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Take Away the Power of the Food Charmer


Despite all of our best efforts, sometimes there are external factors that get in the way of our healthy goals. And sometimes they can be friends, family, or well-meaning strangers disguised as food charmers.

On the last day of a trip to Colorado Springs a few weeks ago, my mom and I stopped at SouperSalad for a healthy lunch. If you've never been to one, these salad bar chain restaurants have a long selection of salads and toppings. However, toward the end of the buffet, there are hot food choices such as soup, tacos, baked potatoes, mac 'n cheese, and, of course, dessert.

This day, having just wrapped up the Women's Health and Wellness Weekend, I was extra motivated to eat healthy. So I fixed a fresh veggie salad and topped it with vinegar and oil for dressing. I slowly scanned the other options on my way to our booth and made the stern decision to stick with my clean eating.

About halfway though the meal, a server passed by our table. Noticing we didn't have any desserts, he spoke up, "Didn't you see our strawberry shortcake? It's delicious!" But he didn't stop there, he went on and on about the other tasty desserts and how we shouldn't pass them up.

RELATED: Dealing with a food charmer yourself? Check out the 10 types of food pushers and how to respond.

My mouth began to water, and my eyes started to wander to the dessert bar. But I was able to snap myself out of it and stand my ground. I hadn't gone back for seconds, and I certainly wasn't about to retrieve any sweet desserts, no matter how tempting they sounded! This time I recognized what was happening: I was dealing with a food charmer.

Food charmers, also called "sabotagers" or "food pushers" in the weight-loss world, love offering foods to others whether or not they're hungry. They tempt, entice, and guilt-trip those of us who get weak around tasty treats. Sometimes they're strangers and other times they are friends and family. Most of the time they don't even realize they're doing it.

How did I figure this out? During this journey with SHAPE, I've been paying attention to my encounters with food in social settings. It used to be that when I heard, "You have to try this!" or "You must have one, it's soooo good!" I rarely said no. Now that I recognize my weakness, I'm working on building my backbone in the social department when food is concerned.

My life coach, Kate Larsen, urges me to have a plan before venturing into such situations. Eating before I go out, having my "no thank you" response ready, and making the best choice possible are some tactics I've been putting into play. This time I'm proud to say I was successful with the dessert-pushing server.

Disarming food charmers is no easy task, but giving in will only keep me from my goal. My end results are about me—and I'm not about to give that power to anyone else!


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