Dealing with Food Pushers by Amy Dungan

Holidays bring a myriad of emotions. The joy of spending time with family and friends can be the highlight of the season. The flip side of this coin is that family gatherings tend to center around food, and the inevitable pressure to eat everything your Aunt Trudy made. After all, she made that sugary carb-loaded favorite just for you! Will it really hurt to have just one serving and save her fragile feelings?

CarbSmart Magazine November 2013 Issue
Updated version in the November 2013 issue of CarbSmart Magaine
That’s not something I can answer. Only you can make the decision of what goes in your mouth. The important thing is that your decision is made with the knowledge of the consequences. Despite good intentions, family members can be the biggest saboteurs in regards to our diet. Most of the time, they don’t mean to heap on the guilt. But at times those little looks and comments can feel like an anvil on your conscience. Your choices involve gagging Aunt Trudy, being cruel and telling her to shut her pie hole, eating the offending dish and deal with it later, or explaining how those sugars and starches affect your health. I’m a fan of the last option. I realize that eyes tend to glaze over when you start talking about blood sugar, insulin and carbohydrates. I see it often. They just don’t get it. But your health has to come first. Give them the simple version: When I eat that, I get sick. You aren’t lying. If you are anything like me, you feel awful after consuming a carb-loaded item. Stomach cramps, bloating, mood swings, cravings, reflux, IBS… I could go on and on. And none of these things are healthy, which means that food item makes you sick. It’s really as simple as that. I’ve even slipped in the phrase “it messes up my blood sugar” a few times. You’ll be amazed at how some people back down after hearing those words. If you are looking for other ways to combat the food pushers, here are some suggestions.

  • One way to build an offence is to bring your own food. If cherry pie is the offending food, let your family know that you are bringing the pie this year because of your specific dietary needs. If they’d like to bring one as well, that’s great, but you have to eat the one you brought with you.
  • Another option is to contact those cooking the meal(s) ahead of time and let them know that you have to adhere to a diet free of sugars, starches and grains. Then politely ask if they can accommodate. Again you can offer to bring something to the meal, which helps you and them, because that’s one less thing they have to cook. Or if Aunt Trudy is opposed to your help, you could request there be at least one side dish that is acceptable on your plan, as well as a main dish, and then offer ideas or recipes.
  • Some people prefer to eat before they arrive at the gathering so hunger is kept at bay and the temptation to give in to pressure is lessened. I’ve used this strategy myself and it works well. When a well-meaning relative comments on how little you’ve eaten, it’s easy to say something like “I’m already full. What I did eat was so delicious!” Then go suck up to the cook for few minutes about the great *insert low-carb item* you were able to eat. Odds are if you rave about the dish, it will make an appearance next time.

If you’re less than thrilled about standing up to the food pushers, I suppose you could always use the easy option: Pretend you are eating it and slip it to the dog under the table. Honestly though, I hope you like the dog enough to spare them from the awful carb-loaded junk as well. It’s no better for them than is for us.

Over all you should find one of these strategies will get you through the odd glances, occasional remarks, and overall guilt trips that plague us during the holidays. These work any other time of the year as well. Just always keep in mind, no matter the situation, that this is your health. This is your decision. This is about you, not them. Do what is best for you and let everyone live around your decision. You never know when someone else might just follow your lead.

© 2010 by Amy Dungan. Article and photograph used by kind permission of the author. Send Amy your comments to Amy Dungan.

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