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If you’re working hard to lose weight, you know that you have to steer clear of the pitfalls that pop up on your path to a healthy life. Whether it’s a well-meaning family member who loves to share her delicious baked goods or a waiter who wants you to order another drink, these pitfalls and high-risk situations can derail even the most dedicated. So how do you handle these challenges? One of the best ways to stay strong is to be an assertive eater.

What does it mean to be an assertive eater? It means being firm in your healthy choices by letting those around you know you’re serious. It’s being comfortable with saying “no, thank you,” and not wavering. It’s advocating for yourself and your goals in any situation.

In my new book, Brain-Powered Weight Loss, I explain in depth how being comfortably assertive can save you from falling back into old habits. I also walk you through six actions to take that will help you thrive as an assertive eater. Here, I’ll outline those actions and provide some examples. You’ll be taking control in risky situations in no time!

Action 1: Use a firm tone of voice.
Convey that you are sure in your choice through your tone of voice and facial expression. Sounding calm and sure removes any doubt that you really do mean what you say – “I’d prefer water over soda, thank you.”

Action 2: Maintain eye contact.
It’s a sign of sincerity when you look someone in the eyes, and that goes for communicating your food and drink choices, too. Looking your host, server or whoever else is offering you something to eat directly in the eye will let them know that you are being sincere when you make a choice. They should get the cue to respect your request.

Action 3: Be clear and unambiguous about your desires.
What you say is just as important as the behaviors that accompany your statements. Instead of saying “maybe later,” just give a simple “no, thank you.” While it may seem more polite to ask a waiter “if it would be possible” to make a healthier change to a dish, being firm is not impolite. It’s perfectly acceptable to instead say, “please tell the chef to…”

Action 4: Make sure to give a compliment.
If you have a host who keeps offering you another drink or bite to eat despite your protests, make sure you let them know that you truly are enjoying yourself. Compliment the food you’ve eaten or the overall party atmosphere. They’re likely offering because they want to know you’re happy – so confirm that you are!

Action 5: Suggest an alternative.
This isn’t appropriate in every situation, but for many gatherings, this can really help you get past potential bad choices. Bring a healthy snack for everyone to share, or ask for a diet soda instead of a cocktail. As long as you’re joining in the fun and not standing off to the side avoiding interaction, they’ll see you’re perfectly happy with your choices.

Action 6: Reinforce it all with a coping statement.
Don’t emphasize the food and drink aspect of social situations. After all, you’re getting together to spend time with people you enjoy! Say to yourself, “I’m not here for food – I’m here to have a good time with those I love.”

Now that you know how to be an assertive eater, put it into action. Don’t worry about being considered rude – you’re just standing up for the healthy choices you’re making for yourself. As long as you take the above actions and stay firm and friendly, you’ll succeed in being assertive in situations that could normally lead you to make poor decisions.

While being an assertive eater is a key tool to eating healthfully long term, there are many other tips and exercises in Brain-Powered Weight Loss that can help. Purchase now to get started!