How to Deal with Food Pushers at the Holidays

We all have food pushers in our lives; those people who encourage us to eat the food that they have prepared, even when we are already too full.

For many food pushers, they see food as a kind gesture or an expression of their love for you, which makes it even more challenging to say NO!


If we continue to eat when we aren’t hungry, or we really don’t like the food, it can become a self-destructive habit.

It can be quite a conundrum. You don’t want to hurt this person’s feelings, but you also want to tune into what YOUR body needs.

And, if you are used to putting others’ needs before your own, I’m guessing you might find this particularly challenging.

“Mom spent hours making my favorite pie! How could I possibly say no?”

It Feels Good To Be Nurtured

First, I want to acknowledge all the emotions you feel when someone makes something especially for you. It feels good to be cared for and loved.

And, you might also be realizing that your mom is getting older, you want to cherish any time you have with her. Who knows how many times you’ll be able to enjoy this special pie?

If you’ve been eating this special holiday food for years, with memories of being super-full afterwards, it can be really hard to change things up.

Get Creative

But, that’s where curiosity and creativity come in handy.

In the spirit of peace during the holidays, let’s brainstorm some ways to strengthen your self-care muscle without alienating your family!

Let’s say you’ve just finished a delicious holiday meal. In comes your mom (or aunt, or sister, or father) with 4 different desserts. You purposely saved some room for a small slice of pumpkin pie. You ask for a sliver of one pie, and then the pushing starts:

  • “You only want that tiny piece? But, I made all your favorites!”
  • “This is a new recipe; you HAVE to try just a little.”

Here are some of my go-to phrases when the food pushers come out:

These might work for you, but you could also come up with some of your own:

  • No, thank you.
  • No, thanks. I’m just too full.
  • I would love to try that dish you made, but I am so full right now. I couldn’t eat any more without feeling sick.
  • Thank you so much for making my favorite dish! It looks and smells so delicious, and I know how much time you spent making it. I would really like to eat this when I can enjoy it, but I’m just too full right now.
  • That looks so delicious and I would love to try it. I’m just so full right now that I don’t think I would enjoy it. Do you think you could wrap some up for me to take home so I can have it later?
  • That looks amazing. I’m so full right now though. I think maybe I’d like to have some of it for breakfast tomorrow though.
  • Wow, that looks delicious. Would you be willing to share the recipe?
  • You know, I’m finding that eating [insert food] hasn’t been making me feel great, so I’m going to skip it this time.

(Note: if you really don’t like the food, but you really don’t want to reveal that yet, no one has to know that you didn’t eat the food you took home, or you didn’t use the recipe you asked for. Do what feels right to you!)

Do you have any other ideas?

Make a Plan

Changing the narrative takes courage and practice.

Just like how we train our muscles by repetition and consistency, we also train our behavioral and emotional muscles by practicing.

Now, I’m a huge fan of practicing BEFORE you find yourself at that holiday table!

  • Start small.
  • Pick a phrase from the list above, and say those words aloud when it’s just you alone in the room. Do that a few times one day.
  • Then practice saying them in front of the mirror.
  • Finally, say these words to a friend or a spouse.

Just as if you were giving a talk or speech, practice makes progress and makes the words sound less foreign.​


But, when you start putting yourself and your needs towards the front of your life, you will feel so good knowing you’re taking care of yourself too!


You’ve got this!

​​Do you have some relatives who might be able to support you better if there was a relevant resource?

I’ve created a free, downloadable PDF handout just for this purpose!

Download your copy of “How to Support Your Family or Friend As They Work on Intuitive Eating” by clicking the link here.

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New to my blog??

If you’re a new visitor here, welcome!

Please check out my prior articles on Intuitive Eating to get you caught up.

  1. What is Intuitive Eating?
  2. Principle 1 of Intuitive Eating – Ditch the Diet Mentality
  3. Principle 2 of Intuitive Eating: Honor Your Hunger
  4. 5 Steps to Make Peace with Food: Principle 3 of Intuitive Eating
  5. Principle 4 of Intuitive Eating: Challenge the Food Police
  6. Intuitive Eating Principle 5: Learning To Feel Your Fullness
  7. How To Discover The Satisfaction Factor with Food: Principle 6 of Intuitive Eating