Nutrition Articles

11 Nice Ways to Say 'No' to Food Pushers

Politely Turn Down Food at Parties and Gatherings

4KSHARES
During family gatherings, food temptations are everywhere. From stuffing and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving to eggnog and sugar cookies in December, to barbecues in the summer, the seasonal temptations are endless. It can be tough enough to navigate the buffet without having your great aunt force an extra helping of potatoes on your plate or resisting Grandma Dolly's pleas that you take a second piece of her famous apple pie. There's always some kind of event going on: birthday parties, family get-togethers, company meetings, bridal and baby showers--and all of these events have one thing in common (besides all the tempting food): food pushers.
 
Food pushers range from well-intentioned loved ones to total diet saboteurs. Regardless of their motivation, it's important to stick to your guns. You can always be honest and say that you're simply trying to eat healthier, but if that response gets ignored (or doesn't come easily), the following retorts to their food-forcing ways will keep you in control of what goes on your plate and in your mouth!
 
The Push: "It's my specialty, you have to try it!"

Your Response: "I will in a bit!"

Why It Works: Stalling is a great tactic with food pushers. Odds are the offender won't follow you around making sure you actually try the dish. If they catch up with you by the end of the party to ask what you thought, tell them that it slipped your mind but you'll be sure to try it next time.
 
The Push: "This [insert name of high-calorie dish] is my favorite. You'll love it!"

Your Response: "I had some already—so delicious!"

Why It Works: A white lie in this situation isn't going to hurt anybody. You'll get out of eating food you don't want or need, and the food pusher will have gotten a compliment on what probably is a delicious dish.
 
The Push: "It's just once a year!"

Your Response: "But I'll probably live to celebrate more holidays if I stick with my diet plan!"

Why It Works: People can sometimes see healthy eating as vain—a means to the end result of losing weight and looking better. It's harder for a food pusher to argue with you if you bring attention to the fact that you eat right and exercise for better health and a longer life. Looking good just happens to be a side effect!
 
The Push: "Looks like someone is obsessed with dieting…"

Your Response: "I wouldn't say obsessed, but I am conscious of what I eat."

Why It Works: Words like "food snob" or "obsessed" are pretty harsh when they're thrown around by food pushers. But don't let passive-aggressive comments like this bring you down—or make you veer away from your good eating intentions. Acknowledging your willpower and healthy food choices might influence others to be more conscious of what they eat. Sometimes you just have to combat food pushers with a little straightforward kindness.
 
The Push: "If you don't try my dish, I'm just going to have to force you to eat it!"

Your Response: "Sorry, but I don't like (or can't eat) [insert ingredient here]."

Why It Works: It's hard to argue with someone's personal food preferences. If someone doesn't like an ingredient whether its sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or butter, odds are that he or she hasn't liked it for a very long time. If you'd like to get creative with this one, go into detail about how you got sick on the ingredient as a kid or how your mom says you always threw it across the room as a baby. Who can argue with that?
 
The Push: "You need some meat on your bones."

Your Response: "Trust me, I'm in no danger of wasting away!"

Why It Works: This food push is definitely on the passive-aggressive side. Using humor to fight back will defuse any tension while making it clear where you stand.
 
The Push: "One bite isn't going to kill you."

Your Response: "I know, but once you pop you can't stop! And I'm sure it's so delicious I wouldn't be able to stop!"

Why It Works: This is another situation where humor will serve to distract the food pusher from his or her mission. It's a way to say "thanks, but no thanks" while making it clear that you're not interested in overindulging.
 
The Push: "But it's your favorite!"

Your Response: "I think I've overdosed on it; I just can't eat it anymore!"

Why It Works: If you have a favorite holiday dish that everyone knows you love, it can be especially tough to escape this push. If a loved one made the dish specifically for you, the guilt can be enough to push you over the edge. But people understand that food preferences change, and most have been in that situation of enjoying a dish so much that they can't touch it for awhile.
 
The Push: [Someone puts an extra helping on your plate without you asking.]

Your Response: Push it around with your fork like you did as a kid to make it look like you tried it.

Why It Works: While putting food on someone else's plate can be viewed as passive-aggressive, it was probably done with love. (Let's hope!) Making it look like you ate a bite or two can be an easy way out of the situation, but you can also just leave it alone and claim that you've already had your fill. (After all, you didn't add that extra helping!)
 
The Push: "Have another drink!"

Your Response: "I have to drive."

Why It Works: No one will argue with the fact that you want to drive home sober. If they do, you should have no qualms walking away from the conversation, period. If they offer a place for you to stay, you can always get out of the situation by blaming an early morning commitment or the fact that you need to get home to let the dog out. Kids will also get you out of everything.
 
The Push: "We have so many leftovers. Take some!"

Your Response: "That's OK! Just think, you'll have your meals for tomorrow taken care of."

Why It Works: Not every party guest wants to deal with the hassle of taking food with them, and this makes it clear that you'd rather the food stay. If the host is insistent, you can feign worry that they'll go bad in the car because you're not going straight home, or it'll go bad in your fridge because you've already been given so many leftovers at other parties recently. Or be polite and take them. You'll have more control of your food intake away from the party anyway. So whether you don't eat the leftovers at all or whether you split a piece of pie with your spouse, you're in control in this situation.
 

These tactics can work wonders in social situations, but honesty is sometimes the best policy. A simple "No, thank you" is hard for a food pusher to beat, especially if it's repeated emphatically. Remember, too, that it's okay to have treats in moderation, so don't deprive yourself of your favorite holiday foods. Just make sure that you're the one in control of your splurges—not a friend, family member or co-worker who doesn't know your fitness and health goals!
 
 
Do you have a favorite way to say, "No, thank you," to food pushers? Share your strategies in the comments section to the right.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Page 1 of 1  
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
4KSHARES

Member Comments

  • Honesty is the best policy. I just say, to maintain my health, I am choosing to pass.
  • I'm just honest with people about what I do or don't want. I think honesty is the best policy. Like they say, if you're honest, you won't forget what you said! One thing you didn't mention is how withering it can be to come to the event with the calorie count of different things they might have, and say what it is and that it's too high.
  • "I'm stuffed already, but maybe I can manage a taste!" (Even though you are not full already)
  • When it is your beloved 96 yr old mother doing the push, it gets tricky. I face this often. Usually I just let her say what she wants, then I eat what I want to.
  • Easiest answer I've ever found: "I'm feeling a little nauseous right now, but maybe later."
    People don't argue with nausea, and usually go out of their way to avoid putting food near your face after that. If they are concerned, you can simply say you're ok but have been feeling a little under the weather today, or that you think something you ate earlier didn't agree with you. It's a good non-specific symptom that could have any number of causes, and can go away or come back at any time - and if they try again later, you just say, "Yes, I'm doing a little better, but I don't want to risk it today."
    Invoke as soon as you've eaten all the healthy food you plan to eat, so you won't be tempted to have any more.
    It doesn't offend anyone, so they won't feel badly about putting so much effort into cooking food you never tried, and it's an easy excuse if you don't want to bring home leftovers either. It will usually take many repeat performances before people catch on that you are nauseous a lot lately, and usually by then it's easy to say "Now that I've been losing weight, rich foods don't taste as good to me anymore. It's a waste of calories, because I actually prefer fruit/vegetables/
    healthy food now." People usually only resist when they haven't gotten used to a new way to relate to you, by the time the nausea excuse has worn thin, they are probably used to you not eating their food and gotten over it. And sometimes, they will even go out of their way to try to make something healthier you can enjoy for next time, or you may have inspired them to lose weight and exercise, too, because they see how great you're looking!
  • Am I the only one who replies to rude comments about what I eat with rude comments right back? If someone tells me I have to eat something, I say no thank you I don't eat that. If someone makes a comment about not eating anything, I explain that I work hard to make food that is healthy and delicious. And if someone put something on my plate, I would purposefully not touch the food to make a point. If you aren't supporting my journey, I'm not going out of my way to make you feel good about not supporting my journey. Sorry, not sorry.
  • I had a long talk with my husband before leaving for one of those high-pressure family gatherings. We thought back to how long ago in the old country feasts were indeed "once a year" events because food was not so easily available. Of course, no better way to show love in those days than to go all out with feasts. Now it seems that is all we do; every month there is a holiday or event and the food is all too easy to obtain than the old days when you had to harvest the wheat, knead the dough, etc. It continues to be a very, very hard challenge for me not to overeat out of my house even if I understand this. Not giving up
  • I don't believe white lies are a good idea. It will just set you up for more of that same behavior in the future. You will be left with a feeling of guilt for your lie. This could actually set you up to eat more. You must be true to yourself. Much better to simply say no and explain that you are very careful about what you eat and that you are working very hard to be healthy and would feel guilty if you did not keep the promise you made to yourself. Follow it up with what you enjoyed and that you are now full or finished and then change the topic.
  • very motivational
  • I envy everyone here who can say "no thanks" and be heard/respected about it. Not everyone has people in their lives that will take 'no' as 'no'. Especially for Spark readers who are younger (like me) and the food pushers are the older generations who are incredibly patronizing about knowing better.

    It's a lot more complex than "lies are bad, and if you tell a lie about not being hungry you're a bad person". Not everyone has the same family situation as you.

    That being said, these days I escape about 90% of all food situations by being vegan... it's super awesome. I get to hear everyone's stupid/uninformed comments about not eating animal products, but I have better control over what they push at me.
  • The sheer number of comments speaks volumes about the subject matter...and the fact this article has been recycled on many occasions. Given the nature of the comments and the displeasure with the content, I find it interesting that Spark continues to include it in spark mail.

    When I skimmed the article, I sorta missed the intent...telling white lies to discourage food pushers. Let's be honest, food pushers are adult bullies. Applying pressure to achieve compliance is bullying! To stop this, lying will not help. Empowering people to say no is what will ultimately make a difference.

    In a twisted way, I think spark felt it was providing a bag of tricks you could pull out and use when a food pusher is making you feel uncomfortable. However, inventing/fabrica
    ting/lying just heaps another dose of bad behavior into a tricky situation. Saying no is not mean or wrong, lying is! Food pushers don't mean well, time to stop this cycle of using food as an object that can be pushed on others!
  • I think we spend too much time worrying about the other person's feelings. I will say no politely once. If the other person does not get it that I do not want, can not eat, SHOULD not eat any more, that is their problem.

    My health, and YOUR health, is more important than their feelings.

    If "Thank you, but I said no" is too much for people, that is their problem. I should not have to compromise my standards and lie to a person or make up a story because they can't understand that no means no.
  • What if you have a one person that wants you to eat. What do you do then? I visit this lady across from me. How do you say no.
  • I agree - Telling a lie is not the best approach - EVER. I adopted the - I'm sure it is delicious - and I hope that you truly enjoy it, but it is not a part of my lifestyle plan/choices right now. I even get the - OH you are on one of those (insert diet name here) - and I say no, I've adopted a lifestyle plan that makes me feel better, now - thank you for understanding.
  • @SESSIE691 " My favorite come-back when someone tries to push food on me is: "I'm sorry but I'm allergic!" If they ask what happens when I do eat that item I say: "I break our in fat!" Then I walk away quickly as they react to the last sentence."

    Same comment to you as to TRENAMARIE. People like you get children killed. Don't ever ever EVER lie about a food allergy.

About The Author

Erin Whitehead Erin Whitehead
is a health and fitness enthusiast who co-founded the popular website FitBottomedGirls.com and co-wrote The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (available May 2014). Now busier than ever with two kids, she writes about healthy pregnancy and parenting at FitBottomedMamas.com.

x Lose 10 Pounds by June 5! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.