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Food Pushers: How to Handle Them (And to Not Be Them)

How many times have you been in a social situation, trying to employ your newly acquired healthy eating skills, and a friend makes a comment along the lines of, "Come on, split nachos with me - you can always start dieting tomorrow!" You are already tempted by the smells from the kitchen, your willpower is being tested, and even though you want to say no to your friend, you "give in" and split the nachos. Afterwards, you are left feeling guilty, but also trying to blame your friend's decision to order nachos instead of owning your participation.

This is just one example of a type of food pusher. Food pushers are incredibly common. They could be your friends, your family members, your coworkers - even you could be a food pusher.

Additionally, the type of situation really dictates how best to respond. Here are some common food pusher situations, and how to handle them:

Happy Hour/Brunch With Friends or Coworkers

1. Read the menu ahead of time so you know what you will order. When you get to the restaurant, don't look at the menu and order first, so you aren't tempted by others' orders.

2. Say "No, thanks." It can be as simple as that. If the pusher keeps insisting, encourage that they order the food and you will try a bite, but you are already planning on ordering something else.

3. Fill up on fruits and veggies ahead of time. If you are full, you will be less likely to give in to temptation, or if you do, being full will help you eat less.

4. Be honest. Depending on how close you are with the food pusher, sometimes a frank and honest conversation can help, especially if the pusher is unaware that you are trying to make positive changes.

Work Parties or Office Treats

1. Ask that food be kept in the office kitchen - it is out of sight, out of mind, and requires a special trip to go eat it.

2. Again, filling up on fruits or veggies before a work party (birthday cake, anyone?) can be a great way to ensure that you aren't overeating. Try asking for a smaller piece, or seeing if a coworker would like to split one with you.

Anyone Who Makes Comments About Your Weight or Food

1. Depending on the comment, you may have the desire to make a smart comment back. However, oftentimes it is sufficient enough to say "Ouch" if the comment offended, or reply practically if the comment is outrageous.

Example: "You don't eat enough, have some more! What, you don't like it?" (After eating a plate)

Reply: "Thank you, but I'm more than full. It was so delicious, I wouldn't mind a to-go container!"

2. To someone who is trying to guilt you into eating, it is important to remember that they may be going through their own unhealthy relationship challenges with food. Extending grace or empathy can help defuse the situation. You may have felt exactly as they feel.

Example: "You really need to eat this cake, not just a few bites - don't let it go to waste when we made it just for you."

Reply: "I appreciate it, it is a beautiful cake. It is so delicious and I find I am really able to savor each bite. I have enjoyed eating it mindfully."

These are just a few examples of the types of food pushers out there. At the end of the day, you are in control of what you put into your mouth -- you don't have to relinquish that control because others don't want to be alone in their less healthy choices! At the same time, it is important to recognize if you have been food pushing. It can be easy to fall into food pushing behavior, especially when you don't want to be the only one "indulging" -- but that is a strong sign that despite the work you are putting into it, your relationship with food is still not quite "healthy".

Still feeling like you are struggling with what to say to particular pushers? Noticing that you yourself have been food pushing? Reach out today - we would love to help!

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