How to tell your friend or loved one that you don't want to eat

Do you ever find yourself eating way more than you’re hungry for, because you don’t want to be rude or unkind to people you care about?

I’m gonna go ahead and bet that you have. Because who hasn’t?

I’ll be honest with you, the easiest and most direct solution when this happens is something insanely simple:

Tell the whole truth.

If you are tensing up in this moment, thinking Oh you don’t understand Katie, I couldn’t POSSIBLY tell the truth in this situation, Katie – well, then you are also very normal.

Almost every client I work with also tells me the same thing.

But think about this for a second: If you’re afraid of telling the truth, it’s because you’re not telling the whole truth.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s suppose that you are with an extremely close friend at a restaurant. You aren’t hungry, but you are also afraid that if you don’t eat, your friend will feel uncomfortable. And you don’t want her to feel uncomfortable.

At this point, you have two “truthful” options:

Option 1 would be to say, Hey, I’m not hungry, so I’m not going to eat right now.

And that would be totally fine and truthful. But also, if you’re a sensitive, thoughtful, empathetic person (which most people I work with are), that might feel a little abrupt.

And you know why it feels abrupt? Because you’re not telling the whole truth. 

The whole truth would be something like this:

Option 2: “I’m going to be honest with you – I’m not hungry and I’m really doing some personal investigation right now so I’m trying hard not to eat if I’m not hungry.

“But also, I know that sometimes when people don’t eat near me, I feel awkward eating. I really value you as a friend, so it’s important to me that you feel comfortable – you should definitely eat as much as you want – I would hate if I made you feel at all uneasy.”

Do you see the difference between those two options?

Option 1 just tells one piece of truth: I’m not hungry, so I don’t want to eat.

Option 2 tells a much richer, more complex truth. It tells a truth that you are trying to respect your own physical needs, but also that you really care about the other person, and it is an extremely high priority that they feel comfortable.

Most people I talk to, who feel uncomfortable telling the truth, think that the “truth” is Option 1.

But I would actually argue that Option 1 isn’t the whole truth. The whole truth acknowledges both what you need and your concerns about other people.

In this way, you are able to honor your needs as well as the needs of people around you.

Some objections

I know what you might be thinking: Option 2 is kind of long.

That’s totally true. It is a bit longer.

So I’ll clarify: this might not be a strategy that you use when you’re taking a high profile client out to lunch, say, or when you’re with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. This is a strategy that you use with people you are very close to, people who can handle hearing your truth even if it takes a few seconds to get it out there.

You use this strategy – telling the whole truth – with people you can truly trust.

You tell the whole truth to the same people that you could tell if you felt sad or happy or nervous. Because they accept you as a complex person, with complex needs.

And they want you to feel comfortable, just like you want them to feel comfortable.


What if they don’t care about my needs?

Of course, there are going to be some people who, even after you tell the whole truth, don’t really seem to hear you.

Even if, for example, you tell them that you’re eating because you’re tired, and you should really just go home but don’t want to hurt their feelings, they might not care.

They might say, “Com’on, this is soooo delicious. You have to eat some more/drink some more/stay out at this great place for another hour. You can diet/sleep tomorrow.”

And look, there’s no perfect solution in those situations.

But it is worthwhile acknowledging something: sometimes it’s hard for everybody’s needs to be met. But at least if you get the truth out on the table, you can make informed compromises. 

Maybe you’ll stay out a little later, because your friend needs some support. Or maybe you’ll go home, but call her to chat and listen to her from the comfort of your bed.

If you want to go home…

If she wants time from you….

And if you both care about each other…

Then some compromise can be made, that takes into account both of your needs.

And if you never speak your whole truth, you’ll never get to have even part of your needs met.

I’d love to hear from you: In what situations have you been nervous about “saying the truth”? What do you think would happen if you tried to speak your whole truth? I’d love to support you and cheer you on if you leave a comment below!


p.s. Don’t even know where to start to deal with your eating issues? Check this out.