How to Say “No”

Your relationship with food may be sabotaged by your personal relationships.

Posted Oct 14, 2014

Practice saying "no."

While you’re learning to say “no” to second helpings, or “no” to certain foods, you may also have to learn to say “no” to certain people and situations that can sabotage your efforts to develop and maintain a healthier relationship with food. The most well-meaning people in our life are often the ones who prevent you from reaching your goals. They can also be the hardest people to say “no” to.

You have to be strong enough to say “No, thanks, Grandma, I don’t want any more lasagna,” even if you’re afraid she’ll take it personally. At times, you’ll have to say “No, sweetie, I’d rather eat at home tonight,” when your partner wants to go out to a restaurant. If you normally go out with friends on Friday night, you might have to decide to stay home alone. While you’re learning to eat normally, you have to say “no” to people and situations that trigger emotional eating behavior or overeating. You won’t always have to say “no” to everything, but while you are trying to change your eating habits and stay in control of what and how much you eat, you must be firm when it comes to destructive situations or you’ll never reach your goals. You know just how easy it is to fall back into old eating habits or fool yourself into thinking “just this once.”

When you’re low on self-confidence, it might be especially difficult to say “no” to people and situations that can throw you off the wagon. You might feel guilty saying “no” but sometimes you have no recourse. If you try to please someone else by doing what you don’t want to do you’ll only end up feeling resentful.

If an outright “no” is too difficult, there are other ways to say it: “I’m sorry, I can’t”; “Not right now”; “I can’t make it this time”; “I’d rather not”; “I don’t like that idea” or “No thanks, but maybe next time” are all softer variations of a flat-out “No.” You can also delay your response by saying “I have to think about that” or “Can I get back to you on that?” or “I’m not sure I can do it but I’ll let you know.” Smile when you say “no” to remind yourself you’re doing something positive. It might help to practice what you’re going to say before a situation arises. Sometimes all you need is to have the right answer at the ready.