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How to respectfully and assertively share your food preferences and limits


It’s Thanksgiving, and your mother-in-law has prepared her signature stuffing recipe. She’s so proud of the dish, but you’re gluten-intolerant. There are two choices: Either eat the stuffing, and then suffer the rest of the night. Or you can ignore it and get the low-key criticism for many years. But there’s another choice.

For advice, we spoke with experts about sharing your preferences and limitations in food with family and friends during the holiday season. Whether you’re going to your work holiday party or you’re meeting your partner’s family for the first time, these tips and quick scripts have you covered.

This is a difficult truth to accept

If your eating style strays from the group, it may feel impossible to partake in a communal meal without upsetting someone — especially since cooking a special dish or feeding others is how some people show love.

“Food is so much more than just fuel,” said registered dietitian Abby Langer. “It’s family, it’s community, it’s personal. People often see the reluctance to eat something as personally offensive.”

But we don’t have to sacrifice our health or ethics. It doesn’t have to be scary for us to voice our opinion, communicate our preferences and establish boundaries.




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