How-To: Halt Holiday Food Pushers in Their Tracks

Shhh…what’s the sound?  It’s the unmistakable “pop” of a Tupperware lid being cracked open in the office break room.  Then there’s the rustling of waxed paper and the crinkling of foil wrappers.  Next, the smell hits you.  Something sweet and buttery is wafting through the air.  A few notes of rich cocoa are mixed in as well, and wait, is that ground cloves?  You brace yourself with a forced smile.  You know who it is.  You know EXACTLY who it is.  Every year, like clockwork, they descend, with hints of flour in their hair and cheeks gleaming.  You’re not sure if it’s a twinkle in their eyes, or if it’s better described as a steely glint.  They are THE HOLIDAY FOOD PUSHERS.

They come without ribbons; they come without tags.  They come bearing packages, boxes and bags…and Tupperware containers full of fat- and sugar-laden, highly processed holiday sweets.  They seem to be bent on a mission to sabotage your health and fitness goals for the entire month of December.  What’s a busy professional to do?  You barely had time for the gym the rest of the year, so let’s face it, this month isn’t looking so good.  Keeping tabs on your eating choices was your one hope of still wearing pants for the last week of the month.

Never fear!  I shared my top tactical tips for halting holiday food pushers in their floury tracks on Facebook and my weekly Instagram video series. I’ll summarize it here for the literary types!

Politely decline

Let’s start small.  The first strategy is the simplest.  Simple is good!  That’s it, a simple “no, thank you” with a smile. No excuses, no reasons, no apologies.  Most of these holiday food pushers should back down with grace in the face of a firm but kind refusal. If they don’t, follow along for my next tip!

Offer a valid and truthful health objection

The key here is that you have to be telling the truth.  Whatever it is, it has to be honest.  Don’t say that your watching your sugar intake if you’re really not, or that you’re gluten-intolerant if you’re really not.  You don’t want the pusher to later see you scarfing bon-bons at the office holiday party after you’ve told them that you’re deathly allergic to sugar.

Be sure to point out how eating the item will make you feel poorly; no one wants for their food to make you feel ill!  The whole point is that they want others to feel good (presumably; if they have malicious ulterior motives, then there’s no need to worry about hurting their feelings by saying no and thwarting their dastardly intentions).  Be polite and appreciative of their efforts.  And if that fails…

Accept and then discreetly dispose

As an adult, you can be hip to social mores and simply accept the proffered sweet with a smile and a thank you. Then, you can discreetly dispose of the item, either by throwing it away (remember to compost where applicable!) or, better yet, gift it forward to a more willing recipient.

This way, it’s win-win-win. The giver feels good that you accepted their offering. You feel good that you stayed on track with your goals.  And the final recipient just got a free holiday sweet.

Accept and ENJOY!

Eat the damn sweet!  Yes, that’s right. You heard me. You are going to eat and ENJOY whatever it is.  Eat it slowly, mindfully and savour the experience. If at any point it doesn’t taste as good or you’re not enjoying it, then stop and dispose of it.

Really take the time to commit to the choice and to the experience.  Close your eyes and focus on the flavours. Notice any sounds, smells or textures.  This will lessen the sense of restriction and deprivation and keep you from going completely off the rails later.

Trust that your body and your metabolism can handle a moderate portion size of sweets every now and again (they can!). Let go of black and white, perfectionist thinking. Look for what better choices you can make later in the day to create an overall balanced intake.

Take ownership for what goes in your mouth

Yup, I’m finishing up with a little tough love for you today, buttercup. Let’s keep personal ownership for what we, as adults, put in our mouths. Don’t shift the blame or responsibility for what other people around you bring in. YOU have a choice. It’s YOUR body.

You might choose to eat a sweet or two. Cool. That was tip 4. It’s totally fine.  It’s your choice.  You equally have the choice to decline.  It’s only hard to resist those sweets because you tell yourself it’s hard to resist those sweets.

What’s the narrative you’ve crafted for yourself around your food, your eating and your body? You’d have the body of your dreams…if only it weren’t for other people? If only it weren’t for delicious foods? It’s time to change that story.

What you believe comes out in what you say, and what you say shapes what you do. What you do drives your results.  This is the basis for personal transformation.  Are you ready to believe in yourself and really transform? You know where to find me.

Have a fit (holi)day!


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