A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Weight Loss Wednesday: Food Pushers

on November 20, 2013

We’re a little over a week away from Thanksgiving, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about “food pushers.” You know the people I mean – it could be your neighbor who says “You just have to try this” or the grandmother who says “I made this just for you” or the cousin who comments on how “there isn’t enough food on your plate to feed a bird.” All year, we are surrounded by people offering, sometimes gently and sometimes not so gently, temptations in the terms of food or drinks or skipped workouts. In my life, at least, this seems to happen a lot more often around the holidays. The holidays are characterized by celebration and indulgence, so these temptations seem to show up a lot more often. There is not a right answer to how you handle the holidays – stick to your every day eating, choose only your favorites to indulge or say yes to everything and pick back up after the holidays. Whatever works for you is up to you! However, for most of us trying to make healthier lifestyle choices, you’re going to find yourself saying no occasionally. These are the things that help me manage that somewhat gracefully:

– Keep in mind that (in most cases) these aren’t people who are intentionally trying to sabotage your plan. They’re usually people who like to show love through food, who remember the joy you got out of whatever treat they’re offering in years past and who are generally trying to share something about the holiday they enjoy themselves because they want you to feel that joy too. Yes, we all have that passive aggressive (or not so aggressive) person we’ll encounter who really is threatened by your success in adapting a healthy lifestyle, but most people are really coming from a good place in their offers. Reminding myself that it comes from love helps me to respond with a smile and not feel like I’m being quite so bombarded.

– My most used phrase is “Maybe later.” I use this one all the time and it works just as well if you end up taking whatever is offered because it would be socially awkward not to. When people are getting snacks at a post-Thanksgiving football party or pies after the meal itself, I try to hang back and wait to look over the options and think about what I really want. If someone asks or tells me that I just have to try “xyz” item they brought along, I just say that I’m stuffed from the earlier meal and will try something later. Most of the time, this is enough to get us all out feeling socially okay. If someone brings treats into the office and brings one into my office (happens surprisingly often – I work with people who like to share), I just say I’ll try it later and thank them.

– You can also defer due to dietary limitations. You could be as honest or dishonest with this as you like (intending absolutely no disrespect to those with medical dietary issues!). With my steadily worsening lactose intolerance, I’m fairly wary of anything that might contain dairy. It gives me a bit of an excuse if someone is pushing hard for something that might have dairy. The other thing to be aware of (and to blame if you need it) is that as you get used to eating whole/healthier foods, eating something richer/fattier/sugarier than you’re used to may make you legitimately ill. I know that I’ll be sick within the hour if I eat something with too many processed carbs and sugars or fats.

– Eat slowly. Not only does this help you eat less overall in your daily life, in social situations it can help you stay busy so you’re less of a target for a well meaning food pusher.

– Keep a drink (preferably something low calorie if you’re watching your intake) in your hand. It’s easier to avoid reaching out to grab things if your hands are busy. Getting a cup of coffee after dinner has become my fall back position instead of dessert (unless I’ve planned ahead for dessert) because I’m still able to partake in the social part of the post-meal festivities with everyone, but can avoid the calories I’d have from an unplanned dessert.


– Enlist a friend/spouse/kid to distract the pusher when you get cornered (or if necessary in the case of my husband, come save me by eating the thing I got pressured to take!).

– Be upfront about your lifestyle choices and your plan for getting through the holidays. Most people have tried to watch what they’re eating at some point in their lives, so they’ll understand on some level and hopefully be polite enough to drop it at that point.

– The absolute opposite of the honest & upfront approach would be to just lie and say you’ve already tried it or take some and move things around on your plate like a kid (don’t give it to the dog unless you know it is something safe!).

– If someone is blatant and rude about it, there’s really not much to do but smile and excuse yourself to walk away. If they’re being rude, don’t feel the need to cave in. At my grandfather’s funeral a few months ago, when I walked back into the little coffee room at the funeral home for a Diet Dr Pepper, I got ambushed by a particular family member. The coffee room was full of food that people had brought for the visitation with a variety of family members sitting around the table talking and snacking. Someone offered me a snack and before I could say anything, a family member said very loudly that “She can’t eat anything or she’ll just gain it all back”. I smiled, said I was just there for a drink but thank you and left. Don’t engage those people. It’ll just upset you and trigger emotional eating – seriously not worth it and not a battle you will win if you actually engage.

– If it is something you actually do love and want to have, take some and enjoy it! Deprivation is only setting yourself up for failure. Just don’t waste your calories/points/guilt energy on something that is mediocre. Remember, it’s a holiday, not a week or a month – get back on track the next day, the next meal if you can, to your normal eating healthy eating habits.

– It can be hard to stick to the workouts you have planned when you have people pushing you to rest and relax with everyone else. Like with food, decide what you really need in terms of workouts. Your workout may provide the stress relief you need to get through the holiday with a little less booze (or is that just me?). This doesn’t come up as much as the food pushing for me because I try to get my planned workout finished early in the morning before it comes to the attention of anyone else in the household. A lot of the things I use for food also work when someone tries to get me to skip a workout I’ve planned: Maybe later I’ll look at Black Friday sale papers; I need to do “xyz” run for my half marathon training plan; I feel stiff after travel, so I need to move for a bit. Keep it short and sweet, don’t engage in any negativity if you can help it and if you skip some workouts, don’t beat yourself up!

Do you have food pushers in your life? How do you deal with it?

Articles for further reading:

Web MD How to Say No to Food Pushers

Spark People 11 Nice Ways to Say No to Food Pushers

On a slightly depressing personal front, yesterday morning this happened:

imageYes, these earrings are cute, but more importantly they are the first tangible reward I got for myself when I was losing weight. These were my twenty pound reward and I still think about that every time I wear them. I still remember buying them for myself at Anthropologie when I was at about 17 pounds down because I was confident enough in myself to know I would get to twenty pounds. I’ll see if I can fix them, but if not I’ll probably hang onto them anyway. These little  touchstones are powerful reminders for me of where I’ve been.



7 responses to “Weight Loss Wednesday: Food Pushers

  1. leannenalani says:

    Great tips! It’s true that just smiling is a smart way to deal with food pushers or people who make comments. No need to get into an argument with loved ones over something they don’t really understand. I usually smile but don’t always know what to say. Usually I just shrug it off and don’t let it get to me. Then again I am very lucky to not have many food pushers in my life.

    • I’m lucky that most of the people I encounter are easily put off with a smile (aside from that single relative, who I thankfully don’t encounter often!). You’re right – it isn’t worth arguing with someone who isn’t going to persuaded.

  2. Lauren says:

    Great tips! It is always more difficult to resist those food temptations around the holidays, but I try to limit myself to only treating myself on the weekend so I don’t over accidentally over indulge all week long. Luckily I do not have food pushers in my life so I don’t feel bad turning anyone down.

  3. jaime says:

    sorry about your earrings breaking. 😦 definately keep them and look at them to remind yourself of your accomplishments.

    as for food pushers, OMG they are everywhere. i actually do not drink much in terms of alcohol, but my friends keep trying to get me to try other things (i actually get acid reflux from it, and im in pain the next day. so i stay away). where im like nah im good not drinking, so for xmas they will get me bottles of wine (that i just regift) or little bottle of booze to try. im not a person that drinks their calories (ok maybe hot chocolate is my exception). last time i went out to eat with my 3 besties they all ordered a dessert to share, i put my spoon back saying how full i was from my meal and that i had no room to spare.

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