How to Protect Yourself from a Food Pusher

How to protect yourself from a food pusher

We all know how hard it can be to stick to a healthy eating routine. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to lose weight, cut back on carbs or just eat healthier. Some days you feel disciplined but other days can be tough. Little things can set you off  – like being tired, going too long without eating,  consuming inadequate protein or not having the right foods around. But what one of the hardest things to resist is the Food Pusher. You know those people. The ones who won’t take no for an answer. They use all kind of techniques – some innocent, others downright evil. Learn how to identify them and protect yourself from a Food Pusher.
updated: 12/15/19

This post is meant to be a bit sarcastic (or humorous!). I don’t believe there are really “food pushers” … however there are people who push (or encourage) you to eat or drink a bit more than you’d like.

Part of my job as a nutritionist is to listen to what people eat and try to problem solve/motivate them as how to stay on track. Lately I’ve been hearing lots of Food Pushing stories and thought it was time to share my tactics on how to deal with these diet wreckers.

How to Protect Yourself from a Food Pusher | Martha McKittrick Nutrition
Categories of Food Pushers

It first helps to identify what kind of Pusher they are. This will help you come up with a plan on how to deal with them. Some are devious and others are harmless. No sense in treating them all the same.

  • Show love through food. These people (maybe your grandmother?) have good intentions. They honestly believe in showing love through food. You don’t want to insult them. Your best bet is to eat a small amount and show your gratitude OR say it looks so delicious and you’ll take a big doggy bag to take home and that you can’t wait to have it for dinner tomorrow night. You can decide what you want to do with the doggie bag!
  • Jealousy. Perhaps a friend or co-worker is jealous of your weight loss. They might announce to the room – “Sue, try this bread. Just one piece. Sue – here, put this on your plate, etc.” They will probably say it loud to call attention to you as they try to BREAK you. You have to remember that they have the problem here, not you. Take a deep breathe and don’t react. Whatever you do, don’t give them the satisfaction of breaking you. Feel inner pleasure with their jealousy. You are stronger than they are. Perhaps you can come up with a witty response as to why you don’t want the bread
  • food pusherThink the world revolves around food. These people are tough. They genuinely believe that (a lot of) food or booze needs to part of every get together. Going for a hike? They pack a massive picnic with bottles of wine. Going out for dinner? They have a predinner get together with lots of wine and rich “pre-dinner” snacks. They are usually foodies who love to share food/booze. It’s hard for them to imagine everyone doesn’t love (or want) to eat/drink as much as they do.
  • Partner in crime. They want to keep eating (or drinking) so feel compelled to drag you down with them. Somehow they rationalize that the calories don’t count as much if others are eating with them. These types can be relentless and will try numerous tactics. You need to bring your A game to deal with Partners in Crime. Hopefully one of them is not your spouse.
  • Praise seekers. These people usually like to bake or cook and don’t feel really complete until they have been complimented on how delicious their food is. Your best bet is to tell them it looks DELICIOUS but you just ate. Beg for a doggie bag. This next part sounds mean … but get rid of it after leaving their home. Give it to your doorman or toss it. Bottom line, give them a little praise and hopefully they’ll move on the next victim.

How to protect yourself from a Food Pusher

nother part of my job is problem solving. So I’ve gotten pretty good (I think!) at helping people come up with excuses on how to avoid eating in response to a Pusher. Try these suggestions:

  1. Most important is to think about what YOU really want. Do you really want that 2nd piece of lasagna? Or your co-workers cookies? If you REALLY want it, then have it. But if you don’t, and you feel you are being “pushed” into having it, then it’s time to come up with some tactics.
  2. Be strong. Plan in advance if you know you will be seeing the Pusher.
  3. resisting cakeUse your health as an excuse. Maybe you have issues or maybe you don’t but people are less likely to push if they think it will negatively affect your health … unless it’s an evil or clueless Pusher.
  4. Be trendy. Say you are avoiding gluten or dairy (even though you likely have no gluten or dairy issues). This will save you from bread, most desserts and baked goods. Most people will gladly leave you alone if you have a trendy excuse
  5.  Use the doctor excuse. Say your doctor has told you to limit sugar and processed carbs. Who wants to go against a doctor’s advice?
  6. Have a serious talk with the Pusher. For example, if your husband has sky high cholesterol and your mother in law insists on bringing over her cheesy lasagna every Sunday night (that your husband inhales), have a talk with her that this type of food, while delicious, isn’t good for his health. Suggest whole wheat pasta with her famous red sauce.
  7. If all else fails, you can be graphic. “I get severe GI issues when I eat wheat. Is your bathroom free?


Do YOU have a food pusher in your life? How do you deal with them? Let us know  if you need our help!



I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.

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