Sharing food with others has been a way of celebrating, bonding, and commiserating for centuries. However, one thing that doesn’t get talked about much is how difficult it can be to say no to people when it comes to food choices. One of the reasons you may be uncomfortable saying no is because you do not want to be seen as rude or ‘different’ because you have diabetes. Also, food can be a way of conveying love, care, and affection, and all these layers of meaning can make it even harder to say no. Here are my top three tips for asserting yourself.

  1. Acknowledge you are not being rude: Do this by simply saying, “thank you”. For example if your friend offers you a slice of cake, you might like to say, “Thank you for your offer but I don’t fancy any cake right now.” By communicating both parts of the message (you are grateful she is thinking of you, and saying you don’t want it) you can feel more comfortable and confident in what you really mean.
  2. Use ‘I’ statements: Can you sense the subtle difference between these two responses? “Thanks I don’t really want any cake right now.” and “Thanks but cake really isn’t good for me.” Using “I” in your statements subtly conveys you are taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings. This allows less space for unhelpful responses such as, “Go on, one bite of cake won’t hurt you!”
  3. Recommend a more suitable action: Shape the behaviour of the person to whom you are responding. If your host is offering you some food you don’t want, you could respond with, “Oh thank you it looks lovely. I can’t manage any just now but I would like another piece of fruit/top up of my drink.” This has two benefits. You are enabling the host to be the host (hosts want to give you something!) and you are taking control of the interaction, not allowing their agenda to get you off track of yours. Alternatively, you can distract the person with, “Oh, not for me thank you; but do tell me about your beautiful/interesting [insert something you have noticed — flowers, painting, dress etc.].

If you are interested in learning more about how to gain greater control over your diabetes and the way it affects your life, then get your copy of my Positive Diabetes Home Study System. This easy to use guide gives you everything you need to immediately get more control over your diabetes, with a focus on helping you to implement new habits, build momentum, and create lasting change to produce the results you want. Life is too short to keep struggling on your own. I know, I’ve been there — I’d love to help you too.

You may use this article on your website, or for your own e-zine; however, there’s one thing you MUST include: Dr. Jen Nash is a Clinical Psychologist registered with the British Psychological Society. Dr. Jen helps her clients find solutions with simple and highly-effective psychological strategies to gain freedom from the frustration and stress of living with diabetes. To sign up for her free Diabetes Diary, visit