DEAR MISS MANNERS: I lost about 75 pounds over the course of a year due to a chronic illness. It was partially the illness, but mostly the medications I was taking, which made me nauseous and I never had an appetite. My doctors and I feel that the illness is mostly under control now.
My closest friends and family are aware of my diagnosis, but it is not something I’m comfortable sharing with those outside my inner circle. However, when I see someone who has not seen me in several months, they are often over-the-top complimentary of how great I look.
For the most part, I can say “thank you” and change the subject, but many times, people will not give up. They want to know my diet and exercise secrets, and it gets very uncomfortable because obviously I do not have any.
I don’t want to lie to them, but I’m also not comfortable sharing my medical history in casual conversation. How can I politely decline to answer these questions without telling people to back off?
GENTLE READER: “I didn’t put any special effort into it. I was actually able to eat as much as I wanted.”
Although this is quite true, as you did not want to eat, Miss Manners is aware that it will annoy your questioners. They are hoping to hear a magic formula that they can use to lose weight without the tiresome necessity of eating less and exercising.
But so be it. They will be momentarily stunned, during which time you can open another topic.