Food pushers are just about everywhere. No—I am not talking about the street vendors selling hot dogs or reps asking you to sample their latest product. I am talking about friends, relatives, coworkers, in-laws and anyone else you know who insist on pressuring you to eat. Whether it is a family function, an office party or a girl’s night out, there is always someone there trying to convince you to break your healthy habits and indulge. While we are all entitled to enjoy a little bit of the unhealthy stuff from time to time, letting these food pushers successfully convince us to eat foods we may not want is a recipe for a diet disaster.

Conventional wisdom would tell you that the best way to not let a food pusher get the best of you is to distant yourself from them. But that is not so easy if you work with them, see them every day or are related to them! So then what do you do?

The first thing you have to come to terms with is that there are people who are always going to try to get you to eat whether you want to or not. Remember when your parents tried to get you to eat something you detested or had no interest in trying? Once you realize food pushers are a part of life, you will be in the right frame of mind to handle them. How? Here are some ways to handle a persistent food pusher:


  1. Stop and think—is it worth it? Did you exercise really hard today or the day before? Do you really want to undo all that hard work by gorging on foods that someone else wants you to eat? Are you really hungry? If you answered “no”, then politely say “no thanks” and walk away.
  2. Find a better (healthier) alternative. Why is it that most food pushers are not pushing fruits, vegetables or healthy offerings? When a platter of mini hot dogs are presented to you, ask if there is something healthier that you can eat and still enjoy. This way they can still “push” the food on you, but it will not ruin your healthy ways.
  3. Fill up ahead of time. If you know you’re going to be in a situation where unhealthy food will be everywhere, eat something filling beforehand. Most food pushers are successful because you are hungry which makes willpower all the more difficult. But if you are already full, the food will be less tempting and it will be easier to resist. You can also fill up by drinking a glass or two of water either before you get to your destination or as soon as you get there.
  4. You are not rude. Some of us feel bad if we do not sample the host’s award-winning apple pie or the crème brulee she slaved over for hours. So rather than refusing it, we cave in and eat it—all of it. Saying “no” is not rude. Just like she slaved away in the kitchen baking pie, you slaved away at the gym. Maybe you can make a deal with her—you will eat the pie if she drops and gives you 100 push-ups!


So why do people push food? It is not from disrespect, a feeling of ill will or a desire to make you gain weight. It is human nature to want to feed friends, family and guests. It is natural for others to want you to share in what they are enjoying. By understanding this, you will not see them as saboteurs or as people trying to change your ways.

Just remember that a nibble, taste or indulgence is okay as long as it is what you want and not what someone else wants. Like anything else in life, you should live on your own terms. You certainly would not let someone talk you into doing something dangerous or absurd so stick to those same guns when it comes to eating food. And do not worry about hurting someone’s feelings. The only bad feelings will be the ones in your stomach from eating too much unwanted food.

Remember, a few nibbles can add up if you are not careful. It is usually safer to refuse the food altogether rather than succumbing to the pressure and possibly eating more than what you intended, especially if you know you struggle with self-control when it comes to that 7 layer taco dip. If you don’t want to indulge, moderation is the key. Try splitting the food with someone or only eating half of it.

“Just Say No” has never been more meaningful or powerful than when confronted by a food pusher. With so many other pressures in the world to deal with, food pushers should not be one of them. Stay strong, stay on track and stay focused and you won’t have to worry about those unwanted nibbles finding their way on your scale.