Just Say “No” to Food Pushers – How to Deal with Diet Saboteurs

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Written by: Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Kim Feinstein, RedMountain Weight Loss Behavioral Weight Loss Specialist

What is Assisted Sabotage?

Have you ever noticed that there is usually one person in every crowd who tries to destroy your diet? It almost seems as if every time you are on track, they are there right there offering you a doughnut, some chips, pizza, or even an extra serving of an unhealthy food they know you are avoiding? These people are known as “food pushers” and are attempting assisted sabotage.

Some examples of assisted sabotage:
· As you are losing weight, out of nowhere, a co-worker who knows you are avoiding sweets offers you a doughnut.
· A friend, who knows you are watching your weight, begs you to share a pizza or a slice of cake.
· While sitting on the couch watching television, your husband who is wanting you to lose weight, rips open a bag of chips in front of you and asks, “want some?”

What ever happened to getting support? Doesn’t it seem as if your friends, coworkers, and/or loved ones are trying to make you eat and stay overweight? You maybe asking “WHY?”

Reasons for Assisted Sabotage
There are several reasons why your “so-called” helpers are attempting to sabotage your progress. The most common reason I hear is they feel jealous and guilty. You are losing weight and getting in shape and they are not. Tempting you with beckoning foods to “fall off the wagon” means you are normal again and they can feel comfortable and guard the “status quo.”

Another reason may be because they miss the old you. Co-workers miss the baked goods you used to bring to work or the “happy hours” you used to previously attend. Or, your spouse or significant other may miss eating out with you or sharing desserts. When you are living a healthy lifestyle you change (for the better), therefore, your relationships may change and your helpers begin to miss the old you.

Moreover, sometimes the people in our lives associate food with love. As such, if you are no longer eating what loved ones have prepared, they may feel as if you do not love as much or they are not as important to you.

Less frequently, a reason for assisted sabotage may be the saboteur really doesn’t know what they are doing. Maybe they have never had a weight problem and they think it is ridiculous for you to be concerned about what you eat. Maybe your helpers just aren’t thinking and do not know how to give support?
Regardless of the reasons, you want people in your life to support and encourage you. Learn how to identify an assisted saboteur and begin to defend against diet saboteurs.

Signs of Assisted Sabotage

Learn how to identify when others are attempting to prevent you from your weight loss goals. Below are a few signs that can indicate assisted sabotage:

· Making remarks like:
o “You have to try this”
o “One bite won’t hurt.”
o “You look too skinny.”
o “Everyone deserves to spurge once in a while.”
o “It’s you birthday, you have to have some cake.”
o “There is one cookie left, do you want it?”
o “You are not as funny since you have lost weight!”
o “We are on vacation, have some!”
o “What, my lasagna is not good enough for you anymore?”
· Repeatedly giving you gifts of chocolate, candy, or other fat laden foods.
· Insisting on having “their foods” around to include chips, sweets, and high caloric foods.
· Encouraging you to go back to old eating patterns so you may experience “togetherness.”
· Becoming jealous when your new body shape gets attention

Defend Yourself Against Assisted Sabotage

Before you get angry and defensive, try to give saboteurs the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they truly don’t know what they are doing.

However, when it is obvious that someone is getting in the way of your success, use these techniques to prepare for the pushers!

· Just say NO!

For some, this may be the hardest thing to do. I want to let you know it is ok for you to just say “No, thank you!” You do not have to say anything else. In fact, you do not owe them an explanation. They may continue to pressure you, so continue to say, “no, thank you” repeatedly until they get the message.

If you typically feel guilty after saying no to someone, you most likely suffer from the “disease to please.” The “disease to please” may be making you overweight; So, I am giving you permission to throw out your guilt! You have the right to say no!

· Give an Explanation

If just saying, “No, thank you” is too difficult, try giving an honest explanation as to why you are choosing to avoid what they are offering. Some examples include:

o “Thank you for offering me__________. I would really like to eat that, but I’m following my meal plan and I am feeling great. Improving my health is important to me because want to be healthier not only for me but for my family, as well.”

o “No thank you. My doctor said I must lose weight.”

o “No, thank you. I have already eaten.”

o “Not right now. I will be eating shortly and I do not want to spoil my appetite.”

o “Not just yet, I am going to wait for a little while.”

· Take it and leave it

Another option is to take the food and say thank you… BUT, wrap it up and either give it away or throw it out!

I know the thought of wasting food is hard for many of you. Especially if you were taught that there were starving children in some far away country. Or, maybe some of you were forced to be members of the clean your plate club. Nevertheless, you do not have to follow these rules any longer. In fact, these rules may be the very reason you are overweight!

If these methods do not work, do your best to ignore the diet saboteur’s comments. Or, if possible, avoid these saboteurs until you feel more secure and confident in your ability to handle them.

“Whether you are suffering from self-sabotage or assisted sabotage, the end result is just the same…diet destruction, disappointment, regret, and unfulfilled expectations. Make this time different and overcome sabotage once and for all! I always say, don’t try harder, try different. Now is the time to stop making excuses and take personal responsibility for your weight loss. Stay in charge of your own behavior and become your biggest ally. You can do it and we are here to help you throughout your journey!” – Dr. Suzanne Bentz, D.O., Owner & Medical Director of RedMountain Weight Loss.


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