Holiday time or not, many of my patients tell me about the food pushers in their lives who make it hard to eat healthfully.
Who are the food pushers?
Food pushers are most often people you know who prod you to eat more or eat foods that you know are less healthy.
It may be your spouse who continues to bring sweets into the home that knowingly (or unknowingly) make it harder for you to stick to your healthy eating plan.
Or maybe it’s a co-worker who keeps offering you the work room donuts or bagels despite the fact that you’ve been bringing your own healthier snacks from home.
Or maybe it’s a relative who wants you to eat her favorite dish that you know is an old family tradition but is filled with energy dense ingredients that leaves you feeling overstuffed and wanting to do nothing but lie on the couch.
As I tell my patients, it can be very challenging when you’re trying hard to do the right thing for your health but people in your life end up creating obstacles that make things harder.
The good news is that there are things you can do to take better control of these situations.
Here are 3 tips to guide you:
1 – Be On Guard
Know the times when food pushers typically strike, like at a family gathering, so you can anticipate the offerings and be ready to respond.
Listen for the ways loved ones create emotional ties to foods, such as “I made this for you because I love you.”
Look out for shaming pressures to eat, such as “One bite won’t hurt you” or “Can’t you break your rules just this one time?”
2 – Assert Yourself
Because many of my patients don’t like confrontation and don’t like saying “no” to people, they end up being passive in these situations. Instead, I empower them to practice asserting themselves and taking control.
I encourage you to do the same.
You can use phrases like “This looks wonderful but I’m really full” or “Of course I will try it, let me have a taste.”
If your spouse continually brings food into the home that you don’t want, be sure to verbalize your needs. Remember that your spouse is not a mind reader. You can say “It is hard for me to resist the sweet treats you bring home. I would really like to keep our home healthy and have the sweets when we are out.”
The right mindset can also be helpful where you stay flexible and do things on your own terms, not because you’re being coaxed to do it. If you want to eat something, go ahead and enjoy it because you want to!
3 –Eat Regular Meals and Snacks so You Don’t Go Hungry
It is especially hard to resist a food pusher when you are hungry, stressed or tired.
The best way to build up your defenses and stay strong in these situations is to make sure you eat regular meals and snacks so you don’t go to the party hungry or end up at work without having healthy snacks with you.
I hope these tips will help nudge healthier eating and more enjoyment both during and after this holiday season.
Enjoy your health!
Robert Kushner, MD