Here is typical scenario: Your at Thanksgiving dinner, Aunt Joan made pie this year (she never bakes you know) and she wants you to try a piece. She asks you 10 different ways and just won’t quit until you to try it.
Here’s another: Your co-worker bought bagels to the office from the world’s greatest bagel bakery and insists that you have one – who cares about the calories!
Or another: You’re at your friends birthday party, she made a special “diet friendly” dessert just for you (but it’s not diet friendly at all). She tells you how she didn’t want you to be left out and only made it because she knew you were coming. You feel so flattered that she went out of her way to make it, you struggle to figure out how to decline.
There are many more scenarios I could give as food pushers come in all shapes and sizes. I’m sure you are remembering a time right now when you encountered a food pusher. With Thanksgiving being this week and the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share with you ways to deal with this as there always seem to be a lot of “food pushers” during the holidays with family and friends.
“Food pushers” are people who usually mean well. I suppose that with some there could be an element of sabotage involved, but usually that isn’t the case. Most of the time they feel bad that you aren’t participating or partaking with them and everyone else and wish they had your willpower. Food pushers aren’t trying to be bad people, they just think that they know more than you do about how much you should eat. So, whatever the case is, remember that most people “pushing” food on you don’t even realize they are doing it!
In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, here are a few tips on how to deal with the person who likes to make your food their business – aka: food pushers.
First of all, let me say that there is NOTHING wrong with indulging. If you choose to eat something, it should be because YOU want to eat it and enjoy it, not because someone else PUSHED it onto you.
- Someone says “It’s my speciality, you HAVE to try it!”
Response: “I will in a little bit”Stalling works so well because it momentarily takes the pressure off the situation. Most food pushers are going to follow up to see if you really tried the dish. If they ask later how you liked it, tell them you didn’t end up having room on your plate but you will certainly try some next time
- Someone says “You MUST try [insert high calorie dish here], it was always your favorite when you were little”
Response: “I’m really not feeling well today and I don’t think I could stomach it” OR “I really can’t stand [insert main ingredient here] anymore now that I am older” A white lie here does not hurt. While you are probably feeling fine, the way you would feel after eating that dish would not be good. And maybe you truly love that ingredient you said you didn’t like anymore, but you know that if you had a bite you couldn’t stop. Food pushers can’t argue with how you are feeling that day or how your personal food preferences have changed. No ones feelings are hurt and you can escape the temptation of that high calorie dish.
- Someone says, “are you sure you don’t want to try? I only make this once a year!”
Response: I have already filled my plate, but I would love to take some home to have another day. Take it to go!!! Once you leave the party/get together, you can do what you want with the leftovers! Throw it out, give it to your neighbor, or hand to a homeless person on the street. You do not have to consume! If having it in your house makes the temptation too great, THROW IT OUT! This takes the pressure off at the party and the person has no idea what you do with it once you leave.
- Scenario: your meal is already plated for you or someone gives you a second helping when you didn’t want one
Response: move it around with your fork to make it took like you ate it. This is like the old “feed to the dog under the table” trick. I mean, you could really feed it to the dog under the table if that is possible 😀 but otherwise, move it around, make it look like you ate it, and move on. No need to consume or put it in your mouth. If you feel that you are still hungry or want a 2nd serving of something, opt for the veggies or salad.
- Someone says “But it’s your favorite!!!”
Response: “I’ve overdone it in the past, I can’t eat it anymore!”This one of something being your favorite can be the hardest to escape, because everyone knows you love it and sometimes people have made it especially for you. Most people know what it is like to eat so much of something that you just can’t stomach it anymore, so they are likely not to question. If the pressure is super high or people keep insisting, revert back to #3 and offer to take some home with you. Then dispose of after leaving.
- Someone says “Looks like someone is obsessed with dieting”
Response: say, “I’m just conscious of what I eat because I have been concerned about my health and I have adopted a new lifestyle and way of eating and since doing that I feel a lot better”
OR “I’m not obsessed, these are just the foods I like eating!”
However you respond is your choice, just be sure to laugh it off and don’t validate the comment. Responding in anger to this will only escalate the situation. Remember how good you will feel tomorrow after making these decisions and know that acknowledging your willpower and healthy decisions will inspire others.
- Someone says “It’s only once a year, live a little!”
Response: “these are the foods that I love and enjoy, so I am livin’ a little and enjoying this party as much as everyone else!”Sometimes we need to kindly remind people that all pleasure is not found in food and that you can still have fun and experience pleasure eating healthy items or only choosing to indulge in a few items at dinner instead of everything. This is another one that is important to laugh off and not take too personally.
Other things that help with food pushers are:
- Don’t make a huge stink over your special eating requirements by pointing out what you can and can’t have. Just serve yourself and eat what you wish, without making a big deal that you aren’t eating any stuffing this year.
If you have an allergy or sensitivity and are unsure if the dish is free of that ingredient, of course you can subtly ask the host or the person who made the dish if it contains whatever you are sensitive to.
- Make a pact with a sibling or other family member to support each other. This can help you stick to your guns in the face of food pushers. There are power in numbers and you can both back each other up with support.
- The first year is the hardest. Your family and friends will eventually become familiar with you new lifestyle and habits. The first year is challenging because people are afraid of change and they are often afraid that you will change as a person if your habits/likes change. They will soon see that is not true, but be patient the first year and eventually they will all catch on.
- Remember that saying “no” is okay! You really don’t owe anyone an explanation, you are free make your own decisions. If someone gets slightly offended, that is their problem, not yours & they will probably forget by the time the night is over. Know that you are silently inspiring other people to make better decisions with your example. If you think it will help, practice saying no in the mirror. For people that are serial people pleasers, practicing saying no is a valuable exercise. It sounds cheesy but if it will help with your resolve, it is worth it in the long run.
Finally, remember that there are other ways to show and express love and care other than with food. Expressing emotion with food has become a common practice, so people forget that is not what it is for. Remind people of that you are so thankful you are able to be spending this special occasion with them. Their physical presence is what matters most to you.
I hope these have been helpful to you to stay strong in the face of “the pushers”. Remember to make your decisions based on what you would like to eat, not on what others want you to eat.