How to Say No to a Food Pusher

Saturn Peach Cheesecake Plate with Striped Dress.
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Food pushers are people who insist you fill your plate or try a new dish, even when you stay persistent in keeping on-track with your own food goals. While they may not be intentionally trying to derail your weight loss or health efforts, they can make it more difficult to accomplish your health and weight loss goals.

Reason People Push Food

"Just a little piece," your Mom says, as hot apple pie wafts under your nose, "You can't live on salads forever." You're feeling tempted. "You don't want any of my Black Forest cake?" your aunt asks, looking dejected. "You've always loved my cake. Come on, it's a special occasion."

There are many different types of food pushers and reasons they insist you add more food to your plate:

  • They use food to show love. Perhaps they show their affection by preparing food, but some people want you to try their favorite dishes as a form of love.
  • They are jealous and motivated to sabotage others. They might be seeing your weight loss and fitness successes and are attempting to derail your progress.
  • They love food and want to share it with others. Some people love food, cooking, and dining out and want to share it with those around them.
  • They want approval and praise for their culinary skills. They may have prepared a dish they're proud of and want you to taste test and approve of their cooking.

Do these scenarios seem familiar to you? They aren't unusual. Whether it's a normal dinner or a holiday meal, food pushers seem to be around when you are least prepared.

How to Say No

This situation doesn't have to cause you to overeat. By being diplomatic about how you "just say no" you can avoid both causing hurt feelings and doing damage to your waistline. Here are four ways to deal with food pushers.

Be Honest

Talk to family and friends about your weight-loss efforts. If your family get-togethers always center on a meal, they're going to find out anyway. If your friends always meet at restaurants, it's going to come up.

Explain: You are really committed to losing weight and want it to work. By saying no, you're not trying to offend anyone, it's just really important for you to keep a close eye on what and how much you eat.

Use Stall Tactics

If dessert starts making its way around the table, say something along the lines of, "I would, but right now I'm stuffed and I just wouldn't enjoy it." or "Maybe after a while, I'll have some." In other words... stall.

Eat Small Portions

If you anticipate a dessert offer that you can't refuse, try to eat smaller portions of higher-calorie items during your meal. Then, take a small portion of the dessert. As you take the first few bites of your treat, make sure you give the chef your compliments; she will be less likely to assume that you disliked the dish when you say that firm no to a second helping.

Get It To Go

When offered seconds one too many times, ask for them to be wrapped up so you can take them home. You can always tell the cook you want to be able to enjoy the food later, or that it was so good you want to share it with someone else at home. Whether you eat it later or not is completely up to you—there's no peer pressure when you are alone!

Get Prepared

Sad, but true: In some cases, a food pusher may be hoping you will fail at weight loss. There are those who are driven to sabotage someone trying to lose weight. They may be uncomfortable with your weight loss because of their own weight issues, they might dislike eating "bad" food without you, or they could be jealous or threatened by attention you may be receiving. They could also be practicing an unhealthy diet or lack understanding about nutrition and dieting.

Whatever the cause, it is important that you are assertive, but not aggressive (which will only worsen the situation), when you say no.

Practice being assertive in similar situations or maybe even while looking into the mirror. It may look silly, but if doing so will help you be stronger when the real thing happens, it's worth it.

Prepare yourself to deal with a food pusher by using these tactics:

  • Find ways to spend time together that don't revolve around food.
  • Bring your own healthy snacks to social events.
  • Pair up with like-minded people who also have healthy goals.
  • Don't arrive to a food event hungry.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you stop being a food pusher?

If you've found yourself insisting someone try your dish or take a few bites of food, you might be a food pusher. Instead of commanding people load up their plate, be understanding and respect their dietary choices.

How do you turn down junk food?

If someone offers you junk food or unhealthy dishes, decline politely but firmly. If you know you'll face a food pusher at a holiday or an event, prepare yourself by brining your own snacks, eating beforehand, and opting for smaller and healthier portions.

How do you deal with temptation when you’re trying to lose weight?

If you're trying to lose weight but face tempting foods, do your best to avoid places or events where you know you'll be enticed to indulge. When faced with temptation, plan your meals ahead of time, set clearly-defined goals and communicate them openly, and practice mindfulness when making food choices.

A Word From Verywell

Even if you can't find the "right" way to say no, chances are no permanent damage will be done to the relationships in your life when you do, so stick to your guns. It's not worth avoiding a few ruffled feathers to eat something you truly don't want to take into your body. You have the right to make your health top priority.

Remember, no one but you is in control of your own behavior, so don't let pressure from anyone else sway you from your weight-loss efforts.

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