A few weeks ago I was at the airport enjoying some lunch in a café before my flight. Next to me was a lovely lady reading a magazine, also enjoying some lunch – a sandwich, coffee and a muffin combo.
While we were sitting down a gorgeous, glammed up girl was doing the rounds offering everyone a free complimentary cookie (one of the giant sized ones no less) – it was part of a promotion that was going on. Most people were, as you would expect, super-thrilled to be getting something for free and wolfed down the sweet, crumbly cookie in seconds.
When the cookie promo girl came to me, I politely said without really thinking too much, “Yum, they look great, but no thanks, I am all good.” She then asked the lady next to me who was already struggling to finish her lunch combo. The words that came out of this lovely lady’s mouth stopped me in my tracks, “Well, I can’t say no, can I?” as she reached for a cookie with a smile and proceeded to eat the whole thing, even though she really didn’t look to be enjoying it.
It struck me that so many of us eat or drink things purely because we actually don’t feel like we can say no to the person who is offering it to us – especially if it is your granny, mother-in-law or someone you don’t know that well.
If you think about it, over a week some of you will be in several situations (be it morning tea shouts, work lunches or social situations) where you will eat and drink something that, deep down, you don’t really want or need. I used to do this all the time – I was born a people pleaser, I hate conflict by nature and the worst thing in the world to me is offending someone. Heck, I used to eat and drink about a quarter of my food and a lot of booze to please other people or because I was too scared to say no.
Now though, I have learnt to eat on my terms and have found great ways to say “thanks, but no thanks” in many situations. If other people struggle with this, it really has nothing to do with you – it reflects more on their issues with themselves and their relationship with food than it does on you personally. Who are you really helping by eating and drinking things that you deep down don’t really want to?
If you are having treats, drinking alcohol or indulging in something rich and delicious – the last thing you want to feel at the end of it is guilt, that you ‘shouldn’t have eaten that’ or… oh no, I have failed! Over time, as you learn to eat for the right reasons (which is what I’m trying to teach you through these blogs, my book Lose Weight for Life and the other work I do in time) – if and when you do have treats, you will be enjoying them on your terms.
At Mission Nutrition my amazing team of dietitians and nutritionists help our clients with this kind of thing all the time, so many people we work with really want to cut through the confusion and learn to have a healthy relationship with food again.
Of course, there are still times when I will just suck it up and dig in – when my granny who I see every few years who, despite her arthritic fingers, has struggled to make a cake she knew was my favourite ever since I was five – you know what, I will eat it – and enjoy it, even if it is just for her. But nine times out of 10 now, it someone offers me a wine, a handful of chips or a cookie and deep down I know it won’t feel good after eating it, I have learnt to say –thanks, but no thanks.
Do you need to find a way to say no? Next time you come up against this situation (which might be in a few minutes or a day or two) think – deep down, do I really want to eat this? Or am I just too afraid to say no?
Try it – and let me know how you go. Share your comments below.
Until next time… happy healthier living.
Love, Claire x
Claire Turnbull, BSc (Hons) Dietetics UK, NZ-registered nutritionist. Managing director of Mission Nutrition, and Healthy Food Guide nutritionist.
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