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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners: Public dieting puts damper on outings

Judith Martin The Spokesman-Review

Dear Miss Manners: Dieting in public is a serious etiquette problem in a society that has made saints of women who wear a size 2. It is rude and offensive for a person to attend a joyous food-related outing and have one person spoil the trip by ordering “a small salad.”

Public dieting casts a pall of misery over any such occasion. The argument that the outing is about the fellowship is only partially true – the fellowship is enjoying a good meal together. The occasion is about the food, and no matter how one tries, it is as impossible not to notice how little that emaciated person is eating any more than one could not help but notice an oozing sore on her hand.

Holiday dinners and meals out with friends are a time, if not to eat heartily, to at least to eat well. If one must diet in public, it should be done with absolute discretion and must involve a variety of tasty foods chosen from what has been provided. If the dieter wants a diet soda, she should ask for it quietly, as though requesting something with which to take medication and have it poured into a glass to ensure that the nature of the drink is not obvious.

If a person is on a super-restricted diet that requires she eat abnormally, she needs to stay home.

Gentle Reader: That part about how you try not to notice what other people are eating – Miss Manners suggests that you try harder. A lot harder.

Monitoring what other people eat is a good way to ruin a holiday or gathering of friends

But after you stated your desire to ostracize everyone with medical or religious food restrictions, Miss Manners banned you from any discussion about what constitutes fellowship.