By Dr. Daniel Amen

Food pushers are the people, places, and things that threaten to derail your efforts. Here are some tips on how to deal with food pushers.

  1. Ask your spouse and kids to hide unhealthy treats and snacks out of view or get rid of them so you don’t have to be tempted.
  2. If you are going to a dinner with friends or family, call ahead to inform the host that you are on a special brain healthy diet and won’t be able to eat certain foods. You only have to do this once or twice before your friends start to ask you what they could serve that is brain healthy.
  3. When going to parties, consider eating something at home first so you won’t be hungry at the event.
  4. Be upfront with food pushers. Explain that you are trying to eat a more balanced diet, and that when they offer you cake, chips, or pizza, it makes it more difficult for you.
  5. Instead of going out to lunch or dinner with friends, choose activities that aren’t centered around food, such as going for a walk.
  6. When people offer seconds, tell them you are pleasantly full. If they insist, explain that you are trying to watch your calories. If they continue to push extra helpings on you, gently ask them why they are bent on sabotaging your efforts to be healthy.
  7. Avoid visiting with coworkers who have a bowl of candy on their desk.
  8. Eat very slowly so when the host starts asking guests if they want seconds, you can say you are still working on your first helping. By the time you have finished, the second round of eating could be over, and you won’t have to be subjected to the offer for more.
  9. Give kids a healthy sack lunch so they don’t have to eat from the cafeteria, if schools serve unhealthy food.
  10. Commit to taking control of your own body and don’t let other people make you fat and stupid.
  11. Tell restaurant servers “no bread” or “no chips” before you’re seated.
  12. Tell restaurant servers “no dessert” before they have a chance to bring the dessert tray to your table.
  13. Ask your spouse not to eat trigger foods in front of you.
  14. Inform parents and in-laws ahead of time that you won’t be partaking in certain foods at family gatherings.
  15. Don’t buy junk food for your kids or keep it in the house for them. If they have it, you’ll want it. Plus, it’s better for their brain health.
  16. Ask friends or your spouse to split an entrée with you.
  17. Ask the restaurant server to pack up half your meal to go before they bring it to you.
  18. If the neighbor brings you a plate of chocolate chip cookies, immediately “re-gift” them to someone else.
  19. Bring a sack lunch instead of eating out or eating at the cafeteria.
  20. At church, skip the doughnuts and coffee after the service and stand outside if you want to socialize.
  21. If the snacks being offered at an event aren’t healthy, bring your own.
  22. At all-you-can-eat buffets, go for the salad (dressing on the side), steamed vegetables, and lean protein first, then after you have eaten that, go back if you still hungry want to try a higher-calorie item. Chances are you will eat a much smaller portion than if you had started with the fatty fare.
  23. Bring your own healthy snacks to the movies so you don’t have to go near the concession stand.
  24. Donate money to the Girl Scouts rather than buying cookies.
  25. Make it a rule NEVER to take free food samples ANYWHERE!