Let's face it, it's hard enough to say no to tempting foods. Add a nagging nuisance to the mix, and that temptation can escalate to complete and total dietary abandon. Frustrating? No doubt. Avoidable? For sure.

Obviously you can't dodge social situations forever, you have a life to live, and some food-centric holiday is always just around the corner. You need a game plan.

"Just saying no" is, well, easier said than done. Why? Because in almost, if not all cultures, food is love. And when we say no to food, it can hurt feelings and cause guilt. Simply steering clear isn't always an option, so here is how to deal with the top 3 food pushers you'll encounter this holiday season and beyond.

Food Pusher #1 Sweet Grandma

Why they push: Because they love you. For older generations, many of whom have memories of food scarcity, food means love. So when they put your favorite pie under your nose and say, "but I made it just for you," there's really no way you can say no. 

How to push back: Accept the gift, but it doesn't mean you have to eat it. Take a bite if you must, but take the rest "for later"; after all, you're feeling too full from all the other delicious food, and you really want to savor it. (If you don't trust yourself, "accidentally" leave it or throw it out when you are a safe distance away.) Then, show love back some other way: Offer to help clean the kitchen or wash the dishes from that pie. To them, it's not actually about the food. 

Food Pusher #2: Your Unsupportive Frienemy

Why they push: Misery loves company. It's easier for your friend or acquaintance (think holiday office parties) to feel OK about their unhealthy choices when they have a partner in crime, so they will try to drag you down with them. They say things like "Ooo, let's be bad and go for the full-fat" or "You just HAVE to try one of these." They can get you into trouble, and leave you both feeling guilty the next day. 

How to push back: Remember that change is hard for everyone, and other people seeing you make good decisions can cause them to take a good hard look at themselves. With people you know but are not close to, a simple "no thank you" should do, but if they are exceptionally pushy, just fib. Shut 'em down. "I'm allergic." "I don't like that." "I already had some." One of these should get them off your back. Luckily, with friends, you can be a little more frank. Either tell them to leave you alone, or use your powers for good and try to convince them to make healthy choices, too. If not? To each their own. 

Food Pusher #3: The Oblivious Comment-er

Why they push: because they are oblivious and/or insensitive. "That's all you're eating?" "What, are you on a diet?" "Eat more, you're too skinny!" are enough to make everyone turn to see what you are, or aren't, eating and make you shove a cookie into your mouth out of embarrassment. Food is a sensitive, emotional topic for many- but not for all, and most of the time they don’t realize their simple comment has so much power.

How to push back: Let it go or fire back: it depends on your audience. Give them a taste of their own medicine- "Yeah, now let's all dissect everything you put in your mouth the rest of the night" or answer their comments-thinly-veiled-as-questions point blank, or perhaps with a bit of snark. Whatever your style, shut it down.

 

At the end of the day, you are in complete control of what you put in your mouth and how you move your body. However you choose to handle the food pushers in your life, you are still the boss of your own life choices, so smile, breathe, and forge ahead! 

by Kelly Turner

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