Nutrition Articles

11 Nice Ways to Say 'No' to Food Pushers

Politely Turn Down Food at Parties and Gatherings

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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. Continued ›
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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.

Member Comments

  • I recently had this happen that someone brought me a piece of dessert they wanted me to try. In turn, I shared with other people, so I was honestly able to say I had tried it and what I thought of it and the person was non the wiser that I had shared it and saved myself a lot of calories. - 3/20/2016 8:03:17 PM
  • If someone doesn't just accept my "no thank you" and continues to persist, I go to plan B. I just offer them some of what I've been eating without labeling it as a healthy choice.
    Here try some of this ____
    True food pushers don't want anything pushed on them, especially anything they view as healthy.

    - 3/20/2016 1:36:44 PM
  • TRENAMARIE
    I usually tell them I'm I'm allergic, they say really. I say yes, it makes me fat!! And that is no lie - 3/20/2016 7:21:55 AM
  • I read this article and I have to be honest there aren't many things in here I would use. One of the biggest things that come to mind when someone offers me something and I don't want any is No thanks!. If I haven't tried a food I'll generally say "I know it looked delicious but I'm full. I try to make healthy choices with the first go around and if something really looks appealing I will get just one single bite if I know its going to be a lot of calories. But, I would never put myself in the situation to lie.For other things if people really want to think I'm obsessive that's their own business I know the truth that logging and tracking my food keeps me accountable. Maybe there will be one day where it isn't as necessary but, for now it is! If someone says that to me I would say "No, I'm trying to make better food choices and I already enjoyed my meal this time. I'm also not going to say no to leftovers, I can either eat them sparingly, mix them in with other foods so that I add nutrition to the dish, or just share them with my family. I hope that sparkpeople decides to add some other helpful information to this article in the future. - 3/19/2016 9:59:43 PM
  • I was just shocked when I read this article and I was surprised that the editor let this article go to press. I won't use lies to keep a food pusher away. I won't say I've already tried a food and it was delicious if I haven't. I won't say that I'm driving unless I am. I won't say that I don't like a food or can't eat a food, unless that is the truth, and I won't say I've overloaded on a food if the truth is that I would absolutely love to eat it but know that I shouldn't. I would focus on the health issue. You can use that for every single food pusher scenario AND it's the truth. "I don't want to eat that right now because I am trying to improve my health so that I will live longer to spend time with my friends and family." If they say, "But it's only this once." You can say, "If everyone tells me that every time I turn down a food, then it wouldn't be only once." Better yet, you probably already know in advance that you are going to go to wherever it is that these food pushers exist, so why not make room in your diet plan for 1 to 2 bites of something you might otherwise turn down. My son made bread pudding and I had 2 bites, entered it into my log and made sure that the rest of my day was balanced. It worked perfectly. As far as the alcoholic beverage offer is concerned, I can honestly say, "It's not worth the calories." I get as much pleasure out of a refreshing glass of iced tea as I get out of a cocktail or glass of wine and I've saved those calories for something else!

    Just don't tell people to lie. It's wrong and it should NEVER be suggested. If you think that "a white lie" never hurt anybody, then you haven't taken into consideration the ramifications that can occur if you are caught. Also, once you start telling lies that are "OK", lying can become a habit; then before you realize it, you're telling them more and more often. Soon, you will be caught and you won't be deemed trustworthy anymore. No, lying is definitely not worth it. I refuse to do it. - 3/19/2016 7:35:05 PM
  • BOOKNUT52
    I agree with alilduckling, I wouldn't encourage someone to lie. A couple of helps in situations like these: One is to put the food on a plate and walk around with it. Then you just eat what you have decided to eat and leave the rest. Hopefully no one would pay so much attention to you when they see the stuff on your plate. The second suggestion is to let your hostess know ahead of time that although you will be enjoying her food/party a lot, you won't be eating everything, and why. Most people do understand, and she might even become your ally when you need one. And...You can always run into the kitchen and wash some dishes or something! About leftovers, just smile and take it, and then give it to a friend, maybe even someone leaving the gathering who would appreciate it more than you do. The "saboteurs" probably mean well, they don't understand how difficult the process is... - 3/19/2016 3:08:05 PM
  • Thank you. I needed this today! - 3/19/2016 11:26:38 AM
  • The article doesn't mention it, but when you take those leftovers home and have more control over them, the garbage can is also an option! Sad, but waste or to waist!!! - 3/19/2016 10:09:33 AM
  • A true food pusher won't stop. We have one at work and a neighbor of mine is one as well. They just keep at it until you either get short with them or you give in. Be strong and be firm. - 3/19/2016 10:03:13 AM
  • I agree with the majority of comments here - a clear 'no thank you!' with a smile, is fine - or even 'not at the moment, thanks'/'not right now, thanks'.

    For me, the comments about 'you don't need to lose weight' etc are the most button-pushing ones !!! I'm likely to say nothing and just smile! - 3/19/2016 5:53:17 AM
  • Good suggestions, but I rather like taking home leftovers! There's so much you can do, so many different meals you can make the next day or the next that don't have to be unhealthy. That's just me, though - 11/12/2015 11:35:49 AM
  • 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.
    - 11/8/2015 3:48:36 PM
  • ALLIEH3
    Somehow I think that the "I've already tried some, it was delicious" is going to get you a foil-covered plate of leftovers to take home with you and then repeats every holiday. Stick with the other options. - 11/8/2015 5:38:30 AM
  • Interesting suggestions. However, the food pushers I've run into have not accepted my first or second, "No, thank you," or " No, thanks; I don't care for that." Saying I'll try something later didn't faze one woman, either. She kept pushing me to try her specialty NOW, no matter what. I wanted to take the bowl and dump it on her. When I walked towards another section of the table, she freaking followed me. I didn't want to leave the event venue to escape, for heaven's sake! The article may refer to kind, reasonable folks offering food, but true PUSHERS seem to have an agenda, and it can be horrible trying to withstand them! I will NOT eat what I do not want any more, but I have problems being assertive, and I end up miserable, trying to politely refuse, to escape, something.

    On the other hand, yes, I have had respectful acceptance from folks I've met in recent years. It was incredibly refreshing. But they were politely offering -- they did not qualify as true food pushers. I wonder if these suggestions work mostly with reasonable, respectful people. I like the idea of pushing the food around on my plate, but I think it's a shame it has to come to that. - 11/7/2015 3:09:52 PM
  • JLAUGHLINAR
    A simple "No, thank you" is sufficient. - 11/7/2015 11:58:48 AM

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