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 ›
‹ Previous Page   Page 2 of 3   Next Page ›

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

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

  • 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
  • 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.
    - 11/8/2015 3:48:36 PM
    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
    A simple "No, thank you" is sufficient. - 11/7/2015 11:58:48 AM
  • I get a lot of food shoved at me by my clients, many of whom are elderly and very well meaning. If they won't take a 'no thank you' or a 'I'd love to have it but I had breakfast/lunch/b
    runch late so I'm really stuffed' answer, I tell them that I'll take it for later and then give it to my husband or next door's kids. I don't want to alienate my clients. Sometimes I get boxes of biscuits etc from them and my Husband takes them to dialysis with them and the nurses share them out between themselves. Saves a lot of awkwardness.

    When it comes to 'family pushers', I just say 'no thankyou' and stick to my guns. I had one cousin try to stuff vile vile vile Black Forest Gateaux into my mouth with her hand, while grabbing my by the pony tail with the other(disgusting) and I spat it all out. Every speck of it. My hatred of BFG is well known in the family, I've never liked it. I actually went home after that. Anyway, my dress was covered in vile chocolate and cherry cream.

    I don't white lie to get out of a situation. With my customers I might sidestep the issue a bit but as some of them actually save a little money back to 'give me a treat' I try to be really gratious about it. It's a bit of a tightrope act sometimes.

    I get the same thing with virtually everyone I know trying to pour alcohol down my neck too. I don't drink, I don't like it so I don't drink it. I've never found an alcoholic drink that I like the taste of so gave it up a long time ago. - 8/17/2015 7:00:40 AM
  • Lying, even a "little white lie" is NEVER acceptable. Just say, "No, thank you" and stick to your guns. You will be admired for your fortitude. I never back to Weight-Watcher's after a leader encouraged "little white lies". Liars are worse than food-pushers. - 5/4/2015 4:25:48 PM
  • Why give excuses? Just say 'No thank you' and walk away. - 5/4/2015 2:38:23 PM
  • Personally a simple No Thank You seems like a better bet then all that hedging and lying, what if you say you are allergic to something and they remember you ate it last time. These seem to be children's techniques not something a confident adult should try. - 3/11/2015 2:14:00 AM
  • A few commentors have noted that it's passive aggressive to lie and what not to "get out of" the situation. While "no thank you" and being assertive is healther, I can identify with many of these "ways" to get the food pusher to go away so I don't hurt their feelings.

    I found that saying "no" made me feel guilty and less worthwhile. I felt "good" when I said "ok". That's not "real" either.

    I swallowed a lot of resentment when folks would try to run me over and I let them do it. It started many a year ago when I was a wee child. I learned to be compliant then. It meant that I became a compliant adult.

    It's taken me some work with a professional to manage through some of those "when I say 'no', I feel guilty" feelings. Sometimes, I do feel guilty, inappropriately. Yet, I feel better saying "no thanks" now knowing that I'm not "wasting" by wearing it home on my thighs. Or to say "no" when I really don't want to do something.

    For those of us who were/are compliant (aka "door mats"), saying "no" can be emotionally painful.

    I think this article really is meant for those of us who grew up being compliant children and became compliant adults. I'm much less compliant now. It is a handy skill to have when it's not overused.

    If you find that you identify with guilt and this article brings up feelings, perhaps finding a professional to dig down into the desire to make everyone else happy before your own self might be worth some time and effort.

    Change is exciting (aka "scary" but I like "exciting" better). Feeling resolute about taking care of yourself is important.

    - 1/27/2015 3:18:51 PM
  • Most of these ideas are good, but I don't agree with the"White Lie" theory of one of them. Sooner or later it comes back to haunt you. - 1/9/2015 9:06:30 AM
  • #12. "No, thank you!" 'Nuff said! - 12/24/2014 12:26:47 AM
  • I say "Dr's orders" Not a lie... my doctor want(ed) me to lose. And people won't "argue" with your DR!
    Also, on arriving, I take a plate, eat a few low calorie items (pickles?), and shmear a bit of something on the plate. Then I can truthfully say I've eaten - 12/8/2014 1:31:43 PM
  • I can't believe how many of these suggestions are also passive-aggressiv
    e or just downright lies. I would much rather be assertive and stand up for myself than make up some ridiculous story about a childhood distaste for butter. It's far more respectful of myself to simply say, "I'm sorry, but I'm watching what I eat right now." Or, "I've been really successful in my plan to eat healthy right now, and I really don't want to start back down that slippery slope."

    Part of making the lifestyle choice to be healthy also means learning to stand up for yourself in a healthy way. I'm very disappointed in this article. - 12/8/2014 9:56:44 AM
  • I have reviewed this article before and it always helps to take another look, especially between Turkey Day and the New Year.
    The passive aggressive comments come in all sizes!
    "How much are you planning to lose?!" "You know those height/weight charts can be off by 10 lbs. or more." "Be careful, if you lose to much weight, you will start looking gaunt and unhealthy, especially in the face."
    Thank you for reinforcing my arsenal of diplomatic refusals. - 12/8/2014 7:03:01 AM

x Lose 10 Pounds by January 9! 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.