"That pie looks divine but I simply can't take another bite! Can you give me the recipe so that I can try it later?”
"That pie looks divine but I simply can't take another bite! Can you give me the recipe so that I can try it later?”

October 2, 2017

How to Handle Social Eating with Grace

Tactics to Decline Food Offers without Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth

Have you ever struggled to say “NO” at family gatherings and other social events when offered food that you know isn’t good for your body? 

It’s a fact that even when friends and family members know you are trying to lose weight and get healthier, we often feel pressured to go for the fast food, have seconds or eat dessert. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that others want to sabotage you or ruin your success – it can just be part of a person’s history or culture to use food as a gift to share with those they love. 

“I grew up poor, and my father couldn’t provide as much as he wanted for us, but he felt that he could show his love for us by feeding me as much as he could, even when I wasn’t hungry. But, I gained weight and developed high blood pressure and diabetes. I had to have a tough conversation with him and help him find new ways to show he cared,” says one patient. 

“That’s so hard to do because families sometimes show love by feeding you, but they don’t realize that it can be hurting you too. You have to think of showing people that there are other ways to show love. If you tell them to just stop altogether, they feel they have no way to show their love.”

Here are some tips on what you can do at social gatherings to stay on track with your wellness goals.

Politely ask to pass the salad, then change the conversation to something other than food – like how much fun you're having!What to Say When: Offered Something You’d Rather Not Eat

“I sure wish I could have some, but I’m just so full from all the other delicious food right now. Maybe a little later.”

“Thanks, I’ll pass and just keep you company while you enjoy!”

“No, thank you.” (Said firmly, without explanation at all.)

 

What to Say When: Offered Seconds

“No, thank you, it was delicious though! Can you give me the recipe?”

“No thanks. Hey, how are your kids doing – I haven’t seen them lately!” (This is a great diversion tactic.)

“You know, I realized that my stomach doesn’t feel good when I eat _____ (insert food here), so now I try to avoid feeling like that.”

“I have _____ (diabetes, prediabetes, etc.) and so I’m making changes in what I eat to improve my health.”

“My doctor told me I can’t eat that, unfortunately. But it smells amazing!”


This is rare, but some people may seem like they are trying to sabotage you or are even taking your refusal personally. They may make statements like, “Well, I eat cake every day, and I’m fine.”

Politely explain to them that each person is different and that you are taking time to focus on the best choices for your health.

If you are pushed further, you can follow up with these options:

“Sorry, I need to choose what I eat more carefully for my health.” 

“Sorry, I need to put my needs and goals first.”