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Are Your Friends Food Pushers?

Kayla Reynolds, MS

Okay, so maybe your friends aren’t making you “fat” but they could be standing in your way of your health goals.

Food pushers, we all know them.

“One piece won’t kill you.”

“But I made this just for you.”

“Here, have seconds.”

Whether it’s the server who keeps refilling the bread basket or trying to sell you a few greasy appetizers, or your aunt who bakes you brownies even though she knows you’re trying to eat healthier, food pushers are all around you.

Some food pushers are upfront and deliberate, like a friend who tells you you’re “no fun” when you don’t eat the less healthy foods he or she does. Others push food on you in more subtle ways, like a server who refills your soda or a family member who fills your plate with seconds without asking.

Regardless, food pushers are hard to handle, especially those you know well.

So what can you do about it?

Your best bet is to have a few techniques to handle these situations when they come up:

  1. First, do a “cost-analysis”: Think about the costs of saying no to a food pusher — maybe they’ll be disappointed for a short period of time. Then consider the costs to you of saying yes. Besides eating more food than you’d intended, maybe you’ll feel weak or guilty for giving in, or maybe it’ll make it easier for you to say “yes” in the future and gain weight in the long-term. Recognizing the costs of giving in ahead of time will help you say “no” more confidently.
  2. Then, be assertive: Once you’ve decided on what you want to do, it’s important to be assertive when delivering your message. Being polite yet firm will help your message be clear and leave less room for interpretation or further pushing.
  3. Maybe give a reason: Although you don’t have to justify yourself, providing a food pusher with a reason for saying no, such as “I’m not hungry” or “I don’t want dessert today,” could help deter them and help you become more comfortable in these types of situations.
  4. Or disarm with humor: Make a joke and tell the food pusher “I can’t eat dessert because I’m driving,” for example. This can help break the ice and make light of the situation.
  5. You can also simply say “no, thank you”: No matter how the food pusher responds, simply reply “no, thank you.” You might need to say this over and over — almost like a broken record. You’ll probably notice that the food pusher will eventually give up, and this may even deter them in the future. This can be the hardest approach, but with practice, you can master the art!