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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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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 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 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.
    - You´ll put me in a coma! Are you trying to kill me?
    - It doesn´t look appealing anymore once you realize that´s what´s 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 I´ll miss the rest of the event!
    It really annoys me when people think they know what I should do, whether it´s food or something else. Make a dumb comment, get a dumb answer. They asked for it. Most of the time, they´re just trying to make themselves feel better about eating unhealthy foods, and I don´t 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
  • I have said many times "I don't like that." If they say I have seen you eat it before, I say "and I didn't like it then either" - 4/20/2014 12:06:14 PM
  • The worst food pushers are the ones who want you to eat junk while they're eating junk so they don't have to feel guilty about their poor choices in front of you. I'm trying more and more to just avoid as many of these situations as I can. - 4/20/2014 10:02:47 AM
  • What ever happened to plain old "no thank you?" It works and it's the most polite, in my opinion. - 4/18/2014 11:51:42 AM
  • That one about 'I'll have to force you to eat it' just brought my hackles up. My response would be, 'You can try, but my dad tried to all through my childhood, and he didn't manage it, so you certainly won't'. I loathe roast dinners because of him. Gah! - 4/18/2014 11:38:29 AM
  • 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
  • SARAHELLO
    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