“Nobody diets on Thanksgiving!” “I made it just for you!” “It’s tradition!” Ah, the Holiday Food Pusher, the person who loves you so much they insist you do something that is harmful.
It is only kind to warn whoever is hosting a holiday feast that you have dietary restrictions. You can even offer to bring one or more of the recipes that appear on this site. Some of you have families that will be supportive. Others… not so much. It is for you that this article is written.
It would be bad enough if giving in to the Food Pusher only messed up your blood sugar for the day. (Every time your blood sugar goes over 120 or so you damage your body.) It will be even worse if it triggers all your food addiction demons, leading to a season-long binge of candy, cookies, and eggnog. Over and over I have heard from people who were doing brilliantly on their low-carb plan, losing weight, feeling fabulous, full, satisfied, and happy, until they caved in to “It’s the holidays! Just this once.” Too often they write to me when they’re starting over, eight months and forty pounds later.
But how to say no?
First, realize that “No, thank you” is always a polite answer to any offer of food or drink. You are not being rude. Consider: If you had a dangerous food allergy, would you feel rude for turning down the food that would send you to the Emergency Room in anaphylactic shock? You would not. Well, more people die of metabolic syndrome and all its ugly sequelae than of food allergies. It just takes longer, that’s all.
Still, that’s not likely to slow down Mom, or Grandma, or your mother-in-law. (It’s generally women who engage in food nagging.) They may well refuse to hear “No, thank you,” and some version of this conversation will ensue:
“You have to have some of my sweet potato casserole! It’s your favorite!”
“No, thank you.”
“Oh, c’mon! It’s Thanksgiving! Nobody diets on Thanksgiving!”
“No, thank you.”
“But I made it just for you!”
“No, thank you.”
“I’ll just put a little on your plate. Maybe you’ll change your mind.”
*spooning it back into the serving bowl* “No, thank you.”
Tedious, isn’t it?
You could add “I can’t, I’m on a diet,” or “I can’t, it will skyrocket my blood sugar,” or the like, but I do not recommend it. Remember this acronym: Do not JADE: Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain. You do not have to justify, defend, or explain your choice to put your health first to anyone, not even Mom. Anyway, you’ll bore the other guests. As for arguing, any good salesman will tell you that this is where the sale begins – once the prospect tells you his objections, you start arguing them away. It’s a losing game. Again, you don’t owe it to anyone, and it will spoil the festive atmosphere.
Instead, try this: When offered a food you can’t or don’t want to eat, say “No, thank you,” and then immediately change the subject. Do it by throwing out a question. Like this:
“You have to have some of my sweet potato casserole! You loved it growing up!”
“No, thank you. Hey, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is at the multiplex. Anyone want to go tomorrow?”
“Oh, c’mon, it’s not Thanksgiving without my cornbread dressing!”
“No, thank you. Hey, has anyone seen cousin Jenny’s new baby? Do you have photos?”
“You have to have pumpkin pie!”
“No, thank you. Hey, I’ve heard that Isaac is stationed in Okinawa. Has anyone heard from him? Do you know when his next leave is?”
Do you see how this works? If the food pusher persists after you’ve changed the subject, it is she who will look a tad obsessed, not you. It’s a neat piece of social ju-jitsu. Depending on how pushy your family tends to be, I suggest you come up with a list of anywhere from a half-a-dozen to a dozen questions ahead of time. If they’re so insistent such that you need more than a dozen, may I suggest you take a pass, and dine with friends?
No, I am not joking. A couple of years back, a friend with serious metabolic issues was bemoaning that, come Thanksgiving Day, her mother would push and push and push her to eat things she knew she shouldn’t, and then insult her for being overweight. My response? “Come to my house. I’ll feed you stuff you can eat, and I won’t be mean to you.” There’s only so much a person should have to bear in the name of family.
Occasionally you run across a food-pusher who is not a family member. People have told me of co-workers who are insistent that the low-carber should eat the office Christmas cookies or pizza or whatever. For these rude people, again, do not JADE. Once “No, thank you” is ignored, I recommend a look that implies they have grown an extra head, and an incredulous, “You seem really invested in this,” or “I cannot imagine why this is so important to you.” Repeat as needed.
Let’s help America get over the notion that the true meaning of the holidays will be found in a mountain of junk food. Between lights, songs, favorite old movies, decorations, gifts, visits from family and old friends, there is so much more to this season. Enjoy it!