Article by Susan Arruda
Be wise and don’t regret the season!
Learn to say NO politely, of course! It’s actually quite liberating and empowering once you get past the initial discomfort zone and you also get better with practice. Get comfortable with declining food or not joining in with rounds of drinks (or bring a bottle of your own Perrier), and/or making the decision not to attend the invite for yet another party.
If you’re surrounded by a family whose love language is demonstrated through food, get ready for it and mentally prepare yourself ahead of time. Play out scenarios in your head. European families (I have personal experience here) are especially guilty of this. Recognize it for what it is and learn to deal with it tactfully, respectfully, and without frustration and dread. Remember they mean well and are just set in their ways and will not understand that you’re trying to make changes for the better. You will need to be firm and stand your ground. You don’t want to offend, so be gracious and polite. – “Thank you, but I’m going to have to say no to that.”
Prepare a series of scripts of what you can, say ahead of time: “I want to pace myself, I cannot eat that, I think I’ve developed an allergy to that, I got a really bad stomach ache the last time I ate that, I’m trying to watch what I eat more carefully, my stomach feels unsettled,” or whatever suits your individual situation and comfort level.
One approach that I’ve tried that seems to work surprisingly well with aggressive food pushers is, “I would love to have it, but just not right now. I’m so full! Would it be possible to set it aside and take it to go?” Reassure them that yes, you would love to have it; this is key for not offending. You can compromise and have half, perhaps and practice Marco Girgenti’s motto: “Halve it and have it.” Make peace with the fact that they don’t understand and may not be supportive of your decision or the changes you’re making/made in your food and lifestyle choices.
Develop resolve, don’t cave in, and realize that you cannot control what others do, but rather, you can only manage your own actions and reactions. Be merry and enjoy the company as well as all the great food, in moderation and free from regret later on.