Monday, January 5, 2009

How To Politely Pass on Dessert

I must be getting my inspiration for this post from all of you, my readers! I have received a lot of interesting questions, suggestions and comments from you, some concerning this very topic, which have inspired me to write about it.

I'll cut right to it--It feels rude to turn down dessert! It's especially tough to turn down if you are a guest for dinner and dessert was made for you. Yikes! Your host doesn't know that you have decided to give up sugar for a week, a month, or a year. What do you do?!?

The psychology of this is quite strange, and I experienced situations like this last year. First of all, you want to please your host and let them know that you are gracious for their time and effort in cooking for you.

It starts off like this: You are welcomed into their home and smell brownies cooking in the oven. Your heart sinks. You forgot to let them know about your no-sugar diet. You start immediately obsessing about what to do. You could tell them about your no-sugar diet, but you know how much they love to bake for you. You know that they will either feel bad secretly, or really let you have it! So, you consider eating dessert anyway. Just a tiny, little piece.

Then, (supposing that you have not said anything about your no-sugar diet) all through dinner you wonder what you should do about dessert. Maybe you should say you're full. But you know that your good friend, or mom, or grandmother, or whomever is your host will talk you into eating dessert anyway. You've already played the "I'm really full!" card, and it's never worked before. All through dinner you are putting a load of pressure on yourself to do the right thing.

There are only two right things:
1. Eat the dessert so you don't offend your host.
2. Be true to yourself and pass on dessert.

What do you do?

At this point, only you know what the right thing is to do. There are a plethora of variables that only you know about your host. Some hosts may not be offended at all if you pass on dessert. Other hosts may act all dramatic and horribly offended but then draw you into a pleasant conversation about your no-sugar diet asking all kinds of great questions. Still others may get pushy and start to get angry that you won't take any--because you've always eaten dessert before and they spent hours working on the Tiramisu!

The "guilt-trip" is my least favorite tactic that a host chooses to use. Little do they know that you are already feeling bad that you didn't disclose your diet ahead of time, and little do they know how difficult it is for you to stick to a diet/resolution! The host who uses the guilt trip most likely uses food as their way of showing you how much they love you. Rejecting their dessert is like rejecting them. This goes way back, generations ago. Grandma always had hot, gooey cinnamon rolls for me because she loved me. Mom always has warm cookies or a chocolate cake made from scratch because she loves me.

I'm not saying that baking for somebody because you love them is a bad thing, but if it's to make the baker feel better about themselves, despite what the eater wants, then it is selfish. Like I said, the psychology of this is strange, and I may be way off. However, I've had a lot of time to think about the meaning of desserts and baking for others, because I've found myself in similar, quite precarious situations! Downright uncomfortable! Fortunately, I declared at the very beginning of the year last year, that I was going sugar-free. Believe it or not though, I had people bug me about my decision all year long! For some reason, going sugar-free makes some people really defensive. Please be patient. Win someone over with your patience and being kind. This will make a bigger difference than a shouting match that you won't win.

How about preventing uncomfortable situations before they happen? I'll share some tactics that I have used, and others that I thought of after offending someone. I never gave in--and I do not regret my decisions.

How To Politely Pass on Dessert:
  • Let your host know ahead of time that you are currently on a no-sugar diet. Ask if you can bring a "naturally sweetened" baked good for dessert, or some naturally sweetened ice cream. (Luna & Larry's--delicious coconut ice cream!)
  • If you've forgotten to let your host know about your diet ahead of time, bring some naturally sweetened goodies anyway, and perhaps a basket of fruit and a bottle of wine, or flavored tea. Let your host know, at the appropriate time, that you forgot to inform him/her about your no-sugar diet, but that you have brought some naturally sweetened goodies/fruit and wine that you would enjoy sharing with everyone.
  • Let's say that not only have you forgotten to inform your host ahead of time, but you have also not had the time to pick up goodies or fruit or wine. My advice to you is STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF ANYWAY! If you give in to dessert out of obligation, not only will you feel bad about yourself, but you may unfairly resent your host for offering you the dessert. It is not your hosts fault if they don't know.
  • In an effort to be polite and stay true to your resolution, if the time comes for you to either take a piece of dessert or decline, be graceful about it. This may make the difference between a pleasant reaction from your host or an all-out shouting match. Politely say, "No thank you. Looks and smells delicious, but I am abstaining from sugar right now." I hope that your host will treat your decision with respect. Whether or not it goes over well with him or her, you will feel incredibly good about yourself, and will be more likely to decline desserts in the future.
I really hope this helps!


cathy said...

It's good to know how to pass politely on food - especially dessert - for so many reasons! Stay true to yourself and good luck this year. Looking forward to reading more of your sugar-free adventure!

McD's Apple Pie said...

If you've had dinner, you can say "I'm full I don't have room for dessert" as well.

McD's Apple Pie said...

If you had dinner, you can always say "I'm full, I don't have room for dessert."