How to Deal With Food Pushers
Last week I went out to visit some family I haven't seen in a long time. It was great to see them! It had almost been 10 years since my last visit. I always have a good time out there. They were very hospitable. My cousins gave me a bed to sleep in, took us out on the sail boat and took us out to explore a very cute east coast beach town.
It was a nice short get away and wonderful to reconnect with family! One thing that I struggled with, was the food pushing. It takes me a couple of hours to get an appetite in the morning especially if I haven't moved or exercised, and although breakfast was casual yogurt and coffee I couldn't help but feel slightly awkward for not eating when the food was put out. Thank god there was coffee (not only for my caffeine addiction) but also as an excuse to deflect forcing myself to eat.
Do you have an over bearing mother who insists you are not getting enough protein? If you order a salad for dinner does everyone at the table start putting their meal on your plate because clearly you didn't want to eat what you ordered. Maybe its not even food. You might have relatives or friends who can't get over the fact that you aren't drinking or you only had one beer. "Why aren't you drinking? Are you pregnant??"
Lord help me! Seriously! I try to stay connected with my hunger cues. I try to check in when I'm full or what my cravings are. This isn't to say that I NEVER eat if I'm not hungry. Of course if its somebody's birthday and the cake is and of my favorites then yeah I'm going to eat for the social occasion but when you are staying with friends or family for extended time periods you might not be on the same eating schedule or even the same food.
Why should we be "polite" and stuff our faces with food when we aren't hungry ? How do you get your love ones to respect your food boundaries? And how on earth do we do this without ruining a relationship?
First off, I think its important to acknowledge that whoever the food pusher is they are coming from a place of love. Food is complicated. Its not just calories, it is emotional. Friends and family want to nourish us an shower us with love. But let's get real. Friends and family are also really good at pushing boundaries sometimes.
Its okay to say "no thanks" If its a relative or a friend that you are not super close with sometimes it can be a little uncomfortable to turn them down. You know your body better than anyone else in the world. Its okay. Give yourself permission to respect your body. Be nice (don't insult them) and give them a simple "No, thanks. I'm full, but maybe later I'll try some."
Don't feel like drinking.....Have your own drink! It doesn't have to be alcohol you could do tea, bubbly water, or coffee. Often times people will leave you be as long you have something in front of you or in your hands. I listened to a podcast once where the host suggested putting tonic water into a fancy glass. Everyone just assumes your drinking the same thing as them. I find that this strategy works in situations to deflect food pushers too. When I am at a restaurant when I'm not hungry I'll order just a drink. I always joke and tell the waiter "I'm on the liquid diet."
Empathy......At the end of the day we are all just people that want to be loved and want to give love. Find other ways to connect with that person.If you are at a party hopefully the guest has provided some type of activity, a Frisbee, video games, cards, etc. In my opinion this makes it easier to connect with people and it keeps your hands busy. You can't push food if you are distracted! If no games are provided use your smart phone. There are tons of silly, free mobile games out. Not a mobile gamer? Nothing beats good old fashion conversation.
Hopefully this helps with the food pushing people in your life. You are allowed to say no. Its completely okay. If you'd like more tools to help you with food boundaries or more depth to this conversation please feel free to reach out to me through my website or reach out to me about intuitive eating coaching!