One of the big challenges in losing weight, and especially in keeping it off, are your relations with other people. These interpersonal traps can be subtle, or extremely aggressive. Everyone who decides to lose weight eventually encounters a food pusher, so it’s good to have a strategy in advance.
There are a number of reasons why people may want to push food on you. Perhaps they show their affection through food, they genuinely want you to experience the flavor, they strongly associate particular food with particular activities, they may feel threatened by your healthier choices, or they may be actively trying to sabotage your weight loss efforts.
It Can Be Hard To Say No
With some food pushers, a gentle “no thanks” works fine. With others it’s not so easy. When someone is insistent that you “have just a taste”, your ability to say no may be influenced strongly by who it is. Some people have trouble saying no to siblings or parents, others struggle with external authority figures like their boss. If your work situation requires restaurant eating (or alcohol consumption), keeping your calories under control can be challenging.
Try the Broken Record Technique
In the broken record technique, you simply say “no thanks”, repeating as often as necessary. Don’t justify yourself. Don’t offer an explanation. Just continue to say “no thanks” each time food or drink is proffered or pushed it you, until they give up.
“Have another glass of wine.”
“But I just opened a new bottle.”
“You never have just one glass.”
“It’s really good. You’ll like it.”
“What’s the problem? You can’t leave me to drink this alone.”
“No problem. And no, thanks.”
“It’s more fun if you drink with me.”
“You really won’t have just one more glass?”
You Don’t Have To Give a Reason
It’s important to remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your choices. You can choose to give one if you wish. Just don’t get caught in feeling that you need to justify why you don’t want to eat more food (or drink more high calorie liquor). If you want to offer a polite explanation, here are some examples.
“No thanks, I don’t want any.”
“I couldn’t fit in another bite.”
“I had dinner before I came over, and I’m stuffed.”
“I had some earlier.”
“I’m not hungry right now.”
Make Changes Where You Have the Power
If you struggle to change your food pusher’s behavior, you’re likely to fail. Pushing food at you is what they do. Forcing your family or coworkers to change is not within your control. To succeed in sticking to your diet, and keeping your weight off, you need to be able to refuse their offers whether or not they stop pushing.
What is within your control is changing your response, so although they can be frustrating, learning to hold your ground and consistently, politely, and assertively refuse what is proffered will work for you. It will probably even help re-train their behavior over time, since if you haven’t learned to say a firm “no”, up until now their food pushing behavior has been successful.
Every time you’ve given in, you’ve demonstrated that you will let them get their way. Once you decide to be assertive and refuse, doing it consistently will discourage their food pusher behavior, but it will take some time.
Food Pushers Make Me Feel Guilty
When you have chosen a healthier lifestyle, you are going to experience food pushing from people who are threatened by your choice. Maybe it’s the folks in the office telling you “but we always have donuts on Fridays.” Maybe it’s a family member pushing you to have dessert, or a second dessert, or another beer.
Just remember that your choice is nothing to do with them. You are doing what you are doing for the sake of your own health. You have health and weight goals you intend to reach, and they have nothing to do with these people. If they choose to feel disappointed by your behavior, that is their choice. How long do you think their disappointment will last? It certainly won’t last as long as it will take you to lose the extra calories if you give in.
One of the (many) reasons why medical weight loss works is that your weekly check-ins offer social support for your choice to lose weight. If you’re in Hawaii and struggling with a food pusher or any other weight loss related issue, consider giving us a call.