Dear Mark: How to Politely Pass on Dessert

It’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!

TAGS:  dear mark

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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136 thoughts on “Dear Mark: How to Politely Pass on Dessert”

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  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!

    1. 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 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.

      1. 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.

  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.

  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.

  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

    1. 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. 🙂

  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…

    1. 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?

      1. 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 “!!!

        1. My mother used to smile very graciously while gently saying, “No, I don’t think I *will* ” and sounded so positive and charming as she said it, that it almost didn’t sound like a refusal! So that’s what I’ve found useful.

  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.

  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.

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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. 😛

    2. 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…

    3. 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.)

      1. 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.

      1. I may have found the link for the Miss Manners advice, though it is old, it is still useful:

        And then there is Helena Echlin’s (of response:

        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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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”

  11. 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.

    1. I like your reply the best. It allows you to skip the dessert while still addressing the emotional aspect of the experience. Perfect!

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

    2. 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 🙂

      1. 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

  13. I really enjoyed reading this one, Mark. Thanks.

    Can I just skip the holidays this year??

  14. 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…

    1. 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!”

    2. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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

    1. I already went to school to become a pastry chef. Now I feel like I wasted my time…

  17. 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.

    1. I, too, like the “I like it but it sure doesn’t like me” response. Most people have been completely cool with that.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. 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….

      1. True…if you are consistent others soon get the message…walk your talk…others are NOT the problem.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. … 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. 🙂


    1. 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.

    2. 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?

  23. 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.

  24. I plan to gorge on that which keeps my blood-glucose levels low and feign sickness before dessert! That would be priceless.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. “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?

  29. I’m with DaveR. No need for white lies. Anyone who’d be offended by declination of junk food has a fragile ego.

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

    1. 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]

  32. 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!

  33. “I’m allergic to wheat” covers pretty much everything, I’ve found.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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!

  38. Such a shame that the Human Race is so intolerant, so judgmental and so non-accepting that this is even an issue. So many here feel it necessary to take a piece, eat a small portion or even a portion to save embarrassment, to their hosts, to themselves. What a sad statement about our world.

    But I say this with reservations. I love cooking and most enjoy my food. Doesn’t matter what I’ve cooked, a refusal to partake concerns me, irrespective of the guest’s reason. I have to remember not to take things personally. Everyone’s entitled to their own food choices. I choose not to be judgmental of others and this has to include their choice to eat carbohydrates. Otherwise, I’m no different than the typical mother-in-law or grandmother as described above.

    I believe in the freedom of others in their beliefs and try to be tolerant. I like to share the science of a healthy diet, but I know it’s difficult for others to hear. Sugar makes triglyceride and cholesterol levels increase and HDL levels decrease. CW is wrong. So what? Hopefully, one day, as in Sweden, evidence-based diet will rule. Until then, my hope for the world, is that we all become accepting, non-judgmental, and tolerant of others and their personal choices …. as long as those choices (other than food) are peaceful and equitable of course ….

  39. “You can say … “No thank you, I don’t eat shit””

    Are you serious?
    This has to be the rudest comment you can probably make to someone who’s offering carbs or sweets to you. It’s very judgmental too.

    Alright, I’m from Midwest and I can never be rude or make someone feel uncomfortable for making certain dietary choices when I know they are generally so nice to me. I remember a while back a co-worker of mine baked me a Birthday Cake and she never bakes. She did it because I meant THAT much to her. Back then I wasn’t eating primal so I had a piece and I was really touched by her gesture. Now, would I ever say to her “I don’t eat shit” if she ever decided to bake me another cake for Birthday? Not in a million years. I’d rather be sick for the next 2 days.
    Some people think someone’s ego is too big if they get upset when you decline something they made, but when that someone is sweating by the over for 4 hours making something from the heart specifically for you, well, you can kind of see why they would get upset.
    I think the best excuse is to tell the host you’re too full but don’t want to pass up on desert either so you’d love to take a piece home for later.

    1. A woman from my church made me a gluten free foccacia because I told her the week before that I am allergic to wheat and gluten. I had refused her foccacia. (sp) She researched for a whole week, gluten free recipes. She makes marvelous breads and has never bought a loaf. She explained to me the science of what makes bread raise and how she substituted egg white as a protein to help make the long protein strands that substitute for the gluten protein in the wheat. AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Brown rice and tapioca flour. I took it home. I cut a piece and nuked it. I ate a fourth of it (bout 2 inch square) and my throat got tight. I would never in a million years have refused her love in a pan. But now, I wish I would have fessed up and told her from the beginning that I am gluten intolerant and eat a paleo diet for health reasons.

  40. I have this problem at church mostly. There is always some “occasion for celebration” and that means sugar overload. I’ve lost a lot of weight in the past few months and I’ve been passing up the cake and Sherbet/7up punch we always have too. A lot of the older adults and seniors seem to think they know better & can force me to eat (I’m 24), when they themselves are diabetic. When I decline they just call me anorexic.

    I usually try to keep myself busy helping to clean up or serve. I feel like a hypocrite serving punch that everyone is seriously addicted to. I found out one woman even was sent to the hospital w/ a blood sugar of 900 after drinking cups of it. Even more reason for me to stay away. both my parents are diabetic, I’m African; I know how high the risks are from me so I don’t compromise on this issue at all.

    1. Interesting that you’ve made the connection between the sugar addicts and what is offered at church. I always turn down the local cancer fundraiser: a rootbeer float!!! Yikes, cancer loves sugars, what are these people thinking?

  41. Careful with the gluten intolerance. I have celiac disease so this way of eating so good for me – well meaning friends buy me gluten free stuff, or even bake from GF mixes and these are WORSE than the whole weat stuff. Hard to say no when they buy it ‘just for you’

    Also-I completely disagree that

    “So many here feel it necessary to take a piece, eat a small portion or even a portion to save embarrassment, to their hosts, to themselves. What a sad statement about our world.”

    If we did not care about other peoples feelings—now THAT would be sad.

    1. I ordered a gluten free meal on the plane recently. It was basically the same as the other meals, but with gluten free bread. :/
      I was hoping for something a bit less, well, carby.

  42. I don’t usually have a problem because I am so fat. I just say no thanks and they look confused for a nanosecond and then say (to themselves) Oooh (I get it she is trying to lose weight).

    However every now and then someone will persist, I say no thanks and they say but its Krispy Kreme and I take one and throw it away after they leave. I don’t have the energy to deal with people who think Krispy Kreme’s soggy doughnuts is some kind of irresistable treat.

  43. I usually give it to the dog, or if its an ice cream cake, i let it sit for 5 min, and SPREAD it ALLL over the plate so it looks like i ate it! Or i can even spread the cake or pie with my fork so it looks like i took some bites. OR you can play with the dessert with your fork and put your napkin over your plate!!! hahahaha

  44. If the host is very insistent and my fiance happens to be there, I’ll say “oh I’m so stuffed, I’ll just try a bite of his…”. At large family galas, there is always fruit in addition to dessert, so I some of the former. For any and all occasions, invoking the “sugar gives me stomach problems” excuse is, in my opinion, fail-proof.

  45. OKAY this is easy..

    You Americans far far too polite !

    You say in yr best Churchillian voice ( you can also substitute a Yorkshire voice if you can pull it off..nowt quite as scary as a thick Tyke accent)
    “Sir/Madam i put it to you that eating that monstrosity will cause chaos within the endocrine system that is ..(substitute yr name here !) and shame on you you thoughtless OIK for not being more considerate”
    Not only will this curtail the dessert eating it’ll likely end any dessert eating as you’ll never be invited to ANYONEs hoose again !

  46. Having gluten issues, desserts are my biggest downfall. I have openly told people at work about these issues and they are understanding when I turn down treats that have been brought it. I have been the one making gluten free, sugar free, caesen free, dairy free desserts and bringing it to them (they have become my testers) and they love the stuff I come up with. Some would rather have what I bring then other stuff. And those Betty Crocker GF cake mixes . . . ugh! Stay away from those. First ingredient is sugar.

    (Thanks Mark for all that you do with this site).

  47. Politely, but forcefully, decline. I do it all the time. They may not like it but they’ll eventually catch on.

    If they persist then explain thats why they are borderline diabetic, have joint problems, high blood pressure and other inflammatory conditions 🙂

  48. One of the perks of actively eating healthy for 2-3 few years is that no one in my family even asks anymore.

    And they gave up trying to make something to suit my preferences when I abruptly changed from a low-fat (but successful) plan to a paleo one.

  49. Once I was spreading around birthday cake from an office party when I actually dropped it on the floor. I felt justified by throwing it away in front of everyone at that point. You can’t eat cake that’s been on the floor!

    There are a lot of parties at our office, but I usually take one bite and then don’t eat the rest – if I take any. No one has said anything to me because I stay around and enjoy everyone’s company.

    I don’t like feeling like I need a nap once the sugar wears off. That also makes my work performance go down.

    1. Dropping it sounds like a great idea…but it would get old and earn me the name “Klutz” Haha

  50. I used to play this game a lot when I was vegan. Keeping it as simple as possible really is the best route, in my opinion. As another commenter noted, the less of an issue you make it the less of an issue it will be. If you simply say “No thank you” 90% of the time this works fine. Just be polite and gracious, but firm.

    If pressed, saying something about “avoiding sugar these days” won’t be looked askance at, especially now that HFCS is the nutritional Big Bad du jour. No one thinks sugar is healthy (unlike grains), so at worst you’ll just be seen as a health nut–which might not be inaccurate!

    I did find that in many situations, people would press me about veganism while everyone was chowing down on something very un-vegan. It’s not a great idea to get into details at that point–people will be more likely to get defensive and combative if the food at issue (whether it’s meat or cake) is halfway to their mouth. If someone really, really wants to discuss it, just defer to another time away from the dining table, and then give them the works 🙂

    1. “pressed, saying something about “avoiding sugar these days” won’t be looked askance at, especially now that HFCS is the nutritional Big Bad du jour. No one thinks sugar is healthy (unlike grains), so at worst you’ll just be seen as a health nut–which might not be inaccurate!”

      Coming to this thread tears later, but SO struck by all the problems of refusing anything, not just desserts. I tried telling two friends of mine that I was off gluten and carbs as I didn’t want to eat sugar. They didn’t ask me any questions apart from “are you ill?”. Then they forgot and invited me for a meal. When I refused bread and pastry, I got an email from the husband (who is the cook) saying I had issues with self-denying strategies and was too influenced by “flaky American websites”. This upset me far more than my refusal of his starches upset him! So, sadly, there are people who won’t take you seriously if you just say no. They say they don’t want to eat with me again, as it made them feel like pigs ti see me picking at my food. Ho hum. It’s not as though they even asked any serious questions – though I guess they wouldn’t have listened to the answers anyway.

  51. I was once offered biscuits about 6 times at a job interview, first by the receptionist who lead me into the interview room, then by the HR rep who came in to give me a test, then by the partner who came in to interview me, then by a 2nd HR person who came in to collect my test. They were on the table near me within arms reach, if I wanted one I would have surely helped myself, but I stuck to the ‘No thank you’ every time. Didn’t get the job in the end, wonder if that had anything to do with it (at this point I was down to the last 3-4 applicants).

  52. I’ve been eating this way for so long now that I’m not even offered anything sweet. When the cake is divided up I’m left out of the equation with out even the question. All the more for us they say. What keeps me on the straight and narrow is the memory of a dinner party years ago where I finally succumbed to the relentless pressure and reluctantly accepted a piece of cheesecake and suffered the most amazing stomach ache and gas. No one will forget that night. 😉


  53. I say something like, “Oooh, that looks amazing, delicious, yum, but I’m so sorry, I don’t eat sugar.” (with look of huge regret on my face). This seems to go over fine. My friends have got to know this about me and will often provide fruit as well.

  54. This situation came up for me at a friend’s birthday party. They brought out the cake and offered some to me, knowing that I was trying to stay away from such. I smiled and said, no thank you. I love you, but I’m not getting sick for you.

  55. I’ve had good luck with “I can’t have gluten, sorry” and/or “I can’t have sugar.” It’s not a lie. Both things found in almost all desserts will hurt me. My extended family and friends are usually good about not offering me dessert, but I get the most trouble from semi-strangers (co-workers and the like). “C’mon. What will it hurt?”, “It’s just a piece of cake/cookie/pie.”, “You can break your diet for one dessert.” and so on.

    I firmly insist. They call me a weirdo or what have you. That’s okay with me, I’d rather be known as the weirdo WITHOUT DIABETES.

  56. People truly do become offended when you kindly decline any form of dessert. However, if I suggest sushi for lunch I’m expected to understand the the disgusted faces and remarks about my choice to eat raw fish over the conventionally healthy Subway. I have also quickly learned ways to explain my PB diet, I started by bashing grains but people lash out trying to justify their healthy choice of wheat over white and the 6-11 servings mandated by the food pyramid. I now simply say, I eat this way because certain foods make me feel ill.

  57. I don’t see the big point in 1. Indulging once in a while in something bad. 2.simply saying you don’t want to eat it.

    I can easily say no, and if they ask why I tell them.

    Is it much bigger of a thing in America?

    1. My thoughts exactly. I totally fail to understand this “cheat” mentality, who are you cheating? Only your self.. Don’t know about America, I’m Australian and I don’t have any trouble telling it like it is.

    2. I don’t know if it’s an American thing. My Italian mother-in-law used to be the worst person to be around when it comes to eating dessert. For years, she would ask several times, then regardless of how many times I said no thank you, she would serve me the dessert anyway. Once, I excused myself from the table to sit on the couch and she put the dessert on my lap.

      For years, I gave in and ate the dessert just to please her, but after gaining quite a few pounds (who knew that a sweet treat just 2x a week could mean an extra 30 lbs within a few years?), I ended up having to resort to throwing the dessert in the garbage right in front of her one time when she wouldn’t let up. She was super pissed, but my message finally got through her thick skull.

      1. Just tell the person firmly who is offering you dessert that you don’t want any, it’s not rocket science.
        If extreme measures(like Patsys’)are needed then so be it.

        My mum bakes alot and I’ll partake in maybe one(or two)small cakes at the time.
        I don’t obsess over what it might do to my body because I eat so healthily(if that’s a word)the rest of the time that it doesn’t matter, plus I’m working out consistantly(I do Parkour)so I have nothing to worry about 🙂

  58. My birthday falls a week after December 25 and two days after New Years. I work in a place where supervisors and staff do the cakes, ice creams and or sometimes group lunches. It’s a small situation (8-12 people at most). I left my sup. a voice mail a week before saying that if they want to do something for my birthday, fruits would be fine. Never got a response and nothing happened. More recently, they did a combined celebration of 2 birthdays. I attended but let my sup know that I wasn’t going to have any pizza (the offerings were pizza, soda, spicy chicken–which I don’t eat). Almost everyone kept asking and asking. I still said no. One asked me if I were on a diet, I said no. Most of them have hypertension, high cholestorol, some are obese (of this group). There’s no easy way–no matter how far in advanced you plan, someone is still going to put you under the radar and throw innuendos to make you feel like the bad guy.

    They don’t get the message because if they did, they wouldn’t keep asking. I think that they’re going to see if you’ll slip up one time. 🙂 Thanks for writing this!

  59. I am a talented baker and usually all treats for holidays and occasions are made by me. It works well because everyone assumes since you’re making it you must be eating it. On the occasions when someone else is preparing I just take a little bit and mash it around on my plate for awhile so it looks like I’ve been eating it while exclaiming “Mmmmm”.

  60. Last night I had dinner at Hogs Breath and when the waitress asked whether I wanted curly fries or baked potato and I said “nothing, just the meat please” she didn’t even blink but asked if I’d like a side disk of bacon with my steak. Very thoughtful.

  61. I’ve said, “I have some blood sugar issues!” No one needs to hear more. Ha! And its gotta be true…….!
    Who wouldn’t if they ate that cake!!!!!
    Anyone can use this line and not be lying.

  62. I usually ask for a very small piece, and feel free to pick at it or leave parts that I don’t like or aren’t worth it for me (like Crisco based frosting- yuk!). For me, just asking for a small piece arouses enough talk. I’ve always been the guy who’s eaten anything in a five foot radius.
    I completely agree that the “cheating” mentality is really stupid (and I am an American btw). It was pretty much invented with this whole idea of obesity being caused by gluttony and sloth, equating it with sin, then going ooo sin is tasty. Only a small leap to sinful oober rich- decedent chocolate cake or something similar as a marketing tactic. Then you have dieting programs coming up with the whole sin/cheat sometimes thing… it’s really silly.
    @Alan- the side of bacon thing is awesome! That is a very perceptive waitress.

  63. I have the world’s best way of getting out of social desserts. I tell people I have epilepsy (I really do) and that cutting out the carbs keeps me in ketosis which keeps me from having seizures (it really does).

    People are very understanding if they know that, for you, their lovely sugary creation is a seizure on a plate.

    1. Maybe I could use that excuse for the RSD I have. A low carb diet has certainly HELPED!! Aspartame causes spasms in my right leg. After I quit sugar and grain, my autoimmune response lessened. I should just say…Carbs make give my leg painful spasms..

  64. Interesting article and great responses. I simply say – I don’t eat processed food – if they ask why I just say – because it doesn’t make me feel good. That’s usually enough, if not I bore them with details of the candida infection I had. Caused by antibiotics and excess sugars/alcohol – that usually does the job, for good.

  65. My family and book club know I cannot eat wheat (dermatitis herpetiformis), so this new change (just started 2/21/11) of no sugar or most carbs has not been such a big step. I like being able to tell the girl scouts selling in front of the grocery store “I can’t eat wheat or sugar.” My husband doesn’t like their cookies anyway, and we shall see if he decides to go low carb. Losing 2 1/2 pounds in my first 8 days is nice, but the happiness I feel and decrease in joint pain and feeling in control (instead of the carbs)are “icing on the cake” so to speak. But, for birthdays, what do others do for a “treat?”? I like having raw nut butters, and I also had half a teaspoon of frosting last week for our birthdays and boy was it sweet. My husband says he feels bad for me not being able to eat the cake or ice cream. Liked the article!

    1. Getting rid of my daily headaches and leg spasms has been amazing. My husband no longer feels bad that I cannot Have sweets, he has joined me. He said that if it helps me so much to stop eating sweets and breads, it must be bad for him too. He is amazingly self controlled about it which is a tremendous help to me. We are just the weird ones at get together’s with our friends. We bring a large fresh salad if it is a pot luck. If people ask me what I can eat when they extend an invitation, I just say…”I’m easy, just a chicken breast, or unprocessed meat on the grill and a salad will be fine.”..”I’ll bring the salad!”

  66. I am allergic to food color , preservatives and additives…so friends are always checking with me. BUT..,.their idea of “make it from scratch” and my idea are FAR apart. Throwing a jar of yellow peppers into sliced beef to make Italian beef, disguises the fact that yellow #5 is in the meat.(in the peppers)
    When my husband is carrying me out the door to take me to the emergency room because I can’t see out of my left eye and my left side is rapidly becoming numb, and I can no longer talk…almost like a stroke… and am throwing u p violently,,,They begin to take it serious and leave all the labels out for me to read when I come over.

  67. How about, “No thank you.” And if they pressure you say, “I’ve realized that I have always had an addiction to sugar and I have been using it as an emotional crutch. Unfortunately, if I even have just a little, that’s all I will crave. I just do/feel better without it.” Haha….I have yet to be this honest but I think I will give it a try. I think you would have everyone chewing very quietly for awhile contemplating their own demons.

  68. When I first quit sugar I wasn’t confident enough in my choice so I felt the pressure (extended family, all women bake cakes) and was weak in my arguments. So to make my life easier I would say “I quit sugar because of diabetes”. That was either enough or I would get asked if I had diabetes, to which I would say “No, but I could and I want to avoid it”. I left it kind of vague so they would think that I already have some reason to think I could become diabetic.

    Now that I’m confident and comfortable with my choices, I simply say “No, thank you. I don’t eat sugar.” and smile proudly. 🙂

    I haven’t had too many chances to test the latter, but I bet that my attitude behind the statement results in a lot less nagging. People tend to accept your convictions a lot quicker when you say them like you mean them.

    Courage and honesty. People will live.

    This is coming from a former people-pleaser addict 😀

  69. today’s ‘daily apple’ was so well timed..i’ve been primal for almost a month and i love the way i feel on this program. last night i got an email telling me that there will be cake at an upcoming professional meeting, and suddenly i was sooo crabby. traced that feeling back to the realization that of all the things i no longer eat, cake is the hardest to resist. it was great how mark reminded us of the 80/20 rule and advised us not to beat ourselves up if we slip. just that permission makes me stronger. thanks, mark!

  70. I usually tell them “no thanks, that’ll make me feel sick/like crap” which is true. Sugary foods will leave me tired, and greasy foods put me on the toilet. Shame on individuals for trying to poison my body!

  71. I just say, sorry, “I can’t have sugar or any sort of starch. It looks amazing and im sure it tastes delucious. I might take a piece hone for my mum if theres any left.”I have an indignance that I am nor obliged to go off my lifestyle just to fulfil someone’s need for praise. if they get offended, it’s silly and they need an attitude adjustment. I get extremely annoyed when people try to force things on me or maniPulate me with their “hurt feelings”. It’s like blackmail. What I eat is none of anybody’s beeswax.

  72. If they made it, you can’t decline, and that’s the end of that story.

    If its in a restaurant, just decline. Though one handy thing is to look friendlily at the waiter and say “But I’ll have a Coffee!” instead.

  73. It is a shame so many feel so subtly victimized by another person’s (assumed?) sensitivities. I remember what that felt like, so my heart goes out to you all. But the astounding truth is – you don’t have to tell anyone anything at all in way of explaining what you are choosing in any moment to put into your body for any reason. Sure, they wanna know. So what? Just say no thank you. If they ask why? Just say I just don’t feel like eating it. Don’t apologize, even with your EYES. “Just a little slice.” “No thank you.”
    Just let them be uncomfortable for a moment, even feel uncomfortable yourself. So what? You’ll all get over it in about 10 seconds. Ahhh, sweet freedom. Much tastier than cake.

  74. I had an interesting one last thanksgiving. I normally take pumpkin pie & leave the crust as this causes little imbalance for me. But the hostess made it with sugar pumpkins & still used the same amount of sugar. Total disaster!

  75. a long, long, time ago, far, far away, i overheard the grown-ups decline offers of different types of foods by saying “oh, not thank you – that has _________ in it. i can’t eat _______. it doesn’t agree with me”.

    then the 80’s came along and people started drilling down into more specific sensitivites (emotional peanut allergy, anyone?).

    i prefer this old-school approach for dealing with older adults (50+). also – the added bonus for me is that there’s no lie in it, so i use it a lot.

  76. It becomes harder if you’re staying with people important to you for several days, as I will be doing in March. Their diet is appalling even by SAD standards. Minimal vegetables, much processed dipped in crumbs and fried meats. Fruit is a non event totally. Desserts, chocolate are the main dish. Coco cola is purchased in large amounts and sits on the bench to be consumed like water. I was unable to resist the chocolates just lying around on side tables (they buy the stuff by the carton not just the packet). I truly don’t understand. Last time I stayed there I purchased most of my own food. I’m in a much better head space now so hope it will be easier this time. They think I’m odd!!

    1. OMG! Bummer! When I went to DK my aunt told everyone in advance I was allergic to carbs. So everyone was sweet & made more vegetables. I took my own homemade protein bars for breakfast & had coffee & cheese with it. It worked out well! Next time I would have more bars to make up for some of the scant meals. The coolers you plug in, could be packed with other things & kept in your room. Like having your own fridge with healthy snacks & beverages.

      My same aunt has a trick which may help someone. She tells people she has to go to ‘church’. Then they go out to eat what they want somewhere. (she’s not even catholic!) LOL Does anyone else have a clever idea? Good luck everyone! It is hard!

  77. did anyone else think Half Baked when he mentioned feeding the cake to a dog? Butternut! “I didn’t know that horse was a diabetic!”

  78. I am 21 and have been diagnosed with diabetes a couple years ago. It seems like it would be easy to refuse, until you visit someone diabetic who thinks you have so much in common. When they are someone who is old, overweight, unhealthy, on a buch of meds, and lives a completely opposite lifestyle but we both have “diabetes” so i can have some pf heir healthy choice desserts or some artificially sweetened crap. I don’t consider myself diabetic anymore, and it is hard to explain why I eat the way I do. I eat the food that is healthy for me only, not your diabetic uncle!!! Leave me alone if I don’t want your gluten sugar hydrogenated oil filled dessert. For me it’s the assuming they know how I eat that bothers me.

  79. This is a good article, but *please* do not lie about food allergies or sensitivities. I actually have severe food allergies and sensitivities, and am constantly accused of faking them because everyone knows someone who does that, apparently. Please…just take any approach other than that.

  80. I’m a little concerned by some of these suggestions about hiding and refusing food. Mashing food around on your plate? Hiding food in a napkin? These are classic eating disordered ways of dealing with food. Now, I’m primal with the best of them, but it’s never healthy to treat any food as something contemptable to try to weasel your way out of. You may unknowingly be teaching an impressionable person how to progress in their eating disorder.

    Just be open and honest. A firm “No thank you” should work.

  81. i always say, no thank you. and it works. if they ask; are you sure? i say, i’m good

  82. SInce sugar makes me feel bad (physically ill) after I eat it, I simply say “I can’t eat sugar”. If pressed further “Are you diabetic?”, I just say “No. I just can’t eat sugar”. That usually ends it and word gets around. There are LOTS of excuses in my office to celebrate with sweets (BDays, Anniversaries, Retirements, etc.). A lot of the time, the people bringing the treats will also bring fruit, but for the most part, I no longer get “grilled” when I show up to wish well and leave without eating.

  83. I don’t really have a problem with having to decline food. I’ve known about my celiac since I was 15, so most people know, “Oh, Katie can’t eat NORMAL food” but now people feel sorry for me and want to make me special things and it’s so hard to give them direction. I know, I know “Boo-hoo, people love you,” But what people don’t understand is that I really don’t feel deprived when I’m sitting there with my thermos of soup and baggie of grapes while they eat their sandwiches and cake!

    Also I think I’m becoming the weird girl who brings soup with her everywhere she goes. 😀

  84. My usual response (if a simple, “no, thank you” doesn’t work) is to say that I’m on dietary restrictions for a medical issue or medical issues. It’s truthful – primal eating keeps me off GERD medications and has rid me of a host of other health problems. Plus it sounds just “official” and personal enough that hardly anyone digs further; for those that do, I say it’s a *personal* medical issue that I’d rather not discuss. Usually works for me.

  85. I don’t eat dessert. And I am invited to functions for the expressed purpose of offering me dessert. I end up not-going, because it’s so awkward and uncomfortable.

    My experience has been that people are rarely content to leave my answer at “No, thank you.” So I have to explain that I DON’T LIKE dessert. The sight, taste and texture repulse me. And you really don’t want to know what chocolate looks like to me.

    It’s entirely inconceivable to most people that a person could not like dessert. Even the author of this blog treats the subject as something that the reader would want to eat if not for a commitment to the diet.

  86. It’s the age old dilemma isn’t it. We’ve given up on the things we know we shouldn’t eat and we manage fine until the moment it’s offered up and we really don’t want to offend. Strangely when I’m in the company of people who I know don’t eat healthily I find it very easy to say no to the things I don’t want to eat, dare I say it makes me feel quite superior lol. Like alcohol, I seldom drink because it affects my sleep and gives me palpitations but I find it the easiest thing to refuse because I know that everyone else will be drinking like fish because the host provides endless bottles of wine and that their behaviour will eventually reflect just how much they’ve had. I just watch them getting more and more under the influence and feel great drinking just water.

    Desserts aren’t quite so easy but I have a big thing about eating anything that I can’t be certain about the ingredients so it’s much easier. I actually gave in when my sister in law said she had cheesecake, I agreed to have some, it was god awful, bought almost certainly from some cheap food outlet. She only cut me a sliver for which I was grateful.

    So I wonder, why can’t we just say no and not have to undergo the third degree about why? Is it something in the person offering, nay pressing their dessert upon us that needs a reason why we won’t have it? I think it’s largely because they would love to have the resolve to refuse too but don’t and therefore are driven to make you have it in order to assuage their own guilt. There’s nothing so comforting as being in the company of those who know they shouldn’t but they all do, they can either feel guilty together, “Oh I know I shouldn’t but go on then” or they can indulge like naughty children who know they aren’t going to be given away. It’s all psychological.

  87. I have termed “obligatory eating” as eating such things to please others , be it a special dessert or other Carby foods. I try to keep my diet tight to make room for obligatory eating. my personal rule is that I will always eat celebratory food such as birthday or wedding cake. I sometimes I’ll ask what we are celebrating when someone offers such food at work as they do so often. I think it is also an oppurtune moment to tell someone that I try to keep desserts to 3x per week(even if it’s less). Frequently they agree and express their wish to do the same.

  88. I like to place my hand on my tummy and something like “not right now, thank you” or “I am going to wait a little while” this will give me a nice diversion, and often can distract anyone long enough for the event to end.