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?