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by Abigail Van Buren

Guilt Trip Over Declined Treats Unappreciated

DEAR ABBY: I'm overweight and have a family history of heart disease and diabetes. An injury to my back severely limits my ability to exercise, so diet is an important part of my health plan.

My problem is people constantly try to get me to eat. I explain my situation, but they still urge me to have "just a taste." If I go to a party and shy away from the buffet, the host feels I'm being rude. Recently, my supervisor at work became insulted because I refused some food she brought to a work meeting.

These people wouldn't be upset if an alcoholic refused a drink, so why are they so hostile to me? (Another thing that upsets me is when somebody dies an early death, these same folks say, "He should have taken better care of himself.") -- UNDER ATTACK IN ARIZONA

DEAR UNDER ATTACK: For many people, food has become something other than fuel for the body. It can symbolize love, caring, acceptance -- and when it is refused it can seem like a personal rejection to the person offering it. (Yes, I know it's crazy.)

Your best defense is to remind your hosts, your supervisor, your co-workers and friends that you have a family history of health problems and are on a doctor-advised restricted diet to manage it. Remind these generous souls that socializing is more about the company than the food, and you are grateful that they understand.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors | Health & Safety | Work & School