“Taking an honest and sincere approach to food pushers may be the most effective way to handle this group of people,” says Tara Tomaino, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition director at The Park in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
But doing so with poise can be challenging. To say no to more without offending family and friends, use these conversation prompts for four of the most common types of food pushers.
THE INSECURE FOOD PUSHER
“C’mon — just have one, so I don’t feel guilty!” At holiday parties with friends or coworkers, peer pressure can make it difficult to say no to high-calorie cocktails and junk food. “Sometimes, food pushers feel bad about themselves for what they are eating, and they want others to join in,” says Tina Marinaccio, a registered dietitian in Morristown, New Jersey.
How to deal: Blame your healthcare provider
“Stay ahead of this by making sure people at the gathering already know you’re trying to eat healthier,” says Marinaccio. One response: “I’d love to have some, but I have a health concern, and my doctor or dietitian advised that I skip out on certain foods for now.” It’s tough to argue with a professional recommendation for your health.
THE PERSISTENT FOOD PUSHER
“You must have seconds! It’s your favorite! I know you want more!” Sound familiar? Sometimes, people just can’t take a hint, but being direct can ensure you’re not stuck repeating yourself all visit long.
How to deal: Tell them you’re full
Simply tell them you’re satisfied, suggests Kayla Girgen, RD. A helpful prompt: “That looks wonderful, but I am stuffed. Another bite would put me over the edge!”
THE QUESTIONING FOOD PUSHER
It’s a common response when you share that you’re trying to slim down: “Why are you trying to lose weight? You look great!” This person might just want everyone to relax and have fun or they could be jealous of your weight-loss progress.
How to deal: Change the subject
Share what you’re comfortable sharing about your health journey, kindly accept compliments, and then change the subject, suggests Tomaino. For example: “Thank you! I feel really healthy and energized since I’ve started working on my health and eating habits. Enough about me, though. Tell me about this upcoming trip of yours!”
THE HOLIDAY CHEER FOOD PUSHER
For so many of us, food is a love language — which makes it especially hard to say no to something made especially for you. “One key thing to remember with food pushers is that they are often spreading love and cheer through food,” says Sarah Schlichter, RD, a registered dietitian who teaches intuitive eating. But you can say yes to a gift from a loved one without eating it right away (or at all).
How to deal: Ask for a take-home portion
To politely decline without hurting anyone’s feelings, try a response like this: “Thank you for offering — it smells and looks delicious, but I’m full right now. Could you pack a portion for me to take home with me so I can enjoy some leftovers tomorrow?”
THE BOTTOM LINE
“When and how you eat is no one’s business but your own,” says Tomaino. “Before you attend gatherings or parties, practice a few responses to help you exude confidence and poise in the face of food pushers.”
To stay on track with your health goals and avoid holiday weight gain, go in with a strategy like filling half of your dinner plate with veggies or bringing your own healthy dessert. However, if you veer off course a little, remember that’s OK, too. “Be mindful, but don’t forget to give yourself some grace during the holiday season,” says Girgen. “No one eats perfectly.”
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