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Things You Should Never Say in Public About Your Health

What not to say to strangers when you're feeling down.

When you're sick or feeling bad, telling someone you trust about your issue can be a freeing, essential relief. Your friends and family can help you get through the tough time. Sharing makes it easier for them to care.

However, not everyone needs to know about your athlete's foot, medical trauma or anti-vax petition. Here are 20 things surrounding your health that you should share only with those who'd want to hear it.


"I'm so fat"

Woman measure her waist

Talking about your weight with people you barely know is a no-go for a variety of reasons. For one, it is a trigger topic for others, who might suffer from an eating disorder. Second, it might make others feel uncomfortable and like they have to respond, which can be totally awkward. Third, unless you are talking with a close friend, it's simply tacky to bring up your body weight. If you feel self-conscious about your weight, talk to a doctor, nutritionist or therapist about how to make it less of an issue for you.


"I just got over a cold"

woman with handkerchief has sneezing attack, blowing nose while working with colleagues on meeting, caught cold, flu symptom

If you are sick and contagious, don't go out in public. If you are fully recovered, you don't need to tell the world about it. While you might think you are just making conversation, you are probably going to freak people out if you are going on and on about how sick you just were—while shaking their hand!


"I don't eat X because it is bad for you"

women choose to eat vegetable trays and refuse to eat hamburgers

Making the choice to avoid certain foods because they are bad for your health is a personal decision, but don't try and force your reasons upon others. Everyone has different health goals, and pushing your dietary agenda on those around you isn't going to win you any friends.


"I lost weight by doing X"

female friends talking at a coffee shop

Avoid giving unsolicited weight loss advice. "Unless someone specifically asks you for information or techniques about how you shed pounds then it's easy for others to misconstrue your tips as inferring that the person you are speaking to could stand to shed a few pounds and should seek out your guidance on how to do it well," McNeil points out.


"I know how you feel due to my health condition"

woman tapping male colleague on shoulder at coffee break.

We all want to be able to relate to others, but try and avoid turning the spotlight on yourself when someone else is sharing about their issues. "Please remember that the person who has the health issue has their own version of it and no two health issues look or feel the same to the person experiencing them," says McNeil. "It doesn't generally feel helpful to hear someone talk about their version of the health issue."


"I struggled with fertility"

Businesspeople With Digital Tablet Having Meeting In Office

Fertility issues and decisions about whether or not to become a parent are your business and don't need to be validated or approved of by others. "Making these decisions public to people who don't understand your decision is likely to cause others to try to convince you that you just haven't found the right person or worse elicit unwanted and unjustified pity," points out McNeil.


"I have cancer"

Sad upset woman looking down many fingers pointing at her

It is totally up to you whether you want to disclose your cancer diagnosis with the world, but many people opt to only share it with close friends and family for a good reason. Sure, you will get loads of support from everyone you know, but you will also get people asking how you are doing many times a day. This can be overwhelming for some people, especially when they are going through a rough patch.


"I'm an alcoholic"

Upset man in bar. Friend's support

Whether to go public about your drinking is certainly a personal decision, but you may want to wait until you get to know someone before disclosing the information. Many people have misperceptions around the disease of alcoholism, and it may provoke some unwanted judgment.

RELATED: 50 Unhealthiest Habits on the Planet


"I suffer from mental illness"

frustrated worried male employee reading news, tired exhausted office worker feeling headache at work

While mental illness is another condition you shouldn't be ashamed of, it can also provoke some very biased opinions. For example, it might be something you don't want to share with your coworkers, as it could impact how you are treated.


"You don't understand what it is like"

young pensive woman in a crowd of people

When you talk about your health with someone, you have no idea whether they can relate or not. Don't ever assume that they don't understand. Even if they haven't dealt with the exact same health problem, they might be able to relate to you because of a similar experience.


"I am suicidal"

unhappy woman crying outdoors

Unless you are seriously considering taking your own life, never make comments or statements about wanting to kill yourself in public. Suicide is nothing to take lightly. Not only can it trigger others, but they will likely think you are serious and take action — whether that means contacting your family or authorities.


"Here, take some of my medication"

Two teenage girls sharing pills

Unless you are a doctor, don't prescribe medication! Don't ever offer to share your prescription medication with others, unless you want to feel responsible for any adverse reactions they have to it. You might think you are helping by offering to help, but you might not know what other things they are taking. If you give someone medication and things go awry, you could also be legally responsible for the outcome.


"I'm a vegan, and let me tell you in extreme detail why"

happy man with friends having dinner at restaurant

While choosing to abstain from animal products is your own personal choice, try to avoid disclosing why in public, as it might come off judgey to others. "Some people don't understand or appreciate your decision to avoid eating meat because it feels like they are being judged for having a different opinion," says McNeil. "Keeping this information to yourself when in public can help avoid conversations where you feel on the spot to defend yourself or respond to long drawn out narratives about how you came to your spiritual or philosophical choices."


"I have an STD"

STD test blood analysis collection tube selected by technician

Think about your audience before disclosing a health condition, especially if it sexually transmitted. "Having an awareness that some people are not educated about the risks of transmission and may not have cultural sensitivity is important to evaluate before disclosing," points out Dana McNeil, LMFT and founder of the Relationship Place. However, if you are going to have sexual relations with someone, telling them about any STDs you might be exposed to is crucial.


"We are having sexual problems"

Angry young man with woman sleeping in bed

You might think it's totally your right to discuss your sexual issues in public, but aside from how uncomfortable it might make other people feel, you might want to consider your sexual partner as well. Sexual issues such as impotence can be incredibly embarrassing, and most people probably don't want their sexual health problems discussed as cocktail party conversation.


"I am super healthy because I do X"

woman pointing at herself

Bragging about your superior health can make other people feel bad. But suggesting you are healthy because of a specific thing you eat, your exercise habits, or some miracle supplements you are taking is misleading. It's oftentimes very difficult to determine why one person gets an illness and another doesn't, which is why so many scientific studies are done every year.


"I haven't showered in days"

Woman holding nose because of bad smell

Sometimes, even the best of us don't have time to hop in the shower. However, there is no need to broadcast this to others. Nobody needs the visual of the dirt, sweat, and grime that is covering your body.


"I can eat whatever I want"

middle-aged woman are laughing holding and eating pizza

While you may think that you are immune to the same diet and nutritional guidelines as the rest of the world, announcing so can make people who struggle with their weight or maintaining a healthy diet feel horrible about themselves.


"I'm not vaccinated"

Medication nurse wearing protective gloves and white scrubs get a needle or shot ready for an injection. - Image

Vaccines are necessary to keep potentially fatal diseases from spreading. If for some reason you have not been vaccinated, whether because of health complications or religious beliefs, you don't need to tell the world—but do be honest with your school, employer, or physician. If you bring it up in random conversation, be prepared for a heated debate. And to live your happiest and healthiest life, don't miss these 70 Things You Should Never Do For Your Health.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah
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