If you’ve ever made a dietary change that you took seriously for even at least one day, you know the feeling.
You’re trying to stick to a plan but there is someone who insists that you eat something. And it’s usually not their favorite meal prep recipe if you catch my meaning.
For most situations, I do feel it’s important to take on a flexible eating pattern. No one food is going to end a goal just as no one food can save an unhealthy lifestyle. It takes calories to burn calories, and you will eventually get hungry again as your body utilizes energy consumed, whether its off or on your plan. A beer and a few slices of pizza isn’t going to kill you, true.
But nonetheless there are times when we need to tighten the screws a bit; maybe it’s preparing for a show or meet, or maybe its auditing your body and how it responds to a certain eating style or calorie level, or maybe you just want to commit to a goal. So you get started and all is well until you have a family gathering and your grandmother wants you to taste her annual chocolate pie.
Or Uncle Larry wants you to try his barbecue ribs.
Or your co-workers bring in the daily donuts.
Understand the Situation First
There are three main reasons people will push food on you.
- Love. Many people do share their love truly through food. What we do is weird to most people and they simply don’t have the same values, priorities, and interests we have; they just want to fill your belly with tasty food, and that’s a beautiful thing to have that many people don’t. So remind yourself of this when someone insists you try something; it may help you remain polite.
- Personal insecurities. Many people’s own shame around food or their health or body image can be projected onto other’s through food pushing. As the saying goes…”misery loves company.” If you suspect this, stick to your guns, but treat these people with kindness, grace, and compassion. And try to keep your comments light and void of judgment otherwise it just emboldens their own attitudes. Chances are they need guidance, not the best comeback to put them in their place. It’s also human nature to assume this is always the case, but don’t assume it is. Assuming that is it and that people are out to get you is more stress on you than needed, and so is ranting all over the internet about people who in all likelihood are just having fun and want you to have fun too. Of course, it’s hard to be reminded of this reality in a sustained calorie deficit.
- Lack of knowledge. Of course many of US know how food affects our body, but many people don’t. It’s not unusual for someone to have a vague concept of how food choices affect our health. This is an ideal situation to educate people, but more appropriately verbalize how great YOU feel making the choices YOU’VE made. Most people simply don’t understand how good the human body can and should feel.
What to Do Instead; A Few Options
- Stall. Most of the time, people aren’t going to hunt you down and make sure you’re eating what they have from second to second. A quick “it looks fantastic! I’ll try it in a little bit!” will neutralize most situations.
- Use humor. A joke about being so full that you might pop may not offend especially knowing you’ve been fed already.
- Don’t tell a white lie by saying “I’ve already had some.” I’ve heard this advice given, but beside the fact that lying is morally wrong, it can blow up in your face.
- Use an excuse no one can deny. “I have to drive tonight.” – this is hopefully acceptable, as no one with their head screwed on straight will want you to drink and drive.
- Stick to your guns and just say “no, thank you.” Most of the time people are just playing the part of a good host and won’t bother you if you leave zero negotiations upfront. If they insist, then 1 – 4 may help.
- Just be honest about how you feel and about your goals; talk to family and friends about your goals and don’t be afraid to articulate exactly how they can support you. People who matter shouldn’t be a source of anxiety or fear of reproach. If it’s a coworker or acquaintance who would otherwise feel validated giving you stress over your goals, then their opinion isn’t worth worrying about, much less their food offerings.
You can be firm and assertive, but it doesn’t necessarily have to create conflict. As I’ve said before, most people are just wanting to have fun. Use that knowledge to create a supportive atmosphere and continue to crush your goals as intended. And you aren’t a loser for “caving in” and trying Uncle Larry’s ribs, heaven forbid. You are one if you make him feel bad about offering you some.