Dear June: A Delicate Situation Involving Food and Hygiene

Advice for finding an honest and diplomatic solution
November 9, 2020 Updated: November 9, 2020

Dear June,

I’ve searched the web and cannot find anything addressing my particular predicament. I’ve a friend at work who prepares meals for me oftentimes and I’ve always graciously accepted and enjoyed them. One day, however, I was aghast to observe them picking and eating a booger. In horror, I watched as they repeated this morbid mucophagy. Now I am unable to eat anything they bring and I feel bad just throwing it away every time. I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Please advise!


Dear J.P.,

Indeed it is a pity to throw away good homemade food, but it is certainly a delicate situation to decline!

I would advise communicating with your colleague in the most truthful yet tactful way possible. This means finding a legitimate reason to refuse but that does not involve mentioning the reason you explained above.

For example, you could say that the meals of late have not been sitting well with you.

Or you could simply say that you no longer feel right accepting food from him or her, perhaps because you’ve not been reciprocating.

Or if you have considered starting a diet—maybe an intermittent fasting schedule that eliminates some meals—this might be a good opportunity to start and it would give you a reason to refuse.

Or perhaps you could say that you very much appreciate their generosity, but for self-development reasons, you feel you should start making your own food—a slow cooker, Instant Pot, or air fryer might help make this more possible.

Also, a slow cooker or Instant Pot might themselves be a way out, depending on the situation. If they offer you meals on an irregular schedule, can you refuse on the pretext that you already have something at home in your cooker? This casual refusal might work best if the food was also made for others, not just you. At the same time, it might not stop the offers from coming, which could be awkward over time.

There might also be a relationship angle. Perhaps you have a girlfriend or are interested in someone and you can tell the lady—if it is a lady—who makes food for you that it would be better for your relationship if you no longer accept meals from her.

If none of these examples are true for you, I hope they have given you some inspiration to find an honest and diplomatic solution.



Do you have a family or relationship question for our advice columnist, Dear June? Send it to or Attn: Dear June, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.

June Kellum is a married mother of two and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.