets by choice are oddly stoic about it. I felt similar when I did the Whole30 – it was a personal challenge and I didn’t care what food was hanging around the office – I was going to finish this challenge! (I did finish!!)

    2. pleaset*

      But it’s more serious in some cases than others.

      For example, I stopped eating trans fats in the 1990s, when they were very common, for health – I had the impression eating them contributed to cancer. But having trans fats once in a blue moon is no big deal – I tried to avoid it but if I had a little, whatever. A caloric restriction is generally similar – if you eat a bit too much at one meal, you can cut back at the next. Not great, but not a huge problem.

      Whereas not eating octopus for ethical reasons or not eating gluten due to celiac disease is a lot more binary – going off the rules is really bad.

    3. Just Elle*

      Agreed. Wanting to lose weight IS a health reason to go on a diet!

      But as someone who’s been on the keto diet for over a year for medical reasons, I do want to clarify two points:
      1) There are very real, very legitimate medical reasons to require strict adherence to a keto diet.
      -Glucose Transporter Type 1 Deficiency (where children can literally die from eating carbs)
      -Seizure disorders
      -Certain thyroid diseases
      -Autoimmune diseases, which are often ‘hidden’ diseases you wouldn’t know your coworker had
      -Type 1 or 2 Diabetes, or even pre-diabetes
      -Chronic migraines
      -Prevention of cancer or Alzheimer’s in people with a strong genetic disposition
      2) Keto isn’t really like every other diet… you can’t just, you know, choose to eat a cookie, and then go back to your diet. Getting kicked out of ketosis is extremely disruptive and counter productive.

      That said…
      This person sounds truly insufferable.

      1. Meatatarian*

        I’ve got to correct you on your diabetes comment. I’ve been diabetic since 1991. Ketosis can be dangerous for us. Lower carbs (100-115 mg a day for me) are usually a good idea, but not nearly as low as what a keto diet allows. I’m under the care of an endocrinologist and and periodically consult with a dietician. These kinds of threads concern me because they sometime contain medically misleading or unsound information. If you are diabetic, please make no major dietary changes without your doctor’s advice.

        1. Just Elle*

          I am under the care of an endocrinologist who recommends ketosis as a treatment for both type 1 and 2 diabetes. It can be done safely. If you’re interested to know more, there’s a lot of great research available particularly by Dr Dom D’Agostino. I’m not saying any person, particularly a diabetic, should just Willy Nilly start a new diet. They should absolutely consult with a doctor. But science has come a really long way in the last few years regarding it’s thinking about the ketogenic diet and it’s application to diabetes management.

      2. Mayati*

        And there are people like me whose household members have medical reasons to be on keto (my partner has chronic, painful inflammation) but who are technically on the diet “voluntarily” in order to eat the same food.

        I can’t just…go off keto for a work happy hour and then go back to it, even though it wouldn’t trigger a food allergy or something. I wouldn’t die, but I’d feel like thirsty, headachey, nauseous garbage. I could choose to transition off it gradually, but I shouldn’t have to in order to participate as a full member of my team at work. And if someone asked me to justify my diet in order to grant it the same deference as a “medical diet,” what am I supposed to do, disclose my partner’s health concerns? That’s a whole extra layer of “not your business.”

    4. Seacalliope*

      Detract from the judginess by adding to it? They need to stop and re-evaluate how they are actually treating other people because that is unacceptable.

  11. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Petition to banish the phrase “going on a diet” and to stop referring to following a specific eating plan (keto, paleo, vegan, etc) as “dieting”.

    We as a society need to seriously reframe how we discuss/think about these topics.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Except that assumes motivation. Sometimes it’s a change of diet, sometimes it’s dieting.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        My mom is low-carb because she’s diabetic. That’s her diet (permanently). I did restricted calories for awhile to lose weight. That was dieting. (The less-restricted level of calories I eat now is a long-term dietary change, though, but it’s not the same as the temporary weight-loss phase.)

      2. LLG612*

        Amen! Keto is a lifestyle change for me for medical reasons and I get so sick of being told I “don’t need to be on a diet.”

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I would say that eating a certain way for an entire year is a lifestyle change.

    2. Lemmy Caution*

      So, if we banish dieting, what would we then call a dietitian? An eating specialist? Though that sounds a bit like the dude eating 50 hotdogs in 5 minutes at Coney Island.

  12. LLG612*

    I’m keto at the advice of my neurologist and try so very hard not to be THAT person, because even though it’s medically recommended for my condition, it’s not like I’ll die if I touch a carb. But I will say it’s challenging when other people’s sensitivities/preferences are observed (I’m not talking legit allergies but “I don’t like mushrooms” or “dairy disagrees with me once in awhile”) while my restrictions are not. I happen to be the boss s when I’m planning things I accommodate everyone’s preferences, allergies, and sensitivities including my own, but my board members and my staff seem to acknowledge other preferences but not mine. I think they view it as a fad. Anyway, I feel for this person in some ways but also feel like she’s making a much larger deal of it than necessary. The only places I can find absolutely nothing to eat are Chinese or Thai places and I’m used to being the weird one out asking for two sides of Brussels sprouts as my meal (have done that!).

    1. Michael Valentine*

      Same thing happens here. I have some food intolerances that won’t cause anaphylaxis, but they are severe (think reflux, esophageal spasms, stomach pain). I don’t call them allergies, and as such, my needs get ignored. I have a couple of bosses who won’t eat “white mushy food” so I’ll get to enjoy a buffet with spicy red sauces and vinegars, both pretty bigtime triggers for me. I eat a lot of crackers and bread during those meals! At least dessert is usually fine.

    2. Pam*

      I was just at a restaurant where the Brussels sprouts side beat everything else on the menu.

      1. EA in CA*

        I just ate at a place that did a roasted brussels sprout salad. It was listed as a shareable appetizer, but was my entree. Best salad I ever ate!

    3. Just Elle*

      Agreed. I have very serious health conditions that require I stay in ketosis (and not that kind of keto where people are constantly telling me they “do keto” but still eat carbs once a week / still eat fruit / whatever nonsense). I hate having to admit it to people because they act like I got my diagnosis from a witch doctor and not an endocrinologist…

    4. Receptionist/Rocket Scientist*

      God, I can’t imagine how annoying it must be to be on keto for medical reasons, when there are so many people who go keto because it’s popular and behave like they’re in a deeply obnoxious cult. I’m so sorry you have to put up with that.

      Restaurant rec for you: I recently discovered that Five Guys burger restaurants have a keto-friendly option (“burger bowls.”) It’s also gluten free. If you’re near a Five Guys, try it, it’s awesome!

  13. Rainbow Roses*

    I need to eat a low carb diet for medical reasons. Yes, I’m sad that I can’t eat the cookies and chocolates that coworkers bring in but I just ignore the food. There are almost always something to eat at restaurants. Even Italian places can grill you a chicken or fish. Even if there’s not, she can decline without the commentary.

    I suspect she likes the attention.

  14. hayling*

    I have done Weight Watchers on and off for years, and I would never make a fuss about a restaurant we’re going to for work!

  15. Anonymous Poster*

    You should try and accommodate where you can peoples’ dietary restrictions. Regardless if it’s religious or medical (which are no-brainer reasons to accommodate) or weight loss or something else (because we shouldn’t really care about the reasons), you should try to accommodate where you can. I generally think it’s a nice gesture to have the newcomer choose where they want to go, but the easiest way around the newbie choosing the Gluten Palace that your Celiac-suffering coworker can’t go to, is simply provide a list of restaurants that generally, anyone with any dietary restriction can find something to eat at. That is, there’s a vetted list of places where almost anyone can eat at, and ask them, “Choose one of these restaurants from the list, and we’d love to host a lunch there to welcome you aboard.”

    Honestly when I’m new somewhere, I simply don’t know the area or the price range people might expect anyway for a restaurant I’m choosing, so it also takes a ton of onus off the newbie. The list especially prevents dietary problems and the newbie choosing either McDonalds, not wanting to violate anyone’s budget and raise a fuss, or the priciest steakhouse in town and getting off on the wrong foot.

    tl;dr: Create a list of restaurants where anyone with almost any dietary restriction can eat and fit within a price range that’s appropriate for your workplace. Ask new folks to choose a restaurant from there to go to.

    As far as comments and the like, that should be directly addressed. “Francine, I respect your dietary restrictions and choices. Please respect your fellow coworkers’ choices also.” That behavior is simply unprofessional.

  16. Snarkus Aurelius*

    My sister has issued with my food. Not anyone else’s. Just mine. She’s very skinny, and I was overweight for most of my 20s. I didn’t care; she cared all the time.

    She was a lot like this coworker. Anytime I’d order something or cook something she couldn’t have by her own food standards, I’d have to hear about it. To this day, she still loudly complains about the way I order my steak even though the dish isn’t for her.

    But you know what a therapist finally pointed out and that I think is very true here?

    None of this kvetching is about me personally. It’s all about my sister. When she complained about my food that she was denying herself, it was more like, “I want that, and I can’t have it. Now I have to watch someone else eat what I can’t have. It’s not fair that I’m the only one who cares about my diet. Everyone else should be facing the same urging and denying that I do.” The same logic applied to my weight. My sister wasn’t upset that I was fat; she was upset that I was fat and didn’t care the way that she did.

    I know that it’s not logical, but it does make sense to me.

    AAM’s advice is really sound here. You don’t want other people to feel left out. But if someone brings in cookies or cake or whatever and this coworker complains? Just remember. Her complaints are about her and no one else.

  17. AnonGoodNurse*

    I work for the government, so the pizza at our monthly staff meetings is paid for by the managers. I usually bring my own lunch because I don’t want my cheat meal for the week to be pizza with my coworkers (I’d rather do that with my kids.) And I’d feel weird asking them to get me a salad. (And honestly, I’d rather have what I make for myself than a bowl full of lettuce with Italian dressing.)

    That said, and maybe this is where the co-worker is coming from, it’d be nice if someone offered. Instead, people make comments that I’m just a “healthy eater type”. (Sure – whatever. I have my reasons for my diet and it’s none of their business.) I don’t mind planning around the once a year Cheesecake Factory visit (hello Chicken Bellagio), but the monthly meetings take their toll after a while. I can detach pretty well personally, but I don’t know that everyone else can or should have to. I think the co-worker would feel less ostracized if others made an effort. Instead of announcing the Italian restaurant, how about taking five minutes to talk to her. Just saying something like, “I’m not sure this will fit in your diet. If not, you can pick the location next time” would go a long way.

  18. Celeste*

    I’ve done a strict low carb plan, and I do agree that it can sometimes be hard to accommodate it at a restaurant. But the reality is, if you’re going to stick to this plan, you are the one who has to accept that you are going against the grain of carby society. Yes of course, restaurants are getting easier in this regard. But you really just need to learn to deal, and sometimes to just accept that at say, a pizza, subs, or burger place, you may just need to pick apart the dish into the sections you can eat and augment with a side salad, if available. Make it up to yourself at your next meal with meat or veggies that you like better.

  19. Observer*

    One important thing to note – you need to have your facts straight before you go off. Even if the restaurant has decent salads, which is NOT a given, salad can be pretty useless on a keto diet – it really depends on what does into the salad.

    If she’s telling you that she can’t find something at the restaurant believe her.

    Allison’s advice is still good. Just avoid going down the rout of telling her what’s ok on her diet.

    1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      This is true, a lot of vegetables don’t follow keto, like carrots, peas, and beans

    2. Choux*

      I think the idea is that there’s likely something she can eat, even if it’s not going to be fully satisfying or filling. A salad may not get her all the protein she needs, but at least it’s something she can chew on around other people, and she can eat what she actually needs to eat before or after.

      I don’t eat red meat or mayonnaise. I know if I go to a family barbecue and there’s no chicken on the menu, I’m likely to end up eating pasta salad, corn on the cob and maybe a cheeseburger-hold-the-burger. No hot dogs or burgers or potato salad for me. So I eat what I can and if I’m still hungry afterwards (likely), I can just stop and get something else. But at least there’s something I can nibble on so I’m not just sitting there with my arms crossed looking sad.

      1. Cath*

        This is what my husband does at family parties. Quietly has some Lay’s and watermelon and we stop somewhere on the way home.

      2. Psyche*

        Or just let her sit out. It doesn’t sound like something that should be mandatory. If you want her there, pick somewhere she can get a real meal. If you don’t want to accommodate her, let her not come.

      3. Keto Vegetarian*

        Exactly. I usually just have a handful of nuts and maybe a protein shake before I go out to eat. It allows me to enjoy eating in other people’s presence, but without the added stress of trying to make a nutritionally complete meal with limited resources. It’s no big deal. Honestly.

        1. Observer*

          Do you realize that this is very different when you are coming from home, and going home after the event and you have control of your schedule and stops?

          Having a non-meal at a work lunch probably means going hungry the rest of the day. It IS a big deal.

          I’m sorry, this kind of comment doesn’t come off any better than the CW’s rudeness. You know nothing about her. Don’t insist that you know what she can and can’t do.

          1. Holly*

            I’m not sure I understand how Keto Vegetarian’s comment is rude. Nowhere does it say that this person has to go home before going out to eat? People plan ahead all the time and bring things into work.

          2. Keto Vegetarian*

            I don’t see how my recommendation requires people go home? I keep an emergency supply of nuts and protein powder in my desk drawer and in my car. It requires a little bit of pre planning, but then, so do most medical conditions. I’m not saying it’s *ideal* for people to have to eat a less-than-filling meal and supplement with snacks. But I’m also a grown up who is entirely responsible for feeding myself every other meal of every other day of the week, and I don’t know why the opportunity to eat free food at a restaurant releases me from the requirement that I feed myself enough other food in my day so as not to go hungry? Unless she’s literally not allowed to eat unless on her lunch hour, and she has no opportunity to snack during travel between company and restaurant…. I’m not buying it.

            1. Observer*

              Eating before or after the meal often requires a lot more flexibility that is often available in work situations. And it also may wind up being more expensive for her. And that’s assuming that this was scheduled in advance.

              The fact the food (may) be free doesn’t make it ok for anyone to give her a hard time about it, tell her that she’s wrong about whether they can accommodate her, or just look down on her because she refused to go to the eatery.

          3. ginger ale for all*

            I don’t see the rudeness either. It was just a suggestion of what works for that poster. We see people making suggestions on what works for them all the time here.

            1. Observer*

              “What works for me” is one thing. “It really is not a big deal” is another.

      4. Observer*

        How does the OP know that though? Again, you are making the assumption that the coworker doesn’t know what she can manage.

        Also, insisting that someone go to a good will meal where the best they can do is find something “she can chew on around other people” is pretty gross. It can also be a big problem if she doesn’t get another chance to eat lunch or something filling. You’re basically demanding that she go hungry the rest of the day. This is not reasonable.

        1. Maggie*

          Going hungry for a day is fine (for most people). Going hungry for several days isn’t.

          Going hungry for a few hours? Not a big deal.

          But then I don’t understand the need for constant snacking and why people always have to have snacks around. Great for food manufacturers, lousy for the human race.

          1. Observer*

            Maybe going hungry for a few hours is not a big deal FOR YOU. But for an employer or supervisor to EXPECT that from staff? Especially when they are going to have to continue working? Totally unacceptable. And, by the way, for some people going hungry for a few hours IS a big deal.

          2. jenkins*

            My experience of keto (which is, yes, only my experience and may not apply to this woman) is that it actually becomes pretty easy to skip a meal or just have something light and nibbly. I can’t honestly imagine that she’d be having awful blood sugar crashes, energy lows or anything if she’s been eating keto for a year. That’s part of the point of doing it.

    3. Cucumberzucchini*

      I try to eat low-carb and there are typically things you can order at an Italian restaurant that would work for keto. Lettuce with most toppings and oil and vinegar as the dressing. Typically there is a chicken cooked in butter that you can eat without the pasta.

    4. PrgrmMgr*

      As a pescetarian, I hate catered office meals where the option for me is salad. The salads are usually pretty lame and not going to give me the energy I need to get through the afternoon.

    5. Keto Vegetarian*

      Maybe I just have no shame about customizing food… but you can absolutely make almost any salad keto friendly and filling. I get a garden salad and add extra eggs, cheese, ranch dressing, whatever is also on the menu elsewhere. Its a great day when theres avocado. Pick around the croutons or whatever other non-keto-friendly-veggies might be on it. Its seriously not a big deal. I’ve never had an issue and I constantly travel for work.

      1. Observer*

        Assuming the place is cooperative, have the right ingredients AND actually know what they are doing.

        AND assuming that the place chosen actually HAS decent salads.

        Neither of those is a universal given.

    6. FuzzFrogs*

      The OP also needs to rethink the idea that salad is sufficient even if it did fit the keto coworker’s diet. I have a vegetarian relative, and she has (rightly) put her foot down on going to places where her only food option is a salad. Because A) restaurants that only have salad for veggies/gluten-free people/etc. generally make pretty shitty salads, B) she then gets the privilege of spending restaurant prices for said mediocre, bland food, and C) she’s being asked to do this over and over and over again.

      If your coworkers only ever wanted to go to restaurants where the only thing you could eat was a ham and cheese sandwich, you’d start to get pissed, even if you liked ham and cheese sandwiches.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yeah, I will happily eat a salad a fair amount of the time (particularly if they have some kind of beet and goat cheese salad that fits my other dietary issues, because those are two of my favorite foods), but there’s a big difference between getting a salad at a place that focuses on having really good salads (and where a substantial part of the rest of the group is also “just getting a salad”) and getting some limp iceberg lettuce and a few carrot shavings with possibly no safe dressing while everyone else is getting something that’s actually tasty and/or filling.

        What I hate the most is having to pay inflated banquet prices to eat undressed lettuce. At my college reunion recently, I told my friend that I hadn’t bought a ticket to the big-deal Saturday Night Salmon Bake because I can not-eat-salmon for free many places around campus and felt no need to pay money to not-eat-salmon in the college cafeteria specifically. (I offered to meet up with him again after dinner.) I often want to socialize with people at these things, but it turns into a long dialogue with the caterer about what I can and can’t eat and me being the center of attention in an awkward way, followed by me getting my plate of undressed lettuce 20 minutes after else is served. (This is true even if I register in advance and fill out the section about food allergies. I do this dance every year at a specific convention banquet and am very sick of it and wish I could buy a non-eating ticket to it instead.)

    7. Dana B.S.*

      Yeah, the salad comment in the letter is so off base. Unless you know for a fact that the salads offered there are something more than just iceberg lettuce and 2 grape tomatoes, salad is not something you should ever suggest to a person with a special diet. Unless that person loves iceberg lettuce and expresses excitement at the prospect.

      Doesn’t change how annoying that coworker is though.

  20. bunniferous*

    One thing I thought of….my husband is diabetic so a keto friendly restaurant and a diabetic friendly restaurant are pretty equivalent. That said even an Italian restaurant should have something edible for both the above.

    1. Commercial Property Manager*

      Agreed. Tons of Italian restaurants offer antipasti platters that would be perfect for someone doing low-carb or diabetic-friendly. Even those that don’t offer salads with a selection of dressings, and ranch or bleu cheese are solid options that are generally pretty safe.

    2. Observer*

      That’s actually not true. I’m pretty sure that something like carrots is ok on a diabetic diet, not so in keto. Just as an example.

      I really think that it’s not fair, nor helpful to the OP, to focus on how wrong the CW is about her diet.

      Bottom line is that it doesn’t change the basic advice, which is to tell her to cut out being rude and demanding about what snacks / food people bring and to make a real effort to accommodate her when the OFFICE does something food related.

  21. Commercial Property Manager*

    I was relieved once it became clear that this letter was not about ME! I’ve been on keto for two-plus years, and lunch is served at team meetings at least once a month. I’ll admit: it’s been a struggle for me! This last month, the catering was fried breaded chicken and rolls… I treated myself to poke instead. :) But I tried not to make a scene out of it. I know my choices are my own.

    Unfortunately, I’m also a baker, so many of the office vices ALSO come from me… can’t really comment / judge others on what they eat when, in addition to being on a diet some people can’t stand, I am also the office sugar dealer. :)

    Shut down those judgy comments (to her OR from her) as soon as you hear them, though. Yikes.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Have you mentioned it to the person who’s ordering about your dietary needs though? You shouldn’t badger or put up such a show like the OP is talking about but there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking if something is doable in the future.

      I have had this happen at our BBQ’s. Just the last time someone said “Can we have macaroni salad instead next time?” since I always just grab potato salad. My response was “Sure we can, I’ll make sure it happens.”

      We cook hamburgers but if someone were to say “I don’t eat red meat, can we get turkey burgers?” I would grab that too. We already substitute in a veggie burger for the boss. You can speak about your requirements without being a pain in the butt!

      1. nonegiven*

        You guys and your BBQs. Until you mentioned hamburgers I was picturing slow smoked sliced brisket with bottled barbecue sauce. Also served with potato/macaroni salad.

        When we have hamburgers, we call it hamburgers or we call it grilling, also grilled hotdogs, sausages, or steaks.

      2. Commercial Property Manager*

        Yes, I have. Apparently the restaurant they initially planned to cater from (a local boxed lunch place) no longer does delivery, so a few days before the lunch, they announced they were using the fried chicken place as their back-up. Similar to another person in the comments, I looked at the menu and sent it to my husband so we could laugh and laugh… not a single thing on the menu was low-carb or diet friendly! This was already their back-up plan, so it wasn’t worth pushing back on. Paying $20 for poke salad delivery wasn’t the most affordable lunch, but it stopped me from breaking the diet I have been working so hard on. :)

  22. Guacamole Bob*

    Both sides definitely need to come at this in good faith and with a good attitude. People need to be included and be able to participate in group food things, but people with restrictions, especially voluntary ones, need to not be a pain about it.

    I’m a vegetarian – my coworkers need to not choose one of those steakhouses that has literally nothing on the menu I can eat, or the Chinese restaurant near us that just doesn’t understand vegetarian food. On the other hand, I need to be okay with having to ask to leave the bacon off a salad, or only having a couple of choices on the menu, and even occasionally making a meal of appetizers and sides.

    Now, sometimes people kick up a fuss in response to their needs not being met, and that’s fair. But only if their demands are reasonable given the restrictions they have. Accommodating life-threatening allergies is always reasonable. Insisting that you need to be able to eat at least 3/4 of the menu before you’ll go to a restaurant, or that every bit of office food is something you can eat, is not.

    1. Ms Chanadalar Bong*


      I eat Keto, and I somehow manage not to complain at work. I frequently have to lunch at a place that only has a set menu (no a la carte), and have to make that work for me – last week I snuck a picture of the menu and sent it to my husband with a cry laugh emoji because there was literally nothing on that menu that was remotely Keto friendly.

      Sometimes it sucks. And it always feels nice when someone recognizes those challenges and goes an extra mile to accommodate or include. But it goes both ways!

    2. goducks*

      Yes! As a near life-long vegetarian, I long ago learned that it’s unreasonable to expect workplace meals to be great meals for me. I do my best with whatever’s on the menu wherever we go, and I eat something before or after if necessary.
      The fact of the matter is that dietary restrictions or not, not every restaurant is going to work for everyone. If someone hates spicy food, and Thai is the chosen restaurant, they may find they have just a few options. It’s just life.

      1. professor*

        I can’t eat spicy food (medical issue) and actually Thai is GREAT- since they make the food fresh (lots of quick stir fry type options) you just tell them and they leave out the hot peppers….you just can’t order a curry, which is sad, but so many tasty options…

  23. Lily in NYC*

    Ugh how annoying! I follow the keto diet and I practice intermittent fasting. I just don’t go to group lunches unless there’s something I can eat (they aren’t mandatory and no one cares). When we have an in-office party, there is usually something I can eat, like cheese. However, I wouldn’t dream of complaining about it. It’s not like I’m going to suffer if there’s nothing for me to eat; I’m perfectly capable of going outside and walking 50 feet to a store if I’m hungry. The only person my team accommodates is a woman with a severe case of celiac disease; I have never known anyone to have it so bad. We make a big effort to have food she can eat. But she is also pragmatic about it and never complains. People really need to get over themselves.

    1. Observer*

      Well, that’s part of the problem. I’m not defending the CW, because a lot of the behavior really is obnoxious. On the other hand, the snark and grudging admission that she doesn’t HAVE to go to the restaurant, and the idea that THEY know better than the CW what she can eat is just not fair nor useful.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I am just not all that patient about people who have to make everything into an ordeal when it doesn’t have to be. That refers to the coworkers as well! I’m lucky that I work in an office where food is not a big deal; there’s no drama surrounding it.

  24. Cath*

    Just have all your team lunches at Chipotle! Only half joking–I was looking at their allergen list recently, and you could easily feed a vegetarian, vegan, celiac, and keto all at the same place.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Chipotle is a solid option for a lot of food choices/diets/restrictions, yes!

        1. CatCat*

          Even when I ate meat, I always got the vegetarian burrito because guac was NOT extra on it.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Chipotle is definitely keto if you get a burrito bowl with salad instead of rice and beans! It’s on “the list” of places one can eat when following the WOE (way of eating).

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It’s also on the Whole30 list, which means it would also be suitable for Paleo.

    4. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      I have a friend who is deathly allergic to dairy and Chipotle is her restaurant of choice too!

      1. Keto Vegetarian*

        Yes! I eat there all the time. Just get a salad, but skip the salad dressing. I think not all the meats are keto friendly. But I love that its so easy to customize and leave off not-keto-friendly foods. My other favorite spot to eat out keto is greek, because again, its kind of a “point at what you want” place.

      2. blackcat*

        Chipotle can be many things! And they can follow better allergy protocols for catering than in-store (easier to provide cross contamination).

      3. Lily in NYC*

        Here’s what I do: burrito bowl, salad instead of beans/rice, I get the peppers and onions too even though it adds a few carbs. then get your meat of choice, sour cream and cheese, voila! I skip the salsa because I hate cilantro and I guess tomatoes are not all that keto anyway. But there’s so little of it that I doubt it matters all that much.

    5. Aquawoman*

      I am a huge fan of a lot of the Chipotle-type places where you assemble your own ingredients. Makes life so much easier (I fortunately don’t have to worry about cross-contamination).

    6. professor*

      yup, I can’t eat anything resembling a meal there since every protein and the guac has spicy something in it (not a preference, a medical thing). Love the food, body does not….oh, and they gave me incorrect info on this, which I only figured out when I got sick….

    7. Dracarys*

      i can’t even eat chipotle….. the cross contamination is horrible. way too many times i’ve had hunks of meat in my food and cheese in the guac. i’ve honestly just crossed it off my list of places to eat.

  25. kwagner*

    OP I feel for you. I have a tenuous relationship to food at best and hearing someone comment on what I eat can and will ruin my whole day! It’s like she hasn’t earned the politeness of accommodating what seems like a choice. But then I remember that it’s a workplace, and crappy attitudes don’t deserve having their food choices taken away from them. And, while maybe this doesn’t apply so much to her because of said attitude, but missing out on lunches may come out to actually be missing out on team bonding/networking/whatever, especially since they’re monthly. Maybe your group could work together to create a list of a few standby restaurants that everyone can enjoy or at least order from. I can also personally vouch for the office doing a Postmates day!

  26. Just Elle*

    As someone who’s been on the keto diet for over a year for medical reasons, I do want to clarify two points:
    1) There are very real, very legitimate medical reasons to require strict adherence to a keto diet.
    2) Keto isn’t really like every other diet… you can’t just, you know, choose to eat a cookie, and then go back to your diet. Getting kicked out of ketosis is extremely disruptive and counter productive.

    That said…
    This person sounds truly insufferable.
    There are very, very few restaurants where I can’t find a keto friendly option (AND I’m a vegetarian, so honestly a meat eater has no excuse). But when I DO end up stuck, I also don’t make a thing about it. Today my whole department ordered Chick Fil A… so, I just packed my own lunch, just like I do literally every other day.
    2) Its really not ok to complain other people’s foods are tempting. You know whats not tempting to me? Being sick and unhealthy. It just sounds like she’s got a really negative attitude about dieting as a ‘restriction’ in general.

    1. Observer*

      so, I just packed my own lunch, just like I do literally every other day

      Did anyone tell you that “Well, I suppose you have the right to not join us”? That’s part of the problem here – the OP needs to not get bent out of shape by that.

      Its really not ok to complain other people’s foods are tempting.
      100% The OP should tell her to cut that out ASAP. Like THIS MINUTE.

  27. LilyP*

    It doesn’t sound like this is the case, but keep in mind that your coworker *could* have underlying health reasons for her diet that she doesn’t discuss at work. People shouldn’t be obligated to disclose their private health info in order to get their coworkers to respect their dietary requirements, so it’s best to default to taking all dietary restrictions seriously, without worrying about whether they have a “good enough reason”.

    But again, even if your coworker did have an allergy or religious restriction going on, she’d still be an ass for complaining about food her co-workers are bringing and eating on their own time!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Quoting The Ref, be still my heart *_*

      That’s typically my response to people who are being bratty about things as well. Or just a “So you won’t be having any, I assume. Anyone want a second piece?”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s not Christmas until someone says “Your present is a giant f’ing cannon. And you’re going to crawl in it.”

  28. Keto and Vegetarian*

    As a follower of the ketogenic diet because of medical conditions I do want to clarify 2 things:
    1) There are very real, very legitimate medical conditions that require strict adhearance to a keto diet.
    2) Keto isn’t really like every other diet… You can’t just, you know, eat a cookie, and then go back to your diet with only a few minor guilt points. Getting kicked out of ketosis is extremely disruptive and counterproductive. And, for people with serious medical conditions, a big health toll or even life threatening.

    That said, this person sounds truly insufferable.

    There are very, very few restaurants I can’t find something keto friendly to eat. Like seriously in 2 years the only place I’ve absolutely struck out is Chick Fil A and Taco Bell. And I’m a vegetarian, so meat eaters really should have an easier time.

    And I don’t take my frustrations about my medical limitations out on my co-workers who like cookies….

  29. MaureenSmith*

    I have a few allergies and my response to people occasionally bringing in treats was to add myself to the treat roster and bring in treats that I can eat too! If the coworker just wants to complain without contributing, that’s not acceptable. If the coworker wants to make constructive suggestions, bring in goodies on a similar frequency to others, etc that’s great!

    “I understand that you have some diet restrictions. Could you suggest some preferred restaurants / snacks so that they can be added to the rotation / suggestion list?” After that, feel free to shut down the comments. Maybe with “Could you suggest a more inclusive restaurant for the next outing?” + any other location or diet restrictions.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      Same. I always offer to bring something so I know there will be at least one that I can eat. Most friends/family know about my issues, but I would never dream of asking them to cater to me. So instead I sometimes bring along a pre-prepped meal just in case.

  30. This Old House*

    It can be so hard when people don’t even try! My office, for the first time ever, included “please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions” on a recent invitation, so I did. And was excited that I’d have something to eat for once! But then they did not do a single thing to accommodate anyone. (There were veggie burgers, but that’s it. Nothing GF, nothing Kosher, certainly nothing safe for anyone with any other allergies or intolerances. No ingredients available for anything served.) If what you mean is “Tell us if you need a vegetarian meal so we know how many to order,” SAY THAT! Don’t tease the rest of us and leave us starving because we were expecting to be able to eat but weren’t accommodated.

    1. Dagny*

      Sometimes, you need to educate people on your food restrictions. People who ask for something “kosher” may be given a hamburger without the cheese (because if your “kosher” restriction is that you do not eat meat and milk together, but do not mind the source of the meat, this is acceptable) or a veggie burger. Someone who asks for gluten-free may likewise be given a hamburger, no bun; this is fine for a lot of gluten-free and low-gluten people, but not acceptable for those with celiac’s.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      I’ve had so many places fail to even do that. Not even tiny, scrappy groups where I would understand that it’s all they can do to provide lunch *at all*.

      * A $$$ fundraiser for a national group you all know, with a keynote speaker who is a household name, held at the Hyatt Regency. I specified “vegetarian meal”, they brought me rubber chicken. I pointed it out, they took away the plate, and returned… the same plate, with mystery sauce where the chicken had been. Uh… I could have done that.

      * Conference for Fortune 500 company, held at city Convention Center. Those of us who wanted vegetarian meals indicated so on the sign-up sheet. Convention center was ASTONISHED at the desire for veg meals, had never heard of any such, and did a lot of frantic running around to produce *something*. Which was not good.

      * 14-hour day, 900 people, volunteering with a national organization you all know. Because of the circumstances of the event, we had no opportunities to wander off and get our own food. About a third of us signed up for veg and/or kosher meals. They provided… 900 ham sandwiches. I’m feeling light-headed all over again just remembering.

      All within the last two years. So I’m not carrying around grudges from the ’80s or something. A lot of places just seem to be extremely bad at providing any special meals at all. Even places like the Convention Center and Hyatt Regency which must deal with this every day of the year. I can’t even imagine if your restriction is less well-understood.

      1. Observer*

        14-hour day, 900 people, volunteering with a national organization you all know. Because of the circumstances of the event, we had no opportunities to wander off and get our own food. About a third of us signed up for veg and/or kosher meals. They provided… 900 ham sandwiches

        That’s inexcusable!

      2. Arielle*

        I went to a statewide conference last year where they had two box lunch options – they were both gluten free, one had chicken and one was vegan. I’m lactose-intolerant and I noticed the dessert for both boxes was the same, so I figured it was vegan/dairy-free and I ate it. It…was not.

      3. MissDisplaced*

        Ew, now that really does suck.
        I’ve organized events and we would always have vegetarian options, even if it was salad and pasta, which maybe isn’t the greatest, but it’s something.

        That caterer sucked!

  31. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox*

    Oh man…I can’t eat gluten — as in it makes me incredibly ill and can cause autoimmune thyroid flares for me; it’s not by choice — and I seriously just assume that I’ll need to plan ahead regarding lunch/snacks. For group lunches, I’ll usually ask where we’re going so I can check their menu out and be prepared. For snacks…I have a snack drawer. I always feel a little awkward when people feel bad for enjoying their gluteny goodies. Eat your cookies! I eat plenty at home (they’re just made with a different type of flour)! I honestly feel touched when someone remembers me and brings something I can eat to share, but I don’t expect it at all.

    Regarding restaurants: I will say that salads can get incredibly tedious if it’s the only thing I’m able to eat every time we go out, but that’s pretty rarely the case. And if it’s every once in awhile…who cares? If it was every week or something, I might just eat a bit beforehand at the office and go for the fellowship, but that’s just me.

    All that to say…this lady’s being a bit whiny. Being able to participate in team meals is one thing (and Alison is spot-on regarding acting as if all restrictions are the same). But snacks? If they aren’t being provided by the company, then…bring your own?

    1. Late to the game*

      Ditto! As someone with Celiac and a severe food allergy- I don’t feel bad or envious of your treats! I’m glad you get to enjoy them.

      The only thing I’m bitter about is how expensive the ONE BRAND of gluten free pasta I like is expensive and that’s not anyone’s fault :P

  32. Environmental Compliance*

    Once someone does it twice, I lose possibly 95% of my faith that it was a typo, and go straight to deliberate choice.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      Well, this was nested under a rude person, but I think it’s been deleted, so I’ll hang out down here in the oddly-nested comment section, lol.

  33. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    We need to respect everyone’s dietary requirements. Don’t separate “choice” and “requirement”. Since in the end, we can all get into the age old debate about religion being a “choice” at the end of the day.

    Alison’s advice is spot on in every way. The comments are unnecessary. Just like if someone comments on anything that doesn’t pertain to you. Someone’s clothes, someone’s hair, someone’s enjoyment of canoeing, whatever it is. Just keep your negativity to yourself in that way.

    You should always try to accommodate and not assume that they can just eat a salad though. That’s been hurtful to vegetarians for a long time now. Where you get the “Well they have side salads, jeez man.” kind of commentary. That’s not a filling meal needless to say.

    The new person could be given a list of restaurants to choose from, that accommodate the various dietary requirements among the group, that would help a lot! Then they do get to choose but sorry, your absolute favorite eatery Bread and Only Bread isn’t on there.

    1. Dagny*

      Right – most salads are not a meal. We don’t stop eating just because we do not eat meat.

      1. Jennifer*

        Salad is not a meal but most restaurants have vegetarian options now that are filling.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It still depends on your location and the restaurant in question. Lots of chains still struggle with this and a specialty place like a steakhouse isn’t going to have any options that aren’t just iceberg lettuce.

          1. Observer*

            What’s really interesting is that the place that introduced me to arugula is a steak house. Their steaks were absolutely top of the line (which was a problem for me because I needed chicken, which was a total afterthought for them), Their starches were limited to french fries or boiled rice, but their salad was wonderful. Arugula, baby spinach and another green that I don’t remember. And dressed with a VERY light touch.

            Just goes to show how weird this stuff can get.

            1. Keto Vegetarian*

              Yeah. Honesltly steak houses are the best. I get like, 4 sides and I’m in heaven. Super fancy salads. Brussels sprouts. Broccoli doused in garlic butter. Creamed spinach. Asparagus. And all of the Mac and cheese and potatoes a girl could want, if said girl eats carbs.

    2. OyHiOh*

      This is a good place for the story of the non profit I’ve been off and on affiliated with. At their donor’s banquet, they told me (who keeps kosher) and a handful of donors who are vegetarian, that there would, of course be a lovely vegetarian entree at the banquet.

      The caterer “forgot” to make the vegetarian entree. Those of us who did not eat meat, or pork specifically, were stuck with basic ceasar salad and very lightly dressed room temperature pasta. It was spectacularly awful and the donors I was seated with **did not** choose to donate to the program we were especially highlighting that night. I’m really not at all surprised.

  34. Colorado*

    I can see trying to best accommodate going out for meals, the best you can within reason, but it’s the complaining of other people’s choices. Why can’t she bring in keto friendly snacks? There are so many of them and her coworkers may be impressed by the variety that does exist in the keto realm. Next time she complains someone can say, “why don’t you bring something in and introduce us to your options”.

    My company is big on pizza lunches. When I’m trying to watch carbs, I don’t eat the pizza but I would never take that perk away from my coworkers or even mention anything about it. No one cares at all about your food and lifestyle choices until you make them care by making a big deal of it. It’s not the good care either, it’s the annoying I don’t care. I bring donuts on Friday because my coworkers enjoy them (and my kid too). I don’t eat donuts! It’s called it’s not always about you.

    1. dumb dumb*

      My company does lots of pizza lunches because there’s only three restaurant options in our town (pizza, chinese, sandwiches/deli). I suggested ordering some of the very nice, huge Antipasto salads from the pizza joint. Everyone loved the idea and now they order several salads to go with all the pizza.

  35. Jedi Squirrel*

    Question: what kind of keto snacks is this coworker bringing in? Any? One of the best ways to inform others of your dietary choices/restrictions is to share your food.

  36. Jennifer*

    Sigh…every woman should read the article in the NYT about wellness scams. We spend far too much time talking about dieting in general.

    I would think most places have something that will accommodate her diet. The options are going to be more limited but that’s a choice SHE made. At the Italian place she could have salad with chicken or fish as a topping for protein.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I just read a wonderful article that exposed this Keto stuff for what it is. It was started for kids with seizures.

      Sadly people still will believe whatever they want if it tricks their minds into thinking it’s the right thing to do, so it’s one of those things that will never away. Like cults and the Kardashians.

      1. LLG612*

        …it’s for a lot more medical conditions than just seizures. My neurologist is the one who recommended it. I have no idea how this is a scam since it’s free to live a ketogenic lifestyle (no meal replacements, supplements, guides needed) and I can tell you that it absolutely is life-changing for those of us with some forms of chronic illness, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Sure, there are conditions it’s good for. Including yours, since it’s told to you by a physician. I said it was started for kids with seizures, so of course they probably linked it to other illnesses that are neurologically based over the years.

          Just like people are actually allergic to gluten. Those people need gluten free to function and not be in absolute agony. Yet without those conditions, it’s a fad diet and can cause massive internal issues in the long run.

          Every has risk vs reward attached to it. It’s what the entire medical world is about. So if your reward outweighs the risks, then it’s the right choice. It’s why doctors don’t just prescribe things willynilly, including dietary restrictions.

          1. Ismone*

            Eating gluten-free is not harmful to anyone’s health, nor does it cause “internal issues” whatever that means.

            Wheat is not essential—no one died from not eating it or its components.

        2. Jennifer*

          It’s a scam in the sense that so many women are on diet plans or cleanses they don’t really need and spend countless hours talking about it instead of enjoying food like more men do. We have been scammed by this industry into thinking we need all of these fancy diet plans to be healthy when it’s far from true.

          If a doctor put you on the diet, obviously it’s not a scam.

        3. New Job So Much Better*

          Agreed. The only thing possibly scammy may be marketers who pop up with miracle-ketone-burning supplements for $99. Following the ketogenic diet is very healthy for most of us.

  37. Amber Rose*

    This type of person is why I kinda resent the keto diet. If it’s making you THAT miserable, and you don’t have a medical requirement to not eat carbs, then you’re torturing yourself and everyone around you to no purpose. Diets only work if they’re sustainable, and a diet that makes you miserable and that you can’t stand if everyone around you is not also doing the same one so as to save you from temptation, is not sustainable. This person is going to fail out of her diet and blame everyone around her.

    People see all the hype about how keto is this magic diet that guarantees you’ll lose a ton of weight and throw themselves into it without doing the research.

    1. Observer*

      This has nothing to do with the keto diet. Did you notice how many people on the keto diet responded and said they would not do this?

      On the other hand, we’ve had more than one story about people who are obnoxious about their particular diet. She’s being obnoxious because that’s who she is not because of some magical property of the keto diet.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I never said it was about the keto diet, aside from the fact that the extremely heavy marketing for it is what attracts annoying people like this who don’t do the research to make sure it’s right for them. Just like Atkins and South Beach and all those other diets. There’s a certain kind of person who sees the promises and doesn’t consider the sacrifices.

  38. Checkert*

    I am following Keto by choice and work for an organization where the running joke is ‘you’ll never go hungry’. I never put down my food restrictions because a. they’re my own choice and b. even if there’s something I can’t eat there I can normally find a way to make it something I can eat. Does this mean I’m deconstructing food to eliminate the portion that doesn’t fit my diet? Yup. Does this mean that sometimes I come with my own snacks or go find my own food? Even bigger yup. But it’s no one’s problem but my own.

    1. Checkert*

      Also, for what it’s worth, keto has helped me lose weight, lowered my blood pressure and helps keep my autoimmune disorder in check. Do I still cheat? Yup, I like food and beer too much. But I try to keep it clean as much as possible. There have also been times when I’ve ‘cheated’ because I’m in a work setting with no options. Luckily for me this diet is not to keep something life altering at bay (autoimmune is one that affects appearances only).

  39. Librarianne*

    I find it weird but sweet when people apologize for eating, say, ribs around me. If I couldn’t handle the sight of meat, I’d have to become a hermit!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This kind of apology is courtesy of the extremists that have tainted vegetarian/veganism over the course of history. So everyone assumes you’re going to setup a slideshow of slaughter houses and throw red paint on them one day out of the blue because you saw them eat meat.

  40. PrgrmMgr*

    What are reasonable limits on accommodating dietary preferences? I work in a diverse area and meals out and catered in often come from small, immigrant owned restaurants. I feel slighted when there’s no vegetarian main or substantial sides (which is surprisingly common with some of these businesses – my former employer went through phases of visiting a local churrascaria / meat place and ordering from a jerk chicken company), but not when it’s just a cuisine I don’t care for. I’ve also heard plenty of times that the food that smells like my grandmother’s house stinks, so I never speak up against immigrant cuisines because I realize it’s comforting to someone.

    I really wish work meals would go away.

    1. Mujj*

      I feel you re: vegetarian options. Luckily my company as a whole is awesome about it, but my boss not so much. I don’t know if he just forgets, doesn’t care, or is actively hostile against vegetarians. He always picks places for team lunches that are specifically meat-oriented. I never say anything, though, and just order some vegetable sides or the caesar salad because I don’t want to be “that” vegetarian. I don’t think picking a place with a couple decent veggie options is such a hardship.

    2. MuseumChick*

      There was a letter basically about this a while ago:

      I do think it’s the responsibility of the business owner to make sure there are options for at a minimum vegetarians. At the same time, if someone has a very specific allergy or food restriction, they need to speak up and request a special meal, or if that is not an option (which the company should absolutely fight for with any restaurant they work with) bring their own meal.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The reasonable approach is to make your dietary requirements known. So if they say “Hey we’re ordering in lunch today, everyone!” you speak up and say “Will there being any vegetarian options?” and it’s on them to be decent humans who take that into consideration. If they make it known they won’t accommodate you, then that’s on them and they stink big time.

      Most of the time in this case, I bet your employer just isn’t thinking about it because you haven’t made it known to them or they may simply forget. If you casually mention it and give them recommendations [recommendations would be awesome “There’s a German deli down the road with awesome potato salad! I don’t know about their other options but they are really popular!” kind of thing.

      I’m sorry that this perk isn’t a perk for you and it’s stressful =( But work meals make a lot of people so happy, it’s something that really shouldn’t go away just because of the people who struggle with them for various reasons. I say this as a person with an eating disorder or couldn’t even eat in front of her partner for the first year we were together due to my mental block. I would never wish away meals for others though, it really brings everyone together if it’s done correctly.

      We do BBQ’s and everyone is obsessed with them. I’d hate to stop those because someone is conflicted at asking if we could get something they like. Instead we just all need to be accepting and understanding that people are different and require different things, not just food wise.

  41. Augusta Hawkins Elton*

    With regard to the new people picking lunch places, I am sure if you asked them to choose from a list of keto-friendly restaurants, all would happily oblige. They’re new, so they want to make friends, not cause problems with something as minor as a restaurant choice (we hope!).

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It also relieves a lot of pressure, I’d say. That could be my personal spin of course.

      If someone asks me where to eat, just pick something right now, off the list in your head, I’ll freeze up. So being told “Hey what sounds good, A, B, C or D?” it makes things so much easier to just pick from that list than figure it out myself.

  42. agnes*

    good manners are always appropriate. And good manners is that you don’t make yourself feel better by making other people feel worse.

  43. Late to the game*

    I have celiac and a severe food allergy, so I’ve called around to local restaurants, spoke to management, and made note of which places would allow me to bring in my own sandwich and gave the list to my boss. I call before each lunch to confirm, and I always order a bottled drink and tip 2-3 dollars for taking up the space.

    It is possible to bring your own food politely as long as you’re upfront and honest.

  44. MuseumChick*

    I’m late to the party today. I think Alison is being a *bit* to soft here. Your co-worker’s behavior is extremely rude and obnoxious. I would be a bit more forceful. Like pulling her aside after one of these outbursts and saying something like, “Jane, we will also try our hardest to accommodate your diet, just as we would for anyone. However, the comments you have been making regarding other people’s food are inappropriate and need to stop. There will be times when there are snacks that don;t suite your diet or when someone chooses a restaurant that doesn’t have a lot of option for you. When those things happen I need you to conduct yourself in a better manner than what I have been seeing.”

    As a side note, I’ve been on a healthy eating saga for about a year. The only time I talk about is when my co-workers invite me lunch. I’ll look over the menu and if there are not any healthy option I’ll opt out with a “Maybe next time, have fun!”

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Unless the OP has authority to speak to Jane like that, I wouldn’t recommend going so hard on her. This is something a manager could get away with telling someone to stop doing but just your average coworker is going to create even more tension and can really drag down the place even further than Jane is doing with her poor behavior.

      I would respond to anyone who is on my level with a sharp “Don’t ever speak to me like that again, you are not my boss.” Which will just escalate the entire thing even further, which may in turn get the OP in hot water depending on what side her manager falls on. Or it could just explode and make the tension that much worse if the manager doesn’t want to be involved and make a decision.

  45. Anon for this one*

    Yes. My son is legally blind and can’t drive. If his work has a fun bonding event but he has to drive himself, that’s wrong — they’ve left him out. But if he can get a ride from a colleague (or, better, the boss or event organizer makes sure he can get a ride), no complaints just because he doesn’t get the pleasure of driving. (I’m a Californian, I mean that seriously!)

    1. Former Employee*

      I’m sorry your son is legally blind. I can’t imagine how anyone organizing an event from work wouldn’t make sure he has a ride. In fact, most younger people are environmentally conscious these days and should be carpooling to events as much as possible.

  46. Ciela*

    My husband has been advised to follow a low-sodium diet. It is a choice, eat less salt, or end up back in the ICU. So when we do work lunches, and are alerted on a Monday, “Wednesday we’re ordering from Fancy Burger Palace” we have time to look at the menu and choose something he can eat. Being given a lunch list at 11 am, and told we’re ordering from Taco Torrent NOW, usually results in him not getting anything, because there is no time to review the nutrition facts. He might look wistfully at the tacos or pizza, but never complains that everyone else is eating something he can’t. So he’s trying not to be THAT person.
    And then I have family members who are on a nuts and berries diet. Oh, I’m sorry, “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle”. Um yeah, the rest of us are having turkey for Thanksgiving. Feel free to bring your nuts and berries.

  47. Jennifer Juniper*

    Ugh! My sympathies. OP! She sounds like a pain in the arse.

    As for restaurants, most places now have menus online. Hand your coworker the website address for the restaurant and she can look up something to eat for herself ahead of time. If the place doesn’t have a website, hand her the phone number and have her call them herself.

    And, yes, her comments about other people’s food are rude and unprofessional. She needs to shut up yesterday.

  48. Lilysparrow*

    I have a feeling this co-worker is going to be just as much work no matter what diet she’s on.

    There are a lot of people with eating disorders, and a LOT, a lot of people who have disordered relationships with food, that don’t rise to the level of a diagnosable condition.

    Obsession with the rules of what you can and can’t eat, accompanied by an inordinate interest in what everyone else is eating, distress over not having the “correct” food available, and a strong emotional investment in being able to perform your rules correctly, are all signs of disordered eating behavior.

    It doesn’t matter what the rules are. There are emotionally healthy people who practice Keto, and veganism, and Paleo, and all sorts of special diets. And there are disordered people who do the same. But the disordered ones are the loudest. And the most likely to hop infuriatingly from one “perfect” diet to another.

    And there is some correlation between nutrient deficiencies and fixations on food, so the more out of whack a person’s eating gets, the more they’re liable to go on and on about it.

    The best thing is to have a wide variety of official snacks/meals available, and firmly hand responsibility for her personal/unofficial food back to her.

    Besides, the minute you solve the Keto problem, like as not she’ll switch to something else.

  49. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    For the first time ever since I began reading this site, I must disagree with your answer. Going on a food-restricted diet like Keto is a choice unlike a person with diabetes or Crohn’s disease. The person’s health will not suffer any harm if they eat a portion of food that they were consuming before the diet. I work in food and hospitality and we provide regular meals, vegetarian, vegan, Halal, lactose-intolerant, celiac and all allergies that we are notified about. We can prepare up to 100 meals a day and we drew a line in the sand when it came to requests for diets like Keto. Instead of preparing 100 meals we were preparing 70 plus 30 very specific diet oriented ones. The final straw came when several special diets were ordered and then left untouched because the dieters decided the main option was too good to pass up even if it meant “cheating” on their diet. It’s the dieter’s choice to restrict their food and they should be willing to make their own accommodations if they are serious about it. Yes, it sucks not to partake in some office treats but that is a choice the dieter made. I’m willing to die on the hill of double chocolate cake with mocha buttercream icing.

    1. Observer*

      The person’s health will not suffer any harm if they eat a portion of food that they were consuming before the diet

      That is utterly incorrect. Maintaining ketosis requires close to zero carbs. It doesn’t matter what they ate before they went on the diet. This diet measurably changes blood chemistry, and it requires that EVERY meal be in tune.

      Now, it happens to be true that there are a lot of people for whom ketosis is actually not helpful and may actually be harmful. But you have no idea who falls into that category.

      You can decide to accommodate or not – that’s totally up to you. But don’t take it one yourself to decide whose diet is “worthy” and which diet is ok to “cheat” on.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        I’m referring to someone making a choice based on preference not on medical necessity. We ask people is this a preference or allergy etc because we take the time to prepare a meal free from gluten contamination with dedicated tools and equipment to then see that same person order the non-gluten free dessert. If you don’t take your own diet seriously, don’t expect that other people will.

        1. Observer*

          Firstly, you don’t know whether the CW actually has a medical issue or not – it’s not like the OP knows, even though that’s what they say.

          Also, maintaining ketosis works the same way whether you have a medical condition or not. So, having a meal that out of compliance IS an issue.

    2. Good luck with that*

      No, breaking a restrictive diet is *not* harmless in some cases.
      Someone who has been avoiding fatty foods diligently, whether for diagnosed gallbladder disease or hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) or just precautionary/optional reasons, can become genuinely sick from having a greasy burger or slice of pizza – as in doubled over in pain, throwing up, sick.
      Been there, done that: don’t tell me that just because I used to eat red meat often I should be able to do it now, after a year of chicken and fish. A sudden intake of simple carbohydrates might have equally disastrous results on someone else.
      Also, you don’t know why your colleague is on a diet “by choice”. Maybe they don’t think their diabetes or IBS or gout is any of your business. Because. It. Isn’t.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        We take food allergies and dietary restrictions seriously to the point where we don’t even allow peanut butter or tree nuts in the kitchen. Just please don’t order a special meal and then not eat it because the other options look so much better. I’ve never seen a person with celiac decide to have the main course lasagne instead of the custom ordered contaminant free meal prepared for them. But at the end of meal service, we can find several meals labeled with specific dietary requirements that have gone untouched and the persons who requested them, happily eating the same dishes as everyone else.

        1. CustServGirl*

          In that instance, it’s clear that the person claiming to have celiac’s disease was actually just gluten-avoidant. I TOTALLY get your frustration, but maybe if there is a need to ask about diets/allergies, maybe include the questions “Will cross-contamination be an issue? “Is this a preference or ethical/medical need?” (I’m sure they can be worded better)- this may give you a better indication of how “serious” a diet is, and you can even express that preparing special meals that then get ignored does cause your kitchen staff some hardship and you’d like to minimize that.

        2. Observer*

          I get your frustration about people asking for accommodations and then essentially throwing them in the garbage. But that doesn’t make you an expert on what diets are “legitimate” and which people can “cheat” or not.

          Please stop insisting that people whose issues don’t meet your definition of need really don’t have a need and can eat what YOU say they can eat without harm.

          Don’t accommodate what you can’t accommodate. Just be up front about it and stop judging people’s “worthiness”.

        3. Carlie*

          My nut-allergy household salutes you!
          There may be an easy fix for the meal switchers: don’t label the meals with the dietary requirements, label them with the people’s names. If you have a buffet line, package the special orders and put those name-labeled packaged meals right at the front. If it’s a sit-down with waiters, have everyone have a pre-printed card to display that shows if they requested a special meal. Basically, force everyone to hold to what they requested. This also helps people with the restrictions protect their food supply from everyone else saying “Oh, that looks good” and leaving none for the people who need it. I attend several conferences that work this way, and it seems to work fine.

    3. Former Employee*

      I hope that drawing the line did not mean you stopped preparing vegan and vegetarian meals. If that were the case, I would not be able to eat at a function your company handled. I have been vegetarian most of my adult life and am now close to being vegan. When I am asked to specify what type of meal I want, I tend to say vegan because I have found that people seem to include some non-vegetarian foods in with the vegetarian choice. While many people are not aware of this, it is almost impossible to tell what ingredients are in certain food items that the average person would deem to be vegetarian. I would skip a meal before I would eat anything that might possibly be something that is not truly vegetarian or vegan.

      Separately, someone mentioned the issue of a vegetarian wearing leather shoes. I would be happy to avoid leather shoes, but I have arthritis and other problems with my feet and have to wear shoes that work for me. I try to get supportive shoes that are mostly mesh with very little leather whenever possible. When it comes to “fun shoes”, I get slides/flip flops that are made of synthetic materials.

    4. TechWorker*

      Yeah, the problem is that it’s not a clear slope between ‘this is vital for medical reasons’ and ‘this is just a choice that has no impact if they eat something else’.

      Some people who are gluten free will get seriously ill if they have gluten. Others will be in mild discomfort. Others sure are doing it because it sounds good and are unlikely to have any ill effect – but it’s not your job to try to judge who is in which category.

      Plus basically all religious and ethical dietary restrictions are ‘a choice’ too so basically the only reasonable place to draw the line is to respect all dietary choices.

  50. Xanna*

    I’ve been vegetarian pretty much my whole life, and vegan for about 10. I’m in my early 20s now, and honestly, the way people perceive me and my diet is so radically different now than it was 5 years ago, and from a small, conservative-leaning town to a fairly progressive city on the west coast. This doesn’t pertain directly to OP’s situation – but it seems like a lot of folks here have coworkers whose food things are a big topic of conversation/conflict – and I think maybe this insight could be helpful in understanding where people’s weird behaviour (because imho humans are nearly all at least a little weird in terms of eating) is coming from.

    All growing up – people asked me to “just eat around the meat” or insisted that soups made with chicken broth were somehow vegetarian, they didn’t mean any harm, but this doesn’t really cut it for most people following this type of eating plan. That said, for years that’s been the normal – whenever I’d go anywhere where food was the main event, it would be a whole conversation/confrontation, and involve a lot of peacemaking/explanation to convey why I couldn’t eat this, or assure them me eating a side salad was fine, or promise my diet wasn’t a referendum on their choice of food, or a lack of gratitude for their effort to provide something they assumed would be ok for me. Whenever you go against the grain, I think a certain amount of labour associated with explaining/defending the way you choose to live is fairly expected – if someone’s not vegan, I don’t expect them to realize why I can’t eat marshmallows, or that just because it says veggie burger on the menu, it might still have eggs in it – and giving a quick explanation about what my needs are is a pretty low stakes way to sort out a situation that’s tenable for everyone. Since moving somewhere where alternative eating schemes (be it veganism, keto, if, gluten-free) are way more common, it seems like everyone “gets” how it works and what exactly these types of restrictions entail more intuitively – I’ve had a boss specifically go to wholefoods and buy me a vegan cake for my birthday (one of the kindest workplace gestures ever, it made me feel so happy and valued which is silly but still very real), menus are typically labelled with what’s safe in terms of gluten/allergens/dairy/ect., and people tend not to be shocked or prying when what I eat comes up, probably because everyone’s brother’s neighbour’s cousin is doing some weird diet thing and it’s kind of terribly boring to talk about. I think for people who come from places like where I live now, or even lots people who started eating vegan/paleo/keto in the last 5ish years, this level of understanding/acceptance/accessibility would be the default.

    For me, the change has been pretty neat – seeing something that’s pretty essential to my personal code of ethics in everyday life go from some weirdo fringe thing (y’all I couldn’t buy soymilk within 15 miles of the place I grew up) to something that’s accepted, accommodated and seeing a lot of amazing innovation and expansion is pretty amazing. I can eat pretty much everywhere in my new city, and if I tell someone I’m vegan, they have the lexicon to know what I’m asking for in terms of ingredients. However, I think for people who aren’t familiar with the way these lifestyle choices were viewed (mysterious, demanding, ambiguously suspicious) pretty unanimously not that long ago and how far people have come in terms of acceptance – anything perceived as even a little pushback towards their food needs would read as !discriminatory! or !backwards!, rather than just how things tend to be when you go against the grain in regards to something that tends to be a big part of culture/socializing. I think maybe people internalize this and get defensive, and it comes out in a weird, aggressive, demanding way where they still see themselves as excluded and victimized even when it’s not really the case, and instead, they’re in fact the one who’s making it a thing.

    I think the reasons why someone is eating what they do are a weird nuance here – I don’t have a religion, so it feels weird to compare my diet to a religious restriction, but the way I eat is massively tied to what I believe is ethically right, and to be transparent, it’s easy to prickle at jokey comments about my diet from people I don’t have that level of comfort with – because they don’t just feel like they’re about food, they feel like they’re about me. I generally am pretty private about what I eat, especially in a situation where I don’t know people well, and just want to have a snack and get on with it, because honestly the reasons why are pretty sincerely held and intense in a way that doesn’t feel appropriate to launch into unless someone is looking for an actual conversation about how I see and interact with my world – it’s hard to be chill about things that are important to you and lots of people can be really dismissive of. I’ve seen some comments here about “health/weightloss/casual” vegans being less obnoxious than those who chose it for ideological reasons, and I get that people’s intensity about their choices can be alienating, but I also think it’s important to realize it might be more of a problem of the type of discussion that’s inappropriately polarizing in the workplace rather than a broader pattern of a certain kind of person/belief system being generally irritating, as sometimes it can veer into a weird resentment for people caring about things that you don’t, which doesn’t seem super productive. When you’re talking about people making fairly radical choices about their body/health/life, especially over longer periods – I feel like it feels more analogous to someone who doesn’t drink alcohol – even if it’s not based on health or religion reasons, there’s a decent chance their reasoning goes fairly deep, and being flippant or jokey about it (like suggesting they could bring a waterbottle on a work retreat to a whiskey tasting, or that the sangria is fine since it’s mostly juice, or constantly drawing attention to them not drinking) would be considered pretty objectionable. Obviously, their choice shouldn’t mean that nobody is allowed to ever to consume alcohol in a work context (christmas part, happy hour, whatever) – but a little bit of empathy to the fact it’s important to them, even if you don’t totally get it goes a long way in terms of fostering mutual respect. Sure, some people avoid certain foods for “silly reasons”/”following trends”/”today show medical advice” but it’s very much not just a food thing for me, and a lot of other people who follow certain eating patterns. I think people who have a more typical relationship with eating maybe miss how emotional it can feel, which leads to weird stressful miscommunications and reactions.

    It’s hard when people won’t st(heck)u about how they eat, but at the same time, I think it’s important to recognize food can have a pretty weird link to our ideas of our own autonomy – and it’s easy for talking about food to actually be a proxy for talking about something else – be it control, or morals, or culture. This isn’t to say this lady should just carry on – obviously it sounds like this topic of conversation isn’t going to be super productive and someone should speak to her about not being a lunch antagonist, or ask her directly what she needs in order for food to stop being this reoccurring office drama, but as more and more people pick up less mainstream ways of eating, I think understanding how deep this stuff can go is in the benefit of having a healthier coexistence with people who’s life choices you’d never chose for yourself, but might still be lovely to spend time with/work productively with after all the food talk has been put to bed. Sorry this has been a novel – procrastinating on one paper apparently made me write a whole other one in these comments whoops

    1. Sailor*

      Can I get a TLDR for this wall of text that has absolutely nothing to do with the question at hand? Thanks!

      1. Xanna*

        TLDR; sometimes if you try to get a bit of understanding of how other people experience the world instead of just hoping they’ll magically wake up and quit acting differently than you, it helps you reframe their annoying behaviour in a way that’s less judgmental and reactionary which while less satisfying than being snarky is probably in the best interest of creating a less sucky workplace. Thanks!

    2. Fashionable Pumpkin*

      I found this to be relevant and insightful. Thank you for taking the time to write all this out!

  51. staceyizme*

    The comments would be irritating, but you should be able to tune them out unless she’s hovering over your plate and casting a longing glance at your fettuccini alfredo. As for the impact on others, that’s for her manager to deal with. As long as she’s not shaming people or giving out bad health advice, it’s probably more of an irritant than an issue, per se.

  52. Neg Nance*

    How ridiculous that we have gotten to the point where the majority is hijacked by a few hypochondriacs complaining about usually nonexistent or fad disorders (eg, fewer than one percent of the population has celiac disease) that require complicated eating limitations. Why should every event that involves lunch entail having to jump through hoops, forcing unfortunate colleagues to eat in or banning them from going to the place of their choice? I can’t imagine being so self-centered.

    1. CustServGirl*

      Some people buy into fads, others follow special diets (such as gluten-free) because they find that it makes them feel better, even if there isn’t a medical reason for it. People thrive on very different diets and have all sorts of different eating habits, so I think the kind thing to do is accept the individual at their word “I don’t eat gluten”, “I avoid dairy”, I only eat fish on every other full moon” and do what you can to include them and provide a heads up as to what the menu or event will be.

    2. Observer*

      (eg, fewer than one percent of the population has celiac disease)

      This kind of misinformation is actually one of the reasons why fad diets take hold so easily. Yes, less than one percent of the population in the US gets diagnosed with celiac. But there is good evidence that the disease is badly under-diagnosed. And one of the problems is that the test has some significant limitations (so significant that there is active work on finding a test that doesn’t have these problems.) What makes the problem worse that people getting the test are often not given the correct information, and the can totally mess up the results. On top of which, doctors often don’t test for celiac when they should for all sorts of reasons, (I recall a commenter here once saying the their doctor refused to test because “people with celiac are skinny” and they weren’t!)

      On top of that, there is something called Non-celiac Gluten sensitivity. It’s a real thing.

  53. CustServGirl*

    As someone who has a diet comprised of various self-imposed restrictions ( I don’t eat red meat, sometimes follow Whole30, avoid dairy, etc.) I always appreciate being asked what I want or being invited to contribute or order my own food. I am very used to attending events where there isn’t anything I can eat, and I never make a fuss about it. Personally, your coworker’s responses seem immature. If she’s committed to the keto diet, she needs to accept that it will sometimes make social eating situations challenging or impossible. Keep a snack nearby, and suck it up and deal.
    However, as much as you can (or whoever in your office plans catering, work meals, etc.), do try to include her. See if she can give a list of a few “go-to meals” so the event planner can reference that when the need arises.

  54. Oaktree*

    If it’s not a medical reason, and there’s SOMETHING on the menu, anything, the person can eat, they need to suck it up and either bow out of the lunch, or go and not eat/order what they can eat.

    I keep kosher and this is just how it is. I don’t whine about being brought to a sausage restaurant where there’s one (1) thing I can order; I just act like an adult and deal with it. For someone who has chosen to be gluten free or follow the keto diet or whatever for non-medical reasons to whine and moan about how hard it is, and bring attention to others’ food, when this is something they CHOSE TO DO, is absurd and shouldn’t be tolerated.

    1. Oaktree*

      hit enter too soon.

      Plenty of the rest of us have managed it, whether we have a medical restriction or are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Jain (all religions with dietary restrictions).

      If you order catering for the office, you should accommodate. If you organize a team lunch out, you should do your best to ensure there’s something everyone can eat. But beyond that, the onus is on the individual with the restriction to find a way to deal with it. Full stop.

  55. Lyra Silvertongue*

    As someone whose dietary restrictions sometimes leave me hungry, I feel for this person in an accommodation sense, but the comments that OP lists – being judgmental about other people’s food, being moralistic about food in general, claiming the smell of other people’s snacks make her feel sick when it’s obviously rooted in disgust/fear of the nutritional/calorific value rather than genuine nausea – would be more than enough to make me feel shitty and maybe trigger my own disordered eating issues. I wonder if anybody in OP’s office is feeling that way. Overzealous dieting behaviours get a societal pass often since they’re so normalized, but it’s a form of disordered eating. Moralistic food discourse has no place in the workplace.

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