Practicing the Art of Saying, “No, Thanks”

“Eat,” your doting mother-in-law says. “You’re going to waste away if that’s all you have.”

“What?” your aunt Bev says. “You didn’t like my casserole? You’ve always loved my casserole. Come now, just one more little serving. Dessert? But it’s a special occasion. You can’t say no!”

Of course you can say no — but sometimes only at the risk of hurting someone’s feelings. Or so it may seem. But you don’t have to let well-meaning urgings to eat cause you to overeat. You can always say no, thanks. And by being diplomatic you won’t hurt any feelings in the process. Here’s how:

1. Be upfront. Casually mention to everyone in advance that you’re on a diet and watching portion sizes. Make it clear that you don’t want to offend anyone, but that it’s very important for you to keep an eye on how much you eat.

2. Compliment early — and often. If you’re oohing and aahing after the first bite, it won’t seem as if you didn’t appreciate the dish when you turn down seconds later.
Pace yourself. If you know Aunt Bev’s feelings will be hurt when you don’t sample her pecan pie, plan your meal accordingly. Help yourself to smaller portions of the main course so you have a little extra room — and some extra calories to spare — when dessert rolls around.

3. Say yes to a little. Sometimes it’s easier to say yes to a little than to say no and find yourself staring at an empty plate while everybody else enjoys dessert. But be sure that you, not your aunt Bev, control the serving size.

4. Use delaying tactics. Sometimes you can avoid offending people by saying, “Maybe later.” Or: “I’m so full right now I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. Let me wait a little while.” Once the plates are cleared away and the festivities move on to the next stage, no one will remember that you didn’t have dessert.

5. Take it home. Another strategy to avoid eating more than you want is simple flattery. When the offer for seconds comes along, rave about how great everything was &#151 and ask if you can take a serving home rather than have seconds now. Remember: Taking seconds home doesn’t mean you have to eat them. If you don’t intend to, make sure you dispose of them right away.

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