It’s Okay to Say No

Something I found difficult in the beginning of my food and weight loss journey was learning how to say NO.

I was definitely raised in a “Clean Your Plate” home and would definitely have food guilt for wasting food, or throwing food away. I also felt guilty saying no to food pushers and Weight Loss Sabatouers. The food pushers are hard to resist. “Just one bite, come one, it won’t kill you, try my brownies!” etc etc. People get so uncomfortable with the words “No thanks, I’m not eating that.”

It was hard at work specifically because there’s that weird dynamic of not wanting to be rude, or alienate someone, or appear weird–especially if everyone else is partaking. Or maybe people feel like YOU are judging THEM for eating the treats you are abstaining from. I can’t tell you how many times a coworker tried to get me to eat some kind of sweet treat when I first started my job. I was fairly new at my job and people didn’t know the “before” me and how hard I had worked to lose the weight. Eventually word got out and people stopped pushing food on me.

While the coworkers may have stopped trying to convince me to eat treats, I was still battling the desire to EAT the treats. They were all over the place. The Candy Room at work (N is for Nemesis). The donuts brought in by a coworker on a Friday. The leftover Halloween candy that people bring to work to get out of their house. The bagels (OH! So hard to resist!) and cream cheese. The coworker that loves baking and brings in amazing creations on Monday morning. SO HARD!

I told myself it was okay to say no. Even if I’m not saying it out loud and just telling myself no, it’s okay. Walk past the spread of bagels and cookies at the front desk and just make your photocopies and go back to your desk without giving in.

Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows
with the ability to say no to oneself.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

Each time I said no, it got easier. I usually don’t feel like I’m missing out on something when I skip the treats now. Sure, I have my moments, but most of the time I can walk right by the donuts and not even look. (Check out this old post: A is for Abstinence.)


What if you’re not quite there yet? It’s still hard to say “no”? Try some of these tips:

1. Tell the food pusher that you’d try the treat later. Deferring them is much easier than actually saying no (especially if they don’t take no for an answer) and most of the time they will forget about it!

2. Change the subject. A lot like the first recommendation. Distract the food pusher!

3. Feign food allergy. Gluten-free is a good excuse! Most of the time the foods people are offering aren’t allergen-free. Whether or not you are gluten-free, use the excuse. “I’m not eating gluten right now.” ‘Nuff said. Where does someone go from there? Nowhere, end of conversation.

No junk food

Another tip I have found: it’s MUCH easier to say no to treats when you’re prepared and have a healthier alternative. I always pack snacks for work (usually fruits or veggies) and I’m so used to eating those as snacks that I don’t even think about it. Knowing you already have a snack can make it a simple decision.

Can you say no?


Food Enablers

I’ve been a fan of the Howard Stern Show for like 15 years. What people may be surprised about is that Howard is a health food fanatic and also a runner. He cares about his body and keeping fit. Robin is famous for her wacky fad diets (the maple syrup/lemon juice concoction and then the green drink fads). Well, there are two people on the show that do not care about their health–in fact, they LOVE fast food. Love is a weak word, I’d say more obsessed with it.

John Hein and Jason Kaplan are the most vocal about their love for fast food. In fact, they host a show on Sirius entirely about Fast Food AND they eat their favorites on air while they debate what is better. While it’s comical, it’s also a bit disturbing.

Recently Howard teased these guys because they sit in the back office while he’s on the air and have lengthy, involved debates about what fast food is better and where they should all go to lunch that day. These conversations can go on all morning long in preparation for the lunch hour. Then these guys go out to fast food together. Jason discussed at length about everything he puts mayo on.

Howard commented that Jason is “bigger than ever” and I believe that John is diabetic. Yet these things don’t deter them from eating fast food every single day (sometimes multiple times a day). What struck me as the most obvious is that John and Jason were totally feeding off each other’s food addictions. They discussed where they’d be eating and they would go together.

Food enablers are the friends or family that we share bad habits with. We ALL have friends who are the enablers.  These are the people that share our bad habits and feel content to indulge in the bad habits with us because it’s comfortable. We don’t judge each other, it’s safe and easy.

I’ve had food enablers in my life. I had one friend in my mid-twenties that I went clubbing with. While she didn’t really have a weight problem, she loved fast food. After dancing and clubbing Friday and Saturday nights we’d stumble to the nearest Wendy’s or Taco Bell at 2 am (or a Portland favorite: The Hotcake House) and eat a bunch of junk food.

Two of my closest friends have also been “enablers” but we’ve managed the work through that during my weight loss journey and our friendship remained intake despite my change in habits.


When Rachel and I were in high school I remember asking her “Are you hungry?” and her response was “Always.” Or I’d say, “Can you eat?” and she’d say “Definitely.” And we’d happily head over to Beth’s Cafe or Denny’s and squat for hours eating and talking. I still smile from the happy memories of those days. Were these bad habits? Sure. But Rachel was also one of my biggest supporters when I decided to lose 100 pounds and she knew that encouraging me to eat healthy and change my habits was how I’d be successful. She was a true friend that wanted me to be healthy. Our friendship survived my transformation as a result.

My other closest friend, Robyn, wasn’t really a food enabler but she struggled with her weight just like I did. We were both at our heaviest at the same time. While we didn’t encourage each other to eat badly, we both struggled at the same time. It was like having a partner in crime to complain to about weight issues. What I love most about how our relationship changed was that we both lost the weight and kept it off. Not only that, our relationship became about fitness. Whenever we hang out these days it’s usually a gym session together, or a fitness class. I love it and so does Robyn! We both get our workouts in and we can catch up and spend time together. It’s fun to have someone who encourages you to do “a few more squats” or add some weight to the machine. Healthy competition works.

Food Enablers aren’t necessarily evil people. They aren’t always setting us up to fail. Sometimes it’s just the dynamic of the relationship. We all have those friends that fit a certain niche. The friends that we usually go to movies with, the friends we workout with, the friends that like cooking and will happily bring freshly baked cookies to your house, the friends who like to party.

The hard part with Food Enablers is changing the dynamic of the relationship without losing the relationship. Not all of the friendships will remain intact but I think it’s important for health to be the priority.

QUESTION: Do you or have you had food enablers in your life?