Fending Off Food Pushers During the Holidays

Do you come from a family of food pushers?

A food pusher is someone who tries to coax or shame you into eating more food. These people generally have good intentions. Maybe your Auntie Edna really is concerned you’ll waste away without a heaping spoonful of her kugel. And your buddy with the ninjalike eggnog refilling reflexes? He just wants you to have a good time.

However, food pushers can seriously sabotage your healthy eating ambitions during the holidays, particularly when you’re frequently in their company. To be clear, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for the way you eat. You are under no obligation to eat foods you don’t want, or that don’t fit your goals. I don’t care how much trouble your well-meaning loved ones went through to make the dish.

That said, some artful dodging can help you to avoid being nagged or guilted into eating foods that you don’t even want. Read on for 5 tips for fending off food pushers.

Honor the Intent

Is cooking your mama’s love language? If so, she might be just as satisfied with a heartfelt, “thank you–you know how I love your (insert food name here).” Recognize the effort that she put into the dish, and express some gratitude for her display of love.

Be Honest

Tell your loved one that you’re working hard on your nutrition. My best line for that? “Grandma, your meatloaf is so amazing that I can never cut myself off, even when I’m full. The thing is, I’ve really been working hard on being a healthier eater, and I can’t be tempted like that right now. I know you love me and you’ll understand.”

Take it to Go

Play the so-full-you-can’t-eat-another-bite card, but ask if you can take a serving home for later. From there, it’s up to you what you do with the food. Throw it away if it’s not something you’re crazy about.

But what if you do love it? If it’s a decadent food that you tend to overeat, split it up into small portions (anywhere from 1-2 bites to 1 serving) and eat it over several days or freeze it. If it’s a healthy dish that you honestly were just too full to enjoy, include it in modest amounts as part of your meal plan. Doing so may actually make your meal plan more fun and increase the odds that you’ll stick with it during the holidays!

Share Your Journey

Sometimes, pushers subconsciously push in order to feel better about their own eating habits. Perhaps you could inspire a healthy change by sharing a bit about your own health and fitness journey? The trick, here, is to focus on you. Don’t try to fix them, and don’t be that guy/gal who talks about the gym nonstop the entire dinner. I suggest something like, “Thanks, but I’ve been working hard at the gym and am super motivated right now. I want to keep the ball rolling.” Answer any questions they might have without judgment, and feel free to send them our way! Our January nutrition challenge would be a great way to kickstart some healthy habits–stay tuned for more details!

When All Else Fails, Tell a White Lie

This works especially well with cocktails, in my experience. Carry around a club soda on the rocks with a lime wedge. Anytime your loved ones offer you a cocktail, hold up your glass and say, “thanks, I just got one!” Then clink glasses and offer a toast–it is the holidays, after all!



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