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Nutrition Articles  ›  Pitfalls and Plateaus

11 Nice Ways to Say 'No' to Food Pushers

Politely Turn Down Food at Parties and Gatherings

-- By Erin Whitehead, SparkPeople Contributor
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During the holiday season, food temptations are everywhere. From stuffing and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving to eggnog and sugar cookies in December, the seasonal temptations are endless. It can be tough enough to navigate the turkey 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. Even long after the holidays are over, there's always some kind of event: 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. Continued ›
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About The Author

Erin Whitehead Erin Whitehead
is a health and fitness enthusiast who co-founded the popular website 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

Member Comments

  • I like the stall tactic. I have been a food pusher myself but I don't get hurt when people don't want to eat. Most of the time when I make something it gets eaten up and if not I know that I either made to much or it was a new recipe that did not quite work out. - 4/12/2014 3:02:54 PM
  • Ha! I used "Not right now, I think I'll have some as a snack later!" about an hour ago. DF thought I needed a cheddarwurst alongside my sloppy elk joe. - 3/13/2014 11:06:56 PM
  • great ideas. I've used a few myself but you gave me a few new ones. Thanks! - 2/22/2014 9:26:37 PM
  • Great article. I have plenty of "food pushers" in my life. This will definetly make it easier to deal with them. Thanks, Sparkle! - 2/22/2014 8:39:11 AM
    No Thanks, I'm happy with my pallate" - 2/22/2014 8:04:33 AM
  • I'm allergic :) - 12/12/2013 7:52:48 AM
  • As a vegan, I get this a lot. A LOT. All year round. "But eggs are good for you!" "If you don't eat meat, you get no protein!" and my personal favourite "You'll have osteoporosis in like 10 years" (and I am 24 years old!).
    Even if they want to shove their perspective towards food and their beliefs in my face, I find it pointless, disrespectful and exhausting to do the same.
    My physician gave me the best advice on the matter: "Thanks, I'm allergic" are the magic words! All animal products are very common allergens, so I'm always excused and it doesn't even have to be a big deal! - 12/11/2013 7:31:45 PM
  • I find it's easier to say thank you, take some and throw it away. Then tell them how wonderful it was. - 11/24/2013 9:14:16 PM
  • I tell them, "I have an allergy. I break out in thighs."
    Gets a laugh, shuts them up! - 9/2/2013 10:59:33 AM
  • "No, thank you" or "I'm good," take care of it for me. If they insist, I say firmly, "No really, I'm good." The only time it wouldn't work was with my grandma, but she was always far too good a cook for me to turn down anything she cooked. ;) - 9/1/2013 9:47:23 PM
  • "No, thank you" works fine for me. Short and sweet. - 9/1/2013 7:45:31 PM
  • I tend to be very weak when a food pusher is talking about desserts. However, I find the easiest way for me to get out of it is to either share the dessert, have a taste and then toss the rest when the pusher isn't looking, or claim that I'm not ready for dessert yet. - 9/1/2013 4:14:38 PM
  • I have a pretty easy out - I have a health condition. Usually dropping that line let's people know that the whole "diet" isn't really a diet, but a lifestyle that I need to stick to. - 9/1/2013 3:51:26 PM
  • You gotta love food pushers! They are every where, but I have learned that most things in life, are mind over matter! Plus, when I look in the mirror, I see a healthy me, so then it becomes much easier to push the negativeness away! - 9/1/2013 2:57:05 PM
  • While I do like the suggested responses, I feel like some of them do the opposite of building good relationships with people and food. How can people learn to respect each other's words, if we pretend to appease them? I try very hard to be honest in my responses to my people about food....though of course, I'm not perfect in it. But planning to lie just doesn't work....I'll plan to warn them ahead of time first if I must.

    For me, it's a CONSTANT battle and I'm a sweets nut, so I have to speak up. People that love me will bring me treats if I don't stop them sooner rather than later so if there is food involved and my friend always makes me her famous brownies, I tell her before that this week I can't do brownies. That way she doesn't go to the expense and trouble of cooking something just for me that I'm now squirming to get out of. But that definitely assumes relationship....w
    e already care about each other so I've already shared my struggle.

    For situations where they know but don't care, then I don't mind leaving the food. I didn't ask for it and need them to know NOT to waste that assumption on me, as I'm not gonna give in.

    And I do have the "benefit" of a medical diagnosis. I've always struggled with wt. and health, but now I can just say doctor says....if I can control this thing with diet, no med's are needed. People don't push me after that and if they do....well, do I really care if I hurt their feelings? They don't care if I have to go on insulin! - 9/1/2013 1:09:43 PM