Food promoters seek to sabotage your relationship with food by commenting on your dietary choices or asking you to eat differently—whether it’s more, less or different types of food — compared to the present.
You know: Aunt Suzy insists you have seconds left before you finish your meal. Or you can count on your co-workers to say things like, “I can’t believe you’re just going to have a salad for lunch!” These are both examples of pushing food.
This may seem innocuous, but commenting on someone’s food choices or encouraging them to eat something they don’t want is disrespectful of boundaries. Intentional or not, pressure eating can make you feel uncomfortable, or worse, skew your dietary preferences.
There are countless reasons why someone might refuse a food — they may have medical reasons to avoid a particular food or ingredient, moral or ethical reasons, nutritional goals Or maybe they’re not hungry at the moment. Either way, you have to decide what you put in your body and you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Finding a polite way to say no will help you stick to the eating habits you’ve chosen for your body, goals, and mindset.
Why do people push food
People force others to eat for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they’re insecure about their food choices, they want someone to enjoy their food with them, or they’ve learned that making sure everyone eats is a form of love or kindness.
“Food pushers can have a variety of reasons why they push food. While push-pushing may seem personal and extra strenuous, remember that pushers show care. Their food can be about serving others. Food is social and a way to connect,” reports Kathryn Fink Martinez, MS, RD, CEDS-S is an Intuitive and Specialized Eating Consultant. Certified eating disorder expert.
Most of the time, the food push is subconscious. People do it unintentionally and may not see harm. Here are some reasons why people might push food:
- Use food to show love: Some people show their affection by preparing food and want you to try their favorite foods as a form of love.
- Love food and want to share it with others: Some people love food, cooking and dinner and want to share these with those around them.
- Wants approval and praise for their cooking skills: They may have prepared a dish they are proud of and want you to taste and compliment their cooking. They may be insecure and are seeking approval.
- They may be insecure about their own food choices: Insecure people tend to put others down in order to lift themselves up. This type of food promoter may find you happier with the changes you’re making and make subconscious comments to disrupt that happiness and find relief with their own insecurities. .
- Use food as a reward or for emotional gratification: It’s not uncommon for people to want to celebrate an achievement or upset people with food. Chances are they learned this from their own childhood experiences.
- They may not understand your dietary restrictions: People may not be familiar with your health condition or dietary restrictions. They may worry that you are not eating and prompt you to do so.
- They may disagree with your food or dietary choices: People with strong food belief systems often want people to conform to their ideals for authentic or other reasons.
Kathryn Fink Martinez, RD
Food pushers can have many different reasons why they push food. While pushing may seem personal and work harder, keep in mind that the way a pusher shows interest can be in service to others. Food is social and a way to connect.
– Kathryn Fink Martinez, R.D
You often find yourself in a situation where someone is forcing you to eat or commenting on your food choices. Learning to say no will help you deal with these experiences in the future.
How to say no to food
Since you probably don’t want to draw attention to yourself or hurt anyone’s feelings by saying no to beer at a barbecue, you’ll want to be diplomatic and keep it short and to the point. heart.
Try these tips to learn how to say no to foods you don’t want to eat:
Many food pushers are not happy to be told “no” and will continue to force you to eat. It can be uncomfortable, but you’ll have to be happy to repeat yourself and stick to your boundaries.
“Replying politely and firmly ‘no thanks’ is enough, you don’t have to explain why,” notes Martinez. “You may have to repeat your answer with certainty, many times.” And that is normal and sometimes necessary.
Either way, it’s important to be assertive, but not aggressive (which will only make the situation worse) when you say no.
It can be helpful if you change the subject immediately upon feedback. You can simply say, “no, thanks” and immediately include a question to distract the pusher. Maybe something like, “what are your plans for this weekend, it must be great weather!”
Keep it positive
Avoid making negative comments about your food, your body, or your state of health when rejecting a food promoter. Instead, gently compliment the chef for their hard work and how great the dish looks or tastes while politely declining.
Martinez recommends using one of the following phrases when handling food pushers:
- “I appreciate the thoughtfulness and generosity. I cannot accept this item.”
- “This doesn’t respond to what’s best for my body right now.”
- “My dietitian, therapist, or doctor would disagree that this is best for me right now.”
Your health and goals are important to you — that’s fair. Making your boundaries clear and honest about your choices can prevent food promoters from following them.
Informing your limits honestly and openly puts you in control of what you eat and lets others know your wants and needs. Remember that you are allowed to say no without guilt.
Before you spend time with the food pusher
Without fail, every time you go to a family gathering, someone will comment on what you are eating or not eating. The apprehension is almost enough to keep you from attending. Instead of letting your fear of food pressure get you down, take some time to map out how you would handle the situation if it arises.
Assertiveness can help you control your emotions and communicate effectively. Your life experiences have shaped your communication skills up to this point. If you’re not an assertive person, to begin with, you’ll need practice and time to change your communication style. Here are some tips for becoming more assertive:
- Define your style: Do you speak up? Or do you keep quiet? Do you get overwhelmed quickly? Or find yourself a ball of emotions? Evaluate your communication style first so you know what you’re working with.
- Use the “I” statement: Doing so will help communicate your needs effectively without being charged.
- Write your dialogue: Sometimes it’s hard to think of what you want to say in the moment. Pre-write a useful sentence or phrase the way you prepared it.
- Practice or practice saying “no”: It can be helpful to say your phrase aloud or practice saying “no” to lower your comfort level and help you feel more confident.
- Use body language: Body language also conveys messages. Stand up straight and act confident, even if you don’t feel it. Posture can make a difference in how others receive your message.
- Optimism up: It’s normal to get frustrated or angry very easily. These feelings can get in the way of communicating your thoughts. Take a deep breath and start over if necessary. Try to stay calm, breathe slowly and focus on what you are trying to say.
- Role Playing: Ask your partner or a friend to help you practice setting boundaries in challenging situations. Evaluate how you did and tweak areas where improvement could be used.
Be clear about your boundaries
Be consistent with your boundaries. If you say you don’t want something, but then allow someone to pressure you into serving, you’re telling that person they can keep pushing. Instead, stick to your boundaries, be confident, and stay optimistic. Once others see that you’re serious, they’ll ignore it and you can continue to enjoy whatever festival you’re participating in.
Avoid challenging situations
You know your food preferences. Take the time to research the restaurant in advance or ask about the menu so you can be sure there’s something you can eat (and want to eat). Having that information will allow you to make choices that work for you, such as bringing along certain foods you can enjoy in the event that not much is offered.
Ask for help
Update your friend or spouse about your food preferences so they can assist you if needed. A support person in your corner is a powerful thing and can boost your confidence enough to help you get your point across in a decent way.
A very good word
Even if you can’t find the “right” way to say no, it’s likely not going to cause permanent damage to the relationships in your life when you do, so stick with the gun. It’s not worth avoiding a few feathers to eat something you really don’t want to get on your body. You have the right to make your personal health a top priority. Remember, no one but you controls your own behavior.
frequently asked Questions
How can you stop being a food pusher?
If you find yourself begging someone to try your food or take a few bites of your food, you may be a food pusher. Instead of ordering people to clear their plates, understand and respect their dietary choices. Consider how uncomfortable you would feel if someone pressed on you.
How do you refuse junk food?
There are no good or bad foods, just foods with varying levels of nutrients. If someone offers you something you don’t want to eat, a simple “no thanks” will suffice. You may have to repeat yourself, but be firm and positive to keep the mood light while strengthening your boundaries.
How do you deal with temptation when you’re trying to lose weight?
Remember that no food is above the allowable limit. Taking food off the pedestal can make them less appealing. When food is limited, you are more likely to have cravings. Instead, give yourself permission to eat and remember that the delicious food will always be there tomorrow if you don’t want it now.
How do I say no to food at work?
Workplace food culture is a powerful thing. The opportunities to eat all the foods that you don’t have in your home are almost endless. Bringing your own food makes it easier to say no to pushers.
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