“You’re not going to have any of my stuffing?? But I made it just for YOU!”

– Grandmothers everywhere


We’ve all been there. You’ve got this super slick plan for how you are going to navigate the holidays and not overdo it this year. Because you are 100% NOT overdoing it.

Until Grandma guilt trips you into another piece of pie.

Or Uncle Larry takes charge of serving up your plate.

Or your family’s discussion of your nutrition choices drives you to the point of saying “screw it.”

Well, I say “not this year!” Because you are going to be prepared. And dammit, you are going to be polite so no one will have anything to say about it.

Take a look at the ideas below and choose one or two to give a try at your holiday festivities this year.

Source: ifunny.com

8 Polite Strategies for Even the Most Persistent of Food Pushers

  1. STALL! This is my absolute favorite one. You don’t have to blow anyone off or hurt any feelings and you can even throw a compliment or two in there.

Example response: “Looks fantastic, I will try it in a bit!” (Read: You don’t actually have to circle back to it.)

2. Tell a little white lie. And no one gets hurt. I am not telling you to make lying a habit but this can be a good strategy for extra pushy people who won’t be satisfied until they know you have eaten the thing.

Example response: “I already had some and it’s fantastic.”

3. Use humor. Keep your response light-hearted.

Example response: “One more bite and my pants are going to be embarrassingly tight. Buttons popping off tight. I’m gonna have to pass. Thank you!”

4. Offer up a valid excuse that [hopefully] people won’t argue with. This one is especially helpful when it comes to the boozy beverages.

Example response: “Thank you but I have to drive tonight.” 

5. Stick to your guns and keep it simple. Sometimes less is more and leaving zero room for negotiation is all you need to do.

Example: “No, thank you.” (And leave it at that. If they keep pushing you, resort to strategies 1-4.)

6.  Say “no” but offer an alternative. Sometimes it can be hard to say “no” altogether, especially when someone is trying to play good host. This strategy can be helpful in these situations.

Example: “I am going to pass on the sweet potato casserole but would love a scoop of roasted veggies. They look amazing!”

7. Talk to your family/friends beforehand. Its amazing what a little support prep can do to set you up for success. Talk to family and friends about your goals and don’t be afraid to articulate exactly how they can support you.

Example: “I am feeling so good and really want to stay on track this year. It would be super helpful if you could tell me what is on the menu so I can plan ahead.” Or “I am feeling so good and really want to stay on track this year. I would love to bring a dish to pass, how does [insert healthy dish here] sound.”

8. Create an optical illusion. I know its not polite to play with your food but when Uncle Harry puts mounds of potatoes or stuffing on your plate, its totally legit to push it around a bit to make it look like you ate more than you did.

Sources of Food Pushing

As frustrating as food pushing can be, keep in mind that it is usually coming from one of three places…

  1. Love – Many people truly show their love through food. And reminding yourself of this can make it easier to be polite to those individuals. Because really, at the end of the day, they just want your belly to be full and for you to be happy and that’s a pretty beautiful thing 🙂
  2. Personal insecurities – Often times, people’s own shame around food or their health can be projected onto other’s through food pushing. As the saying goes…”misery loves company.” If you suspect this, stick to your guns, but treat these people with kindness, grace, and compassion. And try to keep your comments light and void of judgment.
  3. Lack of knowledge – For some, there is simply a lack of understanding of how food choices affect the body. And while the holidays are not the ideal opportunity for education, this is a good opportunity to inform your friends and family how YOU feel different/better because of the change(s) YOU have made.

Keeping this bigger awareness in the back of your mind can make it easier to remember that food pushing is generally not about you or an attack on you. There is usually something below the surface going on, allowing us to see the situation more objectively.

Cheers to being polite AND assertive this holiday season! <3



  1. Hahaha, these are all great! Lucky for me, most people know my lifestyle and when they ask if I want more a simple “I am full but it was delicious” seems to suffice. Growing up, it was always my grandmother though. Pushing for us to eat more. Uggghh

    1. Thanks for reading! I agree, as a dietitian, I have the luxury of people not really messing with me when it comes to food choices. But I see this so often in my clients! Especially when they are making shifts/changes to their healthy identity but the fam is not 100% on board yet. And mothers and grandmothers seem to be the biggest perpetrators! haha

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