Sometimes you have to know who your real friends are.

Several weeks ago, I was pulled into a conversation by an acquaintance as I walked down the aisles of a popular big-box grocery store. The conversation was going great guns — until suddenly, and without provocation, the acquaintance took note of the groceries in my shopping cart.

“That doesn’t look like diet food,” she said, with a note of sarcasm in her voice. “Jeez, Ed, you were doing so well. Everybody was so proud of what you were doing.”

She was snidely referring to my much-publicized decision to eat healthier in hopes that I would lose weight. Please note that the word “diet” was not part of my effort.

Wait a minute, I thought. I have not gained a lot of weight back. So what if I had some baby-back ribs, smoked sausage and barbecue-related items in my cart? Shoot, it wasn’t like I planned to personally eat everything in there.

I didn’t think her choice of words was encouraging at all, and they could have been construed as a sly attempt to drive me back to some of my former dietary practices.

I extricated myself from the conversation and went about getting the rest of the stuff — sauce, meat products and potatoes — I needed for the barbecue. Take that, Miss Judgmental!

A couple of weeks later, I walked into another store and a longtime friend, Gilbert Veal, stopped me. He and I played football together in high school. He is a really good guy, so I thought we would have a lot to discuss. Well, the first thing he said was, “Hey man, I really liked those columns you would write about how you are trying to lose weight.”

Well, I could see where this was heading, and it was not in a good place — because he made the comment with a sheepish grin on his face. I waited for the other shoe to drop, and it didn’t take long.

“Pratt, it looks like you have put some of that weight back on,” he announced with a smile. Well, really, he was laughing. At least one of us was amused.

Now, here’s the truth. About two years ago, I got on my healthier eating effort, not a diet. It was all chronicled in this newspaper. Through healthier (dieting) eating, my weight dropped from more than 250 pounds to 232 pounds — and finally to 229 pounds. As of Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, I weighed 240 pounds.

Admittedly, that is going in wrong the direction, and that I must do something to stop that trend. I know it will be difficult with football season and a lot of tailgating that I plan to enjoy.

I will not eat salads, soup or low-cal stuff at my tailgating events. While tailgating, I like to abide by the late American chef, author and television personality Julia Child’s quote: “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”

I will try to make up for the barbecue, baked beans, potato salads, fried whatever, gravies and adult beverages at tailgate gatherings with some walking and running during the week leading up to the next game.

I also think some of my so-called friends have faulty recollections of what I looked like when I was 232 pounds. Earlier this week, I got out a photo from that period. I think the seven or eight new pounds are wrapped around my midsection like a fanny pack. I still wear the same size pants, but, admittedly, I wear them a smidgen lower.

A doctor’s visit Thursday did nudge me a bit when Dr. Kevin Babin asked, “So, what are you doing for exercise?” I didn’t have a great answer. (I think he was in on the abuse.)

But it was his question that meant the most. I plan to eat healthier, although not at tailgating. I will provide an update at the end of the regular season, when I predict my weight will be less than 230 pounds.

Then I will see what my so-called friends have to say.

Edward Pratt’s email is epratt1972@yahoo.com.