How to Say ‘No’ to Food Pushers

The holidays can be a stressful time – especially when navigating the hustle and bustle of holiday events. For those practicing mindful eating or following a healthy meal plan, it may start to seem overwhelming. From parties to family gatherings, food is everywhere, and so are the opportunities to encounter food pushers.  

What is a food pusher? A person who either aggressively or passive aggressively makes you feel obligated to eat. Their motives can be good, bad or a combination. Oftentimes, food pushers are unaware of their actions and the impact on you.  

If you’re ready to set some healthy boundaries with the food pushers in your life, try the strategies below. 

Practice saying “no” – Practice saying “no” to food before holiday gatherings. Politely decline if you’re offered food when not hungry. Say “no” to dessert at restaurants or when tempted to pick up cookies at the grocery store just because they’re on sale.  

Arm yourself with responses – Be firm and polite when responding to a food pusher. Walk in confidently with a toolbox of responses to set yourself up for success. See examples below.  

  • “It is so thoughtful of you to make my favorite pie. I will take some of it home later.”  
  • “You’re such a great cook! I would rather savor it later when I’m hungry.”  
  • “I know it’s the holidays, but I feel like I can spend more quality time with my family when I am not so full.”  
  • “I had some already and it was delicious.”  
  • “No, thank you.” (Sometimes a simple “no” is best) 

Share your journey – If you’ve been advised by one of our doctors, dietitians or health care providers to make healthy lifestyle changes, share with the food-pusher. Sometimes saying your doctor advised you to follow a plan will be taken more seriously. 

Remember to give yourself grace. If you eat something you later regret, that’s okay. Reset yourself and jump back into your plan. 

The bottom line: You can enjoy the holidays and stop the vicious cycle of shame and regret by creating a thoughtful plan to handle food pushers. You are in control of your health! 

If you are struggling with your weight, our Bariatric and Metabolic Institute may be the answer for you. Learn about our weight loss services at Also, visit our blog for healthy recipes and other heart health resources.