Receiving Unsolicited Food Advice From Strangers

My dog and I have a morning routine.

I get up early while my husband gets ready for work and drink a cup of coffee. My dog is snuggly in the morning and curls up next to me on the couch as I catch up on my blog list, surf my favorite news sites, and work on posts.

Yup. Just another excuse to sneak in a dog picture;)

Yesterday morning, I read through a Chowhound thread about people receiving Unwanted Advice at the Store and it made me chuckle. The woman who started the thread shares how a random man approached her in a grocery store. He told her the cookies in her basket were unhealthy and that she shouldn’t eat them because she would gain weight. The thread expands to a discussion of over 200 replies and it made me reflect upon my own strange encounters with strangers who offered unsolicited food advice.

The first time I received unsolicited advice occurred last year while I was riding in the elevator at work returning to my desk after a snack break. A man stared at the bagel in my hand and sternly informed me that I shouldn’t have put so much cream cheese on it, because cream cheese is fatty. The words, “I don’t care,” flew through my lips before I could stop them, and then I stepped off the elevator. I worried that my boss would be upset with me since he was a client, but she just laughed.

The second time happened during a grocery shopping trip. Now, I love grocery shopping but I hate pushing carts. I’ll do just about anything to avoid pushing one, to the point of injuring my back while lugging around two baskets. Carts are cumbersome and hard to steer. Plus, I push a cart like I drive, which is impatiently.

This must have been a major shopping trip because I parked my cart in an open space along an aisle and left my purse in the front basket. In my defense, I never really turn my back on my purse. It’s fluorescent pink and I can see it from the corner of my eye. Plus, if I spotted someone poking around my cart, odds are in my favor of outrunning most anyone who tried to steal it.

A gentleman approached me in the dairy aisle to say that I should not leave my purse in my cart because someone could steal it.

“Ok, thanks.” I respond. He doesn’t go away.

“Ma’am,” he continues, “you really shouldn’t do that.”

“Great. Thanks for letting me know,” I reply.

He still seems bothered and adds, “You know, it’s a very bad idea.”

“Yes. You are right,” I concur. “It’s a terrible idea,” and nod. He seems confused that I agree with him and we part ways. I’m sure he had the best of intentions, but he wouldn’t let up. I’m not sure what response he was waiting for.

And then, just last month, I was shopping at Target, when a man in a motorized wheel chair approaches me while I eyed a display of wine near the produce section.

You’re gonna get drunk!” he loudly announces and roars with laughter.

I’m caught off guard and all I can reply is a defiant, “No, I’m not!” which just makes him laugh harder.

He repeats himself and circles me, still laughing.

Near the end of my shopping trip, I reach the actual wine/beer section. I am dismayed to see the same man heading my direction, but this time, I literally run away (but not before grabbing my bottle of wine).

Have you ever been approached by a stranger who offered you unsolicited food advice? If so, how did you respond? Can it ever be helpful and might it ever be warranted?


  1. Danelle Stamps

    LOL. Love this. I usually get parenting advice, which is weird because my kids are always really good at the grocery store.

  2. Jeni

    People are so strange. I’m sure you get lots of interesting comments as a parent. Everyone thinks they are an expert:)

  3. AmandaPaa

    I can totally relate to this! I can’t tell you how many people have said, “Hey, my mom has a really good squash recipe that you could use for your book!” Ummm…ya, these are original recipes and I’m not really looking for a buffed up version of tater tot hotdish with squash.

    • Jeni

      I am excited for your book, Amanda! By the way, I also have a good recipe for squash. . . 😉

  4. Katie Olthoff

    uh oh. I’ve been the unsolicited advice-giver. But in my defense, it was nice, reassuring advice. I saw a younger gal trying to decide between two types of spinach. Organic and regular. So I told her to buy the regular since it was cheaper, and go to if she was worried. (After all, A woman could consume
    3205 servings of Spinach in one day without any effect even if the Spinach have the highest pesticide residue recorded for Spinach by USDA.)

    So, that wasn’t really criticizing, but comforting, so it’s okay, right? 🙂

  5. Jeni

    In your case, I think it was totally fine. You could see someone trying to decide. At least, I know I wouldn’t mind that type of advice in that situation. Good to know about spinach, too. I try to buy organic products, but sometimes they are ridiculously expensive, especially in a smaller city.

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