Nutrition Articles

11 Nice Ways to Say 'No' to Food Pushers

Politely Turn Down Food at Parties and Gatherings

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 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

  • No, thanks.

    It's not necessary to justify your answer. If they persist, just keep repeating, "No, thanks." - 7/31/2014 9:47:16 AM
  • I just tell them the truth. I have been eating a new way. I feel good and have lost weight. I am off all sugar. The inflamation in my back has gone down because of it. (I have back problems, and this is the truth.) So, I can't eat it. Sorry. But thanks anyway. Most people want to know what I have been doing because they might want to do it themselves. Since I feel better, they are interested in what I am doing.
    I can not control how they feel, but I can control how I eat. - 7/28/2014 12:26:40 PM
  • What I say is "It looks delicious, but I'm full." - 7/26/2014 10:05:05 PM
  • ASTRA56
    I enjoyed the article. I've used some of the suggestions in the past. However, after losing 80 pounds in the last year, after I have been mostly obese during my over 50 years, (yo-yo mama), I have no qualms now about saying No thank you. Repeatedly if necessary. No BS excuses, just No, thank you. I never say I'm on a diet because I'm not. As the author said, I control what I eat. I've finally chosen to make better food choices and sure I indulge now and then. But I choose. I have control over this. Many devastating things have happened in my life which was out of my control. But this one thing I can control. I can choose to just say No, thank you. - 7/25/2014 2:31:10 PM
  • Why do you have to be nice, and tell white lies? Oh please! These are the same people that will say insulting things behind your back or even to your face about all the weight you have gained, or how much of a see-food diet you are on - everything you see, you eat! When I'm busting my rear in the gym, where are they? #takeseveralseats and go somewhere else with your food that I don't want. - 7/25/2014 1:12:52 PM
    Another harmless white lie: I say I'm allergic to an offending ingredient, as long as I'm not eating with really close friends or family who know it is not the case. It is the last they will push because no one wants a potentially life threatening allergic reaction at any gathering. - 7/25/2014 12:10:53 PM
    I like to print and give this card to pushers---Courtes
    y of Dr Phil



    - 7/25/2014 11:49:33 AM
  • I like to say "no thank you" followed with I had a late "breakfast" or "lunch" (depending on the time of day) -- and not really hungry, but will try some later... - 7/25/2014 11:29:53 AM
  • What do you say, when you work with a food pusher? The funny thing is he used to be overweight and he brings in unhealthy treats on Friday's. I mean every single Friday. I know where they are and I avoid that side of the building. But I also want to say, you have been where I am, if not bigger and you are bringing this temptation in. - 7/25/2014 8:44:58 AM
    I agree honesty is always the best. The comment that raises my hackles is "all things in moderation", as though I am a fanatic, and they justify all things they eat by that comment. Had a conversation about eating pork, I said I don't eat pork, "well all things in moderation." I just shut up before I got into it to deep, and really did become a fanatic. HaHa. - 7/25/2014 4:58:50 AM
  • I have been doing this for years, since saying no to taking home leftovers is about health reasons for my husband and I - and he has no control to leftovers. So I get to blame him by saying "I just can't have that in the refrigerator - he'll eat before I get a chance to enjoy it". If it someone I really enjoy spending time with, I just honestly say that it's not in my food plan today. Why don't you call when you are going to make this again, I will plan on it and come over so we can spend time together. The emphasis is on the time together then and not the treat. You really have to plan on it then.
    - 5/5/2014 4:41:55 AM
  • I have a nice little old 70+ woman who makes food for me -- "It's healthy" she says. She thinks because she doesn't add sugar to cookies or uses vegetables in the pancakes and uses good ingredients it is "healthy". I say no as often as possible but then, if she sees me eating a cookie or something "not healthy" she comments on it -- I thought you weren't having bread or sweets. She is little and doesn't understand. - 4/21/2014 10:06:16 PM
  • These are nice, but most are lies! The "lies are harmless if no one gets hurt" philosophy sure does sound fishy. Just say, "Thanks, it looks delicious! But I just can't, I'm sorry." It is nice and it is truthful.

    If the same person badgers more than a few times, kindly let them know they are being impolite. "Thanks for thinking of me, but I can't give into insistence--I just can't give in this time! :D" - 4/21/2014 8:09:31 PM
  • I had that problem at work someone was always pushing a recipe they wanted you to try or a birthday treat. Most of the time I took the food then I either gave it away to someone in the factory or I just through it away and no one ever knew and I made several people happy in the factory. - 4/21/2014 8:54:24 AM
  • If people already know I have diabetes, I make some jokes:
    - Sure, if you want to drive me to the hospital afterwards.
    - Youīll put me in a coma! Are you trying to kill me?
    - It doesnīt look appealing anymore once you realize thatīs whatīs been getting you sick.
    - If I eat that now, I will have to run around the building for 30 minutes to get my sugar back to normal, and Iīll miss the rest of the event!
    It really annoys me when people think they know what I should do, whether itīs food or something else. Make a dumb comment, get a dumb answer. They asked for it. Most of the time, theyīre just trying to make themselves feel better about eating unhealthy foods, and I donīt appreciate being used for that purpose. Eat what you want, but leave me out of it!
    If they really do mean well, I give them a 5-minute speech about carb counts and insulin resistance. After all, people are supposed to learn something. After that, they leave me alone. - 4/20/2014 1:46:02 PM

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