Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
26 Oct

Dear Mark: How to Politely Pass on Dessert

cakeIt’s a common question I get: how to graciously decline the proudly presented delicacy, the traditional or long-labored sweet, the celebratory dessert. Like it or not, desserts are woven into our cultural doings and gatherings. As one reader put it recently, “I’ve been trying to go quasi-primal for about 6 months and have had very good results. A challenging situation that I’ve experienced is declining dessert offers from friends who LOVE to bake. How do I politely decline a chef’s generosity without offending them?”

Anyone who’s been doing the Primal diet for a while now has probably found him/herself in this sticky situation. Maybe it’s dinner at the home of your spouse’s boss, lunch with your daughter’s future in-laws, a long-awaited weekend at an old friend’s house or a birthday celebration with your grandmother. Whatever the setting, the sensation is the same – that sinking, burdened feeling when the host sails in smiling, mile-high chocolate cream pie in hand. Your mind suddenly frantically catalogues the possibilities, planning how you’re going to dodge this one. Maybe you’d intended to tell them ahead of time and forgot or hoped you could avoid the issue altogether somehow. Either way now, you know there’s no escape. There’s no reasonably gracious way to grab your coat, and excusing yourself to the bathroom will only mean a truly generous (a.k.a. mammoth) piece waiting for you upon your return.

Maybe the dessert is an old favorite of yours, and you’re truly tempted but nonetheless resolute in sticking with your Primal routine. Perhaps you’ve been Primal long enough (and the dessert looks sweet/heavy enough) that you take one look and think to yourself how abominably sick you’ll feel later. Either way you’re in a mental tug-of-war between sticking by your own best interest and showing your appreciation for your well-intentioned host’s efforts. At stake, of course, is embarrassment, resentment and all manner of hurt feelings. The scenes play out in your head mercilessly. Your spouse is irritated that you can’t accept dessert in exchange for a smooth dinner with his/her boss. Your daughter is embarrassed that you turned down her future mother-in-law’s specialty. Your grandmother is heartbroken to learn you don’t enjoy her spice cake anymore. Suddenly, a simple request makes you feel like the most inconsiderate person alive.

Certain situations offer an easier out than others. How many of us silently cheer when we see a buffet setting? Even if it’s a relatively small group and a total dessert absence will be noticed, you can selectively forage and choose as small a serving as you want. Likewise, it’s generally easier to turn down dessert at a larger gathering. Although you might not fly totally under the radar, your host and other guests will be busy enough that your nix isn’t likely to take center stage. Finally, the better you know people (particularly if you aren’t related to them), the less fuss will likely result from your courteous refusal. (They probably already know about your Primal lifestyle anyway.) Smaller parties hosted by those lesser acquaintances or, potentially worse, job/family relations often are the really hot water situations.

One tactic to gracefully turn down the ubiquitous dessert is to plan ahead and let the host know about your dietary choice. In this age of condition-conscious and otherwise individualized menus, most hosts do ask. As a good will gesture, you could even offer to bring something more Primal-friendly (like fresh fruit) to accompany the main dessert. Don’t be offended, however, if your host seems reluctant or outright declines. Not only would the addition take away from his/her featured dish (some cooks being more sensitive to sharing the spotlight than others – we all know these people), it might make other guests feel self-conscious about not having contributed themselves. Nonetheless, you extended the effort and offered respectful notice of your situation.

But what strategies can you employ if you find yourself suddenly caught in the moment itself, facing down a triple layer torte? Some people universally follow the “honesty is the best policy” principle. In truth, it’s the most straightforward approach (and therefore least likely to get you enmeshed in future conflicts), but it isn’t necessarily the simplest route. Catching the host by surprise this way might make for an awkward moment at the table or even put others on the defensive for their own choices (don’t you hate that?). If you’re going to take the truthful route, I’d suggest keeping the explanation itself as brief as possible. (Of course, you may not have much choice in this regard if people start asking questions, which they generally do.) If you’re feeling cornered, try putting it in personal and deferential terms – that you’ve live by this diet because you simply feel better on it, that you do indeed miss certain things (whether it’s genuine truth or polite exaggeration) but that for you it’s been worthwhile. Conjuring relativism this way – with a nod to the superb things you “unfortunately” forgo – admittedly diminishes the valid logic of your Primal choice, but it can help settle the discussion. I’m not suggesting dissing your Primal commitment, but putting it in personal terms allows others to take it as individual choice (or idiosyncrasy, to many) rather than directed judgment.

Of course, there is also the little white lie we might entertain to save other people’s feelings and our own trouble later. I’m not advocating this approach, but we’re all human. A lot of us have probably feigned “fullness” at some point in our Primal endeavors to avoid the dessert pressure. (And, hey, you can always load up on the meat dish or salad to really make it happen!) A few readers have mentioned they claim food allergies, particularly gluten sensitivities, to duck the dessert or other carb dishes. On a more humorous/heinous note, I’ve known people who’ve said they took the cake with a smile but then clandestinely tossed it out when no one was looking. I suppose by the same token it could be hidden in a purse or stashed behind a plant. The host’s dog is usually happy to help, but then there’s the issue of potential allergies, diabetes, etc. (There’s one way to make a bad situation infinitely worse.) On a more subtle note, you have the classic dissection and relocation on the plate tactic or the calculated use of a napkin, which can then be thrown out (or cleaned out) later on. A truly strategic move would be to offer to clear the table. Anyone else have good stories they want to share?

Adopting the Primal Blueprint means you own and live by your health choices (whatever they happen to be in the moment). It means being comfortable with living your life your way. It means giving others, including your host, enough credit to respect you. It means not feeling resentment for eating something you don’t want to eat. Maybe you view the situation as a slippery slope. Especially if you’re with people you see on a regular basis, an exception now can become the assumed pattern for future get-togethers.

On the other hand, there comes a time when you might choose to just eat the damned thing to keep the peace. You want to spare your dear grandmother heartache. Your spouse is in line for a promotion and this dinner with the boss could conceivably make or break the deal. Sometimes our decisions favor practicality over principle, and no one here is judging that. To some extent, that’s what the 80/20 principle is all about.

Life happens, and there are legitimate reasons – both social circumstances and the occasional personal enjoyment – for choosing something outside the Primal picture.

The timing, of course, isn’t lost on me. I realize I’m writing this less than a week before Halloween and on the cusp of the holiday season. We’ll all soon find ourselves surrounded by an assembly of sweets big enough to send our insulin skyrocketing by the visual alone. All this at just about every social occasion from now through the end of the year…sigh.

It would be great if I could just say eat the dessert or turn it down, but social situations are inevitably more nuanced than that. Ultimately, the choice depends on the particular dessert in question (how exactly un-Primal it is), your relationship with the host, the nature of the occasion and your own personal circumstances (if you’re in the midst of a weight loss endeavor, for example). Whatever your decision, own it, enjoy it (the dessert or the discipline) and rest assured that a good Primal diet isn’t made or broken by any one portion.

Share your tips, jokes and good stories for dodging dessert. Thanks for the questions, and keep them coming!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I get this problem every time I get to visit my long distance girlfriend, as not only do I have her mother (and my future MIL) to deal with, but also her best friends mother, who I stay with when I am there. Both are relatively traditional Jewish mothers… and since losing 70lb, they both feel the need to fatten me up! I find taking a small amount, and suffering a bit the next day has always helped salve my conscience!

    Primal Charles wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • That yellow cake would kill me. I am allergic to yellow #5. Most people I know today use cake mixes. I cannot take chances.
      I have to ask how it was made. Most will say they made it from scratch but later I find they used a cake mix. Later meaning..in the emergency room getting an injection to stop the vomiting and left side numbness and tunnel vision. And the right side feeling like my head was hit by a sledge hammer.

      Hawk wrote on April 5th, 2011
      • A friend of mine was telling me that when she visited France and told her hosts that she’s allergic to certain nuts they would tell her that a dish only had a little or none and that it would be okay. But really, she’s deathly allergic.

        So does anyone have advice for turning down foods while living abroad? It seems that in some places the allergy excuse might not quite cut it.

        Cat Grok wrote on March 3rd, 2012
        • …get a doctor’s certificate…

          Jo-Anne wrote on April 16th, 2012
  2. this happens all the time at work! it’s become far too awkward for me to decline so i usually take a piece of cake/doughnut etc. and very openly place it in my lunch container so they see it. then i either throw it in the trash at home or if my husband wants it give it to him (all 150lbs of him at 6’1 lol). i have to oblige coworkers because i was asked “do you EVER eat?!” sometimes i IF a breakfast or lunch so i don’t want them getting suspicious or concerned about my “health” according to CW.

    misathemeb wrote on October 26th, 2009
  3. I usually take the dessert and say I’m not hungry now, so I’m saving it for later, or take the smallest piece, eat a little and praise the cook as much as I can.

    CFS wrote on October 26th, 2009
  4. It would have been a visual help if the posted picture for this blog post didn’t have me yearning for the recipe!!!

    mmmmmmm…..butter cream frosting

    Philip Mancini wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • Phillip: buttercream is my weakness!!! That and toast. Lol. Ironic thing is, I make a kickbutt buttercream and I LOVE to bake. A GOOD (ie not confectioners sugar added) buttercream, like IMBC, really isnt THAT bad for a treat once in a while. i just bake for others but have a teeny widdle piece and give the rest away. Mmmmm. :)

      Tara tootie wrote on October 26th, 2009
  5. This happened to me just a few weeks ago… the hushed whispers of “she made it JUST for YOU” and urgings of “just eat a little, it won’t kill you”. Someone actually was trying to be thoughtful and made me a flourless chocolate cake – but nobody told them it’d have to be “sugarless” too.

    I ended up pushing the cake around on my plate until enough people looked away that I could fling bits of cake over the patio wall. I’m sure some coyote enjoyed the dessert more than I would have…

    Parley wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • This is exactly what I wind up doing mostly. My MIL is a lovely baker and really gets her feelings hurt when I don’t have a piece.

      The holidays are coming up soon and I’m already getting “scared” since I’ve been struggling with this any way.

      Wouldn’t it be so much easier if someone came up with some sort of bullet-proof phrase that everyone would have no issues with?

      Deborah wrote on October 26th, 2009
      • I love the idea of a “bullet – proof phrase”…what is it ? The closest I can think of is the tried and true , “no thank-you ” , said firmly , with true conviction ,non-apologetically … simply , as if there just isn’t anymore to it than that….I think the “spirit” you say it in makes all the difference…

        or , how about, ” I don’t eat that pernicious stuff and you shouldn’t either “!!!

        Janice wrote on January 5th, 2012
  6. Take it and do the best you can. Although, I’ve only been doing the PB for 10 days, I did have a piece of my son’s birthday cake on Saturday. I felt horrible all night. My stomach giving me the old “wth” is this? But, I chalked it up to the 80/20 and lived to fight another day.

    turling wrote on October 26th, 2009
  7. I simply tell the person that I do not eat junk food.

    I hate to come across as a jerk, but if they get upset that I choose not to eat food that is unhealthy, that is their problem. Afterall, they are the one serving (and eating) the junk, not me.

    DaveR wrote on October 26th, 2009
  8. I get physically sick if I eat anything with wheat in it anymore (I’m convinced I’m allergic to gluten), and as a diabetic I have a built-in medical excuse to avoid desserts – “I’m sorry, but I’m a diabetic.” Now I can also claim my wheat allergy to breads and cakes.

    I strongly recommend claiming a wheat allergy if you’re not a diabetic. It’s not worth hurting myself to make other people happy.

    Griff wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • Some of us are lucky enough to have an actual gluten intolerance (celiac disease) and so an excuse for declining 95% of desserts like that. But if it’s actually gluten-free and I know it (know how it was made or where it was bought, etc.), then down the hatch it goes! Yum! It’s a rare enough occurrence.

      Pete H. wrote on October 26th, 2009
      • My mother has Celiac’s but is also allergic to corn, oats and brown rice, so she can’t even eat “gluten-free” products, so I bet you could pull that card too if you’re willing to lie a little about it. :P

        Vivian wrote on November 1st, 2009
    • Does the diabetic thing actually work for you? In my family it just means you get a much smaller piece. And then you get the people who make you a special dessert with rice flour or something…

      I’m going to start telling people that I’m dodging diabetes, as I am at high risk. Hopefully that will get the point across…

      Sara wrote on October 29th, 2009
    • Sadly, “I’m a diabetic” doesn’t work with my family because they’re all diabetics, too, and chow down on cake every day. (Which would explain why so many of them are limbless. guh! But somehow it’s the height of rudeness to tell your legless uncle that you are trying not to end up like him.)

      Sparrow Jones wrote on July 26th, 2011
      • I understand entirely. I get crap for being either skinny or too fit or something of the sort, and the whole time I want to add, “Would you like me to look like lard?”

        Obviously I’m not going to, but it is just interesting how they will toss stones rather than look at themselves first.

        Samir wrote on July 26th, 2011
  9. So well written! Miss Manners has an interesting take on declining food.

    EarthBeauty wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • Link?

      Quinqualt wrote on June 12th, 2010
      • I may have found the link for the Miss Manners advice, though it is old, it is still useful:

        http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1992-12-20/features/9204250599_1_christmas-cards-dessert-plate

        And then there is Helena Echlin’s (of Chow.com) response:

        http://www.chow.com/food-news/55606/refuse-dessert-politely/

        Personally, all of the advice is useful as I can see how other people react to both sides of the offer as well as the disinclination to partake.

        I do not care for specific ingredients of some foods, which makes declining either an “always” or a “conditional”. The problem with the conditional is that you express interest in the dish/dessert but have to check that it is actually edible. The advantage is that once you have expressed the interest, you have complimented the host/hostess and a polite refusal may be taken with more grace than otherwise. The only time this is difficult is when you aren’t allowed to view the dish before choosing, say, because they are all in the kitchen awaiting serving.

        But I am particularly fond of the idea to encourage the human-bonding experience without encouraging the food-bonding experience. I’ll need to try that.

        AwkwardLotharia wrote on February 8th, 2011
  10. If it’s once in a blue moon, I’d take a small bit and enjoy it. If it’s more frequent, I’d just decline, and make sure the person understands I would just prefer not to eat this type of stuff. If they refuse to accept that, that’s their problem, not mine. Let’s be honest here. If you repeatedly tell someone you don’t eat desserts and they keep on offering them to you, who is the one being rude?

    Bob wrote on October 26th, 2009
  11. Just explain, as directly and succinctly as possible, that you decline based on health reasons. No one is going to pressure you to eat something if it’s clear that it will compromise your health.

    * “That looks great but wheat gives me really bad stomach problems”

    Matt Perry wrote on October 26th, 2009
  12. There’s a reason why this is such a tricky subject. Sharing a mind-altering substance, like coffee, beer, tea or a sugary treat, is an important bonding ritual. I bet even Grok himself would be offended if you turned down the honeycomb he was offering you. Rather than lying, offer your host an opportunity to save face: “Wow that cake looks nice, but sweets don’t agree with me. May I have a cup of coffee instead?” That gives your host a chance to prepare and share “something special” with you.

    lschermann wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • I like your reply the best. It allows you to skip the dessert while still addressing the emotional aspect of the experience. Perfect!

      Ailu wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • A very thoughtful and classy response!

      Maria wrote on October 27th, 2009
    • Love this response! And it’s so true. It doesn’t have to be an awkward event if you acknowledge the intent of the food offering, which is to bond, and ask for something else.

      Julie wrote on April 15th, 2010
    • I do something similar, usually saying that my doctor told me I had to stay away from sugar and grains. If that doesn’t work, I sometimes add that since I haven’t eaten sugar and grains for so long, they cause me gastric distress and make me a bit gassy. That usually gets a laugh and I’m off the hook.

      Kathy from Maine wrote on January 3rd, 2011
    • Great solution . . . but I’m medically prohibited from caffeine so there really aren’t any “mind altering substances” I can bond with others over. I somehow think that asking for a glass of water instead isn’t going to make the host feel so special.

      Sparrow wrote on July 26th, 2011
    • lschermann, it’s a great response and sensitive to both parties. I’ll have to use it. Thanks

      Often at a celebration I take the offered desert and move to another busy but uncleared table have a chat and move on to another table leaving the desert there, untouched, as an offering to the carb deity…

      I have also taken the desert and wondered around chatting to people and then I’ll find a discrete table to put it on… surprisingly there is always one available. Be subtle.

      If I am having a wine [one only...I promise...or two...or] I tell the hostess that I really don’t like to mix my carbs…or I don’t love the taste of sugar after my wine…which is true…but I’ll have a bit of cheese, thanks.

      Or I get one desert and share with two others or all sitting at the table…I take a spoonful and pass it on to the next person and they do the same…of course this works only with close family and very close friends…

      On occasion when Great Aunt has very firmly pressed her best on me I get up for another cup of tea or coffee and push the cake away and let it sit there as a silent lesson to her and the others…and to me to not do it to others.

      Jo-Anne wrote on April 16th, 2012
  13. Do you all remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry spits the mutton into his napkin, then Elaine is wearing the coat and gets chased by a hungry dog?
    that is some seriously funny stuff. so, if you decide to put pieces of chocolate cake into your pocket, make sure you clean it before wandering into a public location, lest out of control sugar fiends start gnawing at your clothing.

    gwen wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • I was reminded of the exact same episode as I was reading the post. LOL! Also make sure, not to take table linen along with the cake :)

      maba wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • LOVE Seinfeld! I was actually reminded of “The Pie” episode, where Jerry’s date keeps shaking her head and saying “no” to his offers of pie. She doesn’t give a reason as to why not, which of course turns into a big hoopla as per all Seinfeld/Larry David scenes :)

      Maria wrote on October 27th, 2009
      • ohmygod, THAT is such a good episode too. i dare anybody on the forum to do that the next time they are offered a dessert, and report back the response. hahaha

        gwen wrote on October 27th, 2009
  14. I really enjoyed reading this one, Mark. Thanks.

    Can I just skip the holidays this year??

    JamieBelle wrote on October 26th, 2009
  15. For the most part I keep it simple and just say “no thank you” and that works fine, especially with family. But you can be creative and offer to SERVE too. When you’re passing out the goodies, people don’t notice when you don’t have any. (I feel like an enabler, but what are you gonna do?) For situations that require something with a bit more finesse, I’ve been known to take a small amount and explain that I can’t have a full piece but it looks too good not to have a *taste* and I’ll take one bite and gush. And very, very rarely, I might just partake if I feel it’s “worth it”. Interesing, though, it hasn’t been for quite some time now…

    Lisa wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • This is a good one! If you can position yourself to be passing out the coffee and dessert everyone else is usually too busy enjoying theirs to notice you haven’t had any. Come out of the kitchen with your coffee rubbing your stomach saying “Man! That was good!”

      Cherie wrote on October 27th, 2009
    • This is a great one! Everyone knows I have problems so I often don’t often have a problem. I get my guy to take a piece first then say I will share his. After the first bite, I proceed to tell the hostess how good it is! When I went to Denmark, my Aunt told everyone ahead to time I was allergic to wheat, potatoes & rice. A lie that worked very well indeed!

      Donna wrote on September 14th, 2010
  16. My boss used to buy me the gooiest chocolate cake he could find for my birthday. This, in spite of the fact that I’ve never been that big on cake. I’d usually eat one piece, then he’d press the rest of it on me as leftovers to take home. Well, I took it home and deposited it in the garbage before entering the house. Never felt the least bit guilty about it.

    Cynthia wrote on October 26th, 2009
  17. Yeah, I have been trying to my best at living primally, but my sister is now going to school to be a pastry chef! =P

    Andrew wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • I already went to school to become a pastry chef. Now I feel like I wasted my time…

      Sara wrote on October 29th, 2009
  18. I’ve never gotten any guff when I simply say, “I have food allergies.” No one has ever questioned me or gotten into a philosophical discussion with me with those 4 simple words — which they will do if I give pretty much any other reason. People do abide the “food allergy” boundary.

    Ginger wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • I, too, like the “I like it but it sure doesn’t like me” response. Most people have been completely cool with that.

      Melissa wrote on October 26th, 2009
  19. So far I’ve found that if I say “no thank you” to the parts of a meal that I don’t want to eat (starches), and don’t make a big deal about it, no one else does either. The “I like it, but it doesn’t like me” approach to sweets also works fine. And it’s true now. Even good ice cream gives me a stomach ache.

    Bourgogne wrote on October 26th, 2009
  20. Golly, I must live in a different world… I have not had any blow-back from refusing food of any type in years. I simply say something like, “no, thank you.” I have a backup, “I don’t eat anything with gluten, starch or sugar in it, and haven’t since 1999″ but I haven’t had to use that in ages. Could be that folks can tell that I really mean “no”, since I have been consistent.

    TXCHLInstructor wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • You hit the nail on the head : “Could it be that folks can tell that I really mean ‘no’, since I’ve been consistent?” If you are on-again/off-again , no matter what you say , it just doesn’t have the same impact…it’s not what you say , it’s who you really ARE….

      Janice wrote on January 19th, 2012
      • True…if you are consistent others soon get the message…walk your talk…others are NOT the problem.

        Jo-Anne wrote on April 16th, 2012
  21. Recently, lactose has started disagreeing with me which knocks out a good portion of sweets by itself. Also, after studying the PB carefully, I’m inclined to believe that people in general are at least slightly allergic to wheat. Because of that I’ll go with wheat allergy if lactose intolerant doesn’t work.

    John wrote on October 26th, 2009
  22. If it looks good or is important for some other reason, I’ll ask for a very small slice (since I’m on a diet and need to be careful), eat it, provide honest complements, and stop worrying about it.

    My body can handle small amounts of sugar without disruption, though even small amounts certainly have become stimulating, I know my numbers are good (even with a weekly cheat of my choosing, usually sushi) and choose not to worry about the little things.

    Ross wrote on October 26th, 2009
  23. … if I know them well, I’ll say… “what are you thinking??? Would you offer an alcoholic a beer?? lol (I’m a diabetic).

    If I don’t know them well, I make sure before I visit that they know that I can’t eat processed/high carb foods.

    Cheers. :)

    Steve

    Steve wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • I need to use that one. I’m an over-eater. Tell the people who shove food in my face that they’re sending me off the wagon. Haha.

      Sara wrote on October 29th, 2009
    • That is such a good point, Steve. very few people will offer a recovering alcoholic a drink. Heck, sometimes if there is such a person present, everyone else will refrain from drinking as well to show support or at very least, sensitivity (my husband is a recovering alcoholic of 12 years).

      But, people will try to force feed a diabetic, using phrases like, “Just a little bit won’t hurt you.” I think the reason for this may be due to the abuse of insulin.
      Example – My oldest sister is a raving diabetic, complete with blindness, heart disease, one kidney (which is beginning to fail her) and severe diabetic neuropathy. She will shoot herself up with a BIG dose of insulin before going into a buffet so that that she can overeat high carb, high sugar foods. I have witnessed other diabetics do this as well, so I know that this is not just my sister’s demon.

      Maybe when people see diabetics eating that way, they just don’t take the condition seriously?

      Barb wrote on November 9th, 2011
  24. I usually eat so much of the main course, that when I decline the after dinner dessert, people understand. I probably just ate half a pot roast so, when I say, “no I’m full, I really couldn’t”. The host beleives me.

    Also being primal for well over a year now, most people will say, “I’ve made dessert, ed probably won’t have any, but the rest of us can.” So then even if I was thinking about trying some, I’m forced to uphold my values.

    Ed G wrote on October 26th, 2009
  25. I plan to gorge on that which keeps my blood-glucose levels low and feign sickness before dessert! That would be priceless.

    wd wrote on October 26th, 2009
  26. I typically just say “no, thanks”. 95% of the time that’s sufficient. If they are truly persistent I just tell them I’m stuffed already, which is usually not a lie.

    Honestly, if given a choice between a sugary dessert or another steak, I’ll take the steak. I’ve always been that way even before going Primal. I think it stems from growing up in a house with a type 1 diabetic. We simply didn’t have sweets around.

    ToddBS wrote on October 26th, 2009
  27. I guess the best thing to do is to have a little fun with it without hurting anyone’s feelings but at what point does it become just downright rudeness for the dessert giver to force something on me that I clearly don’t want?

    I probably would have little patience for anyone who’s ego is so fragile that their feelings would be hurt because I wouldn’t eat their dessert. That’s just weird to take something like that personally.

    Nancy wrote on October 26th, 2009
  28. That picture is making me hungry…. O.O

    Raphael S. wrote on October 26th, 2009
  29. I tell them I am diabetic, which is sort of true. My blood sugar goes wild if I eat “man-made” carbs. It is completely controlled by eating only carbs from fresh or fresh-frozen fruits and the small amounts from fresh vegetables.

    I tell my host this before the meal is served, cutting down on a lot of the argument/whining when dessert is served.

    JAMES HOWELL wrote on October 26th, 2009
  30. “Wouldn’t it be so much easier if someone came up with some sort of bullet-proof phrase that everyone would have no issues with?”

    Several people already have: “No thank you”. That’s all I say at work when people offer me sweets, donuts and cake, and I haven’t found it awkward at all. I do thank them nicely for offering, because I sincerely appreciate their kindness, but I feel no need to go further than that. As for accepting food from insistent relatives: if you told them the whole truth, that you were eating what they pressed on you just to avoid social awkwardness, even though you knew it would make you feel ill, do you think they would still want you to eat it?

    Valda Redfern wrote on October 26th, 2009
  31. I’m with DaveR. No need for white lies. Anyone who’d be offended by declination of junk food has a fragile ego.

    Rahsaan wrote on October 26th, 2009
  32. If I feel I need to go beyond “no thank you”, I will add “I have insulin issues”. Simple and true … I don’t like raising my insulin!

    DG wrote on October 26th, 2009
  33. From what I’ve read about hunter-gatherer societies, food gifting is a natural human ritual. It’s a way to smooth out the inconsistencies in food supply that a family might occasionally encounter and a way for the more successful hunter-gatherers to show off their status. A food gift is just as natural a part of the primal lifestyle as anything else so I find it interesting to see this post on a site espousing primal living. Of course, those food gifts would’ve been more likely something like seal blubber than cake and ice cream.

    Personally, I usually just eat the dessert but that’s because I like dessert. At home, I rarely have any sort of sugary desserts around so the occasional piece of cheesecake at a dinner party won’t kill me. In the case where I don’t want dessert, I’ve never had a polite “no thank you” not work.

    Dave wrote on October 26th, 2009
    • Really, truly, this one makes the most sense. Are we (by this I mean me) getting too bogged down with perfection rather than progress?

      I read a quote here once that I have saved:

      [quote]Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.[/quote]

      Deborah wrote on October 27th, 2009
  34. You can say … “No thank you, I don’t eat shit”

    Roman wrote on October 26th, 2009
  35. I struggle with the look of frozen horror on women’s faces when they have dessert and I don’t. Me not eating the sweet often seems to be interpreted as a criticism of their size and lifestyle and brings immediate guilt to them. Whereas in reality, I couldn’t care less!

    Ana wrote on October 27th, 2009
  36. “I’m allergic to wheat” covers pretty much everything, I’ve found.

    Trish wrote on October 27th, 2009
  37. Pleading wheat intolerance works for most things and isn’t actually a lie, either.

    Of course, you could always say “That looks delicious but I really can’t eat another mouthful.” If the host looks put out, ask (politely) if you can take some home instead.

    Main problem I have isn’t saying no to other people, but saying no to myself. Something like the cake in the picture wouldn’t tempt me at all, but wave an apple crumble under my nose and all my resolve vanishes.

    Indiscreet wrote on October 27th, 2009
  38. I always just say that processed foods give me “stomach problems”/indigestion. That sounds uncomfortably like diarrhea to most people, so they don’t get into it with me.

    CG wrote on October 27th, 2009
    • Good one- I love it!

      Kelly A. wrote on November 5th, 2009
  39. Having read through all these ‘techniques’ to avoid eating dessert, I was overlooking the obvious answer:
    ‘I don’t eat wheat’ or ‘I don’t eat sweets’, not ‘I can’t’ or ‘It doesn’t agree with me’. Just simply, ‘I don’t’. If a vegetarian says, ‘I don’t eat meat’, and somebody gets offended by that, then I think most people agree that it is not the vegetarian’s problem. Same for people who choose to simply not eat wheat. No need to lie, no need to spit it in your napkin, no need to make some roundabout explanation as to how you would really love to but you are too full, etc…
    This is how the primal/paleo movement will get going, when people can simply say, ‘No thanks, I don’t eat grains’ and nobody looks at them like they are crazy.
    If asked, ‘Why don’t you eat sweets?’ then you can go ahead an explain, totally honestly. Just think of the vegetarians, who (usually) are not expected to explain themselves.

    gwen wrote on October 27th, 2009
  40. I usually go with gluten intolerance or the vague “blood sugar problems”. Neither are lies. There is a history of blood sugar problems in the maternal side of my family. I was hyperinsulemic before going primal and I also get horribly ill if I have anything with gluten in it. The “family history of blood sugar problems” works for my kiddies, too, when people want to pound them with sugar. I haven’t had much of a problem with those 2 explanations yet.

    The thing that I encounter more, though, having been known as a very good baker in the past, is that people expect me to bake something if they’re coming here. I get a lot guff for not wanting to bake (& clean up, which I dislike more) something I can’t eat. I mean, I’m nice but I’m not that nice! LOL!

    DebFM wrote on October 27th, 2009

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