Nutrition Articles

11 Nice Ways to Say 'No' to Food Pushers

Politely Turn Down Food at Parties and Gatherings

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. 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

  • Woe to anyone who tried any of these tactics on me! LOL! I have no problem saying, "NO" and I don't explain anything, either. - 10/29/2014 5:32:18 PM
  • 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

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