Done with Dieting Episode #152: Is it Rude? Or Boundaries?

rude or boundaries

Are you feeling caught between wanting to please others and wanting to prioritize your health and well-being this holiday season? 

Listen in as I discuss the often tricky issue of setting boundaries, particularly during social events. Learn about mindset shifts and techniques to help you manage social pressures without sacrificing your well-being. I’ll share relatable stories from some of our clients, Lisa, Sarah, and Amy, who have all grappled with these challenges, offering invaluable lessons for all of us.

Join me as I navigate the tricky topic of saying ‘NO’, exploring why society pressures us to always agree and be polite, and the damaging effects this can have on our health and autonomy. I’ll also share insights on how to prioritize your own needs during the holiday season and how to say, NO without guilt. 

This episode is all about taking back control and prioritizing your well-being. So, if you’re ready to navigate this holiday season with more grace and less stress, this episode is for you.

Chapter Summaries

Setting Healthy Boundaries and Saying No (0:00:08) 

Set boundaries this holiday season without sacrificing well-being by shifting your mindset and using techniques to navigate social pressures.

Saying No (0:16:02) 

Saying no without guilt, setting boundaries, and prioritizing needs are discussed to understand why people push for a ‘YES’.

Prioritizing Yourself During the Holiday Season (0:27:41) 

Prioritize needs, set boundaries, say no without guilt, and enjoy the holiday season.

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • Explore the importance of setting boundaries in the face of social pressures, especially regarding food and drink, as we dive into a client’s experience, highlighting how these boundaries prioritize personal well-being without fostering isolation.
  • Uncover the strength behind saying no, drawing insights from Amy’s journey, emphasizing that the right to decline is a safeguard for your well-being, free from the compromise of politeness or others’ feelings.
  • Dive into the dynamics of saying no and establishing boundaries, examining societal pressures influencing decisions around food and drink, while emphasizing the crucial aspect of prioritizing personal well-being over societal expectations.
  • Gain valuable tips for confidently navigating the art of saying no, without feeling impolite, by focusing on simplicity and assertive body language, empowering you to gracefully decline and uphold your well-being.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Have you ever been to a party where the host keeps refilling your wine glass, but you’re trying to keep it in check? Or what about the time that grandma guilt trips you into having just one more slice of pie?

Well, today, we’re shedding the guilt and the ‘what will people think’ worry that we all have. We are tackling the difference between setting healthy boundaries and being rude. And guess what? They are not the same thing.

So, if you want to navigate the holiday season without sacrificing your well-being, stick around. In this episode, I am sharing mindset shifts and techniques that you can use this holiday season to have your own back. Let’s dive in.

Welcome to the Done With Dieting Podcast, where it’s all about designing the life, you want in midlife. I’m your host, Elizabeth Sherman, a master certified life and health coach, personal trainer, nutritionist, feminist coach, and specialist in women’s hormones.

Are you tired of scales, food logs, and strict diets? Struggling with hormonal symptoms and the challenges of aging, changing relationships, and entering the next phase of your life? You have come to the right place.

Here, we talk about food freedom, nurturing a better relationship with your body, and feeling great again. All without the weight of traditional dieting methods.

Through a mix of solo podcasts and conversations with industry experts, I’m here to guide you towards a healthier, happier you.

Join me as we explore ways to look and feel better and strive for optimal health regardless of where you are in your journey. But more importantly, to reclaim control, confidence, and joy in this beautiful stage of life.

This is the Done With Dieting podcast. Let’s dive in.

Hey everyone, welcome back to the podcast. Today’s topic is part two of the holiday health series. And this is a meaty one for you. It’s something that so many of us struggle with during the holidays. We are diving into something that many of us struggle with, especially during the holidays. Saying no, without feeling like the bad person, right? Without being rude.

So, the holiday season is rolling around, and we all know what that means. It means parties, get together, and all sorts of social events. Sounds fun, right? But let’s be honest. It can also be a minefield for your health.

Today, I’m tackling that topic that’s a real head scratcher for so many of us. How to set boundaries without coming across as ‘The Party Pooper’ or ‘offending.’ Right? We’re all worried about offending.

So, picture this. You’re at a holiday party, you’re having a great time. But then, the host starts topping off your wine glass every time you take a sip. Or maybe you’ve decided to skip dessert this year and suddenly, you’re on trial for not trying your Aunt Karen’s world famous pecan pie.

You feel stuck, don’t you? Like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. You either say, yes, and regret it later, or you say, no, and feel that somehow, they’re going to be disappointed in you. So, what do you do about it? Why do we get so twisted up about saying, no?

The truth is that it’s not about the wine or the pie. It’s about feeling obligated to please others, even if it’s at the expense of our own health and well-being. And let me tell you, when it comes to your health, you are the one who’s picking up the tab. Nobody else. Not Aunt Karen, not your grandma, not the host, not anyone, but you.

Now, later in this episode, you’ll hear about one of my clients, Amy. She found herself in a similar situation and was nervous as all get out. Her story might sound a lot like yours, and it’s got some solid lessons in it for all of us.

So, if you’ve ever felt cornered, obligated, or just flat out confused about how to navigate social pressures, especially around food and drink and your health, stick around. Because here’s the hard truth. What you allow will continue, and it’s high time we all got super clear on what we’re willing to allow.

Now, before you start thinking that setting boundaries means you’re going to become that person, that no one wants to invite to parties anymore, hear me out. Boundaries are not about keeping people out. They are about letting the right things in. And boundaries are not about other people. They are about you. And you know what should be at the top of that list? Your own well-being.

Now, I hear from a lot of women all the time who are struggling with these very issues. They’re at a party or a family gathering and suddenly they find themselves in the hot seat. Like Lisa, one of my clients who recently was talking about her husband’s family, that they are professional food pushers. She actually used those words.

Every time she visits, they’re offering her more food than she could possibly eat. And when she says no, it’s like she’s committing a crime. They give her the guilt trip and it feels unbearable. And she’s left wondering, am I really being rude or are they crossing the line?

And it’s so funny because a lot of my clients use ethnicity as one of the reasons why it’s okay. They’re like, oh, well, they’re Jewish or they’re Italian. Meaning, that because that’s typically part of that family’s culture, that it’s okay for them to do that. Or consider Sarah, another one of my clients who basically was bullied into downing a few extra cocktails at a work party. She didn’t want to be the quote unquote boring one, so she caved. And the next morning she felt instant regret.

The common thread here is that both Lisa and Sarah felt that they were somehow obligated to put other people’s desires over her own well-being. They questioned themselves, doubted their own instincts, and ended up making choices that left them feeling crummy.

Let’s talk about Amy, my other client that I mentioned earlier. Amy was headed to a holiday gathering at her boyfriend’s family, one who she described the crew as Enthusiastic Drinkers.

Now, Amy isn’t opposed to a glass of wine or beer, but she knows her limits and she really wanted to stick to them this holiday season. Yet, she was super concerned. She thought, what if they keep refilling my glass? What if they make it awkward when I say, no? It sounds familiar, right? Because we want to be accepted by those other people that we’re with.

Amy’s worries were genuine. She wasn’t overthinking. She was trying to preempt the situation where she’d feel stuck between a drink and that hard place of saying, no. And the really interesting part is that Amy said that it wouldn’t be an issue at all if they were offering her scotch, a drink that she absolutely doesn’t like.

Now, there’s powerful insight there, which is what we’ll get into in just a little bit.

With all of these stories, Lisa, Sarah, and Amy, they aren’t about the food and drinks, they’re about control, and the lack of it. They’re about how easy it is to relinquish that control in social settings, especially when we’re being pushed, or guilt tripped into doing things that we really don’t want to do.

And who picks up the pieces? You do. You are the one that’s left in the food coma, the hangover, or the extra weight. You are the one that’s left wondering, why did I let that happen?

So, as we wade through this topic today, think about your own experiences. Chances are, you’ve been in Lisa’s shoes, or Sarah’s, or Amy’s. The specifics may vary, but that feeling of not wanting to do something, and then succumbing to it. That’s universal.

But even though it feels like we’re between a rock and a hard place, it’s also avoidable. And that’s what we’re going to get into next. So, let’s dig a little bit deeper into Amy’s story because it’s such a clear example of the challenges that many of us face during the holiday season.

Again, Amy was set to spend the holidays with her boyfriend’s family for the first time. She was excited, but she was also super anxious because she knew that they liked to party. And by party, I mean drinks were always flowing. For Amy, it wasn’t about being a prude. She does drink, she enjoys a good time, but she was really trying to get her alcohol under control.

She also values her health and doesn’t like the idea of feeling lousy the next day, especially as she’s a woman in midlife, and alcohol affects her sleep. But she also didn’t want them to think something about her. She didn’t want to offend anyone.

So, here’s where it gets really super interesting. Amy’s initial strategy was to accept a glass of wine, but nurse it slowly throughout the evening. Sounds like a great plan, right? Well, it turns out her boyfriend’s brother was the refill king. The moment her glass was half empty, he was immediately topping it off.

The guy was like a ninja. She didn’t even see him coming half the time. Amy felt cornered. She thought, do I just go with it or keep the peace? Do I say something and risk making it awkward?

Amy did something really insightful next. She observed her feelings, she really dug deep, and asked herself, what is it that I want? She realized that she was less concerned about saying no, and more concerned about the reaction that she’d get. And that’s a key difference.

So, what did she do? She declined the next refill politely, but firmly. No, thank you, I’m good for now. And you know, what happened? Nothing. No gasps. No side glances. Nothing. Life went on.

But then, came dessert. A triple layer cake that looked like it was straight out of a food magazine. Amy’s not a big dessert person, but her boyfriend’s mom made a big deal about it. Oh, you have to try it. It’s my special recipe.

Amy took a small slice but didn’t finish it. And when pressed, she simply said, it’s delicious, but I’m full, thank you. Two totally different scenarios, two different types of pressure, but one common element. Amy had to navigate social expectations against her own needs and desires. And you know what? She did it. She got through the night without compromising her boundaries or her health.

Now, after the dessert, came the scotch. Now, that was just a deal breaker for her, which is so curious. Why could Amy say no to the scotch so easily without having any emotional attachment? It’s simple. She had no attachment to it. She didn’t want it. No expectation tied to it. It was easy to decline something that she didn’t have desire for in the first place.

Now, here’s what I want you to get from Amy’s story. You have the same right to say no. Whether it’s scotch, wine, or chocolate cake. Whether you desire it or not isn’t the point. The point is your choice affects you and only you.

You are the one who has to deal with the aftermath, and that’s something to protect. Not sacrifice for the sake of politeness or someone else’s feelings.

Okay, so let’s talk about the easy no. The one that slips off the tongue without a second thought. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those situations where what you’re being offered holds zero appeal to you. Just like Amy and the Scotch.

So, if someone’s putting down tequila, and you’ve been down that road before, right? Maybe in college, you were hugging the toilet. That no comes out quick and easy. No drama. You’re like, no.

The same goes for things that are outside of your wheelhouse. So, for example, if someone offers you cocaine, okay, and you’re like, no, that’s totally not my scene. You’re not going to hesitate about that. You’re not going to worry about what will they think, if you say, no. Why? Because your boundary is crystal clear.

Interestingly, we see this with food allergies all the time also. If you’re allergic to peanuts and someone offers you peanut butter, there’s zero hesitation. You’re like, no. You might even get a little irritated if they push it. Why? Because the boundary is non-negotiable. Your health is on the line.

And here’s where things get sticky. The scenario changes when we want to fit in. When the crowd is doing something that we don’t want to feel left out. We are social creatures. We are wired to want to belong. It’s this desire for connection that messes with us.

We start thinking. If I say no to this slice of cake or this glass of wine, am I cutting myself off from the group? Am I making myself an outsider? Are they going to think that I’m a prude? Are they going to think that I’m better than them?

But let’s turn this around for a second. What if it’s not just about what’s being offered, but who’s offering it and who’s around you? Sometimes it’s not the cake or the wine or the cocaine that’s the issue. It’s the fear of how we will be seen by the people we care about or even people that we’ve just met, if we say no.

Here’s the straight up truth. If saying no to a drink or a food item is enough to sever connection, was that connection even real to begin with? If someone is going to judge you or think less of you because you’re prioritizing your own health. Well, let’s just say it. They are not your people.

The real deal is this. When it comes to your health, the stakes are high. No one else is going to bear the brunt of your choices, only you. So, when you find yourself in that moment, wavering over whether to say yes or no, remember that your boundaries are yours to enforce. And those boundaries are not up for negotiation, not even for the sake of fitting in.

What’s super curious about this phenomenon is how we as women have been socialized to be nice, and to not say no. There’s this great eye opening quote by Gavin DeBecker. It says, “If a man says no, it’s the end of the discussion. When a woman says no, it’s the start of a negotiation.”

Let that sink in for a second. It’s amazing. The simplicity of that statement really packs a heavy punch. Think about it. How many times have you said no, only to have someone continue to press on you? And to push and try to change your mind. Maybe it’s that pushy relative who insists that you take that third helping at dinner. Or perhaps it’s the friend who won’t just accept that you don’t want another drink.

Either way, you find yourself in a tug of war where your no is the rope, and you are pulling for your dignity, your health, and your autonomy. So, why does this happen? Why is a woman’s no seen as an opening gambit and not a final answer?

Well, we can point fingers at societal norms. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those unspoken rules that have been drilled into us since we were kids. Be polite, be nice, be agreeable, don’t rock the boat. We’re taught to be peacemakers, not troublemakers. We are programmed to say, yes, even when everything inside of us is screaming, no.

But let’s not sugarcoat it. While this might be rooted in societal norm, it’s a norm that’s harmful to us. It’s a norm that devalues our health, our well-being, and our agency. And frankly, if being agreeable means compromising our health, then it’s time to ask, who am I really agreeing with? Who benefits from my yes?

Here’s another question for you. Who’s the real aggressor in these situations? Is it you for standing your ground? Or is it the person who’s bulldozing over your boundaries? I’d argue that it’s the latter. If you say no and someone keeps pushing, they’re the one being aggressive. They’re the one who’s not taking no for an answer. You are simply defending your health.

So, the next time someone tries to turn your ‘no into a maybe,’ stand your ground. Get p*ss*d. Be like, I said no. Remember that you’re not being rude. You are setting a boundary. And you’re enforcing it. You’re making a choice for your health. And it’s high time we ditch this messed up societal script that says, ‘a woman’s no is up for debate.’ It’s not. Your no is your no. And you owe it to yourself to make it stick.

Okay, so we’ve talked about the ‘Why.’ So, let’s move on to the ‘How’.

How can you say no, and mean it without feeling like you’re being a jerk, right? That’s what we all want to know. Well, the good news is it’s completely doable. And it’s a skill that you can hone just like any other. The point here is to get to a place where you can say no without getting that knot in your stomach. So, here’s how to navigate it.

First, keep it simple, short, and sweet. You don’t need to justify your no. You don’t need to go into a long spiel about why you can’t have another glass of wine, or why you’re skipping dessert. A simple no, thank you is plenty. Adding, it was delicious, but I’ve had enough, gives a polite nod to the offer without feeling cornered.

Two, use your body language. Your words say a lot, but so does your body language. Make eye contact, keep your posture open yet firm, and maybe even shake your head slightly as you say no. This sends a clear, nonverbal message that you mean what you say.

Step three. Noncommittal is always an option. So, let’s say that you’re not sure and you really don’t want to upset Aunt Karen who’s made her famous pie. You could say something like, you know what, not right now, maybe later. Or I’ll think about it. Now, this isn’t a flat out no, but it does buy you some time and space.

Step four. Be consistent. So, here’s where practice makes perfect. Stick to your guns. If you’ve said no once and someone keeps asking, keep your response consistent. The repetition shows you’re serious.

Step five. Redirect the conversation. So, after you’ve said no, immediately change the subject. Compliment the host on something unrelated or start a completely new topic. People are more likely to move on if you steer the conversation in a different direction.

And then, finally, have a go to phrase. Now, this one can be huge. Come up with a phrase that you are comfortable with, something that you can say automatically without thinking too much. It could be one that I’ve already mentioned, or it could be something like, I’m good for now, thanks. Or I’m watching what I eat, I got to save room for whatever later. This takes the pressure off having to come up with something on the spot.

So, the bottom line is this setting boundaries is not rude. It is self-care. because the best boundaries come from loving yourself. They come from having respect and dignity about who you are and what you want your future to be like. It’s like taking charge of your own health and well-being.

We are often so worried about offending others that we end up offending ourselves right in our core by ignoring our own needs. Stop feeling guilty for looking out for number one, that’s you. So, think about it, if someone’s feelings get hurt because you didn’t eat a second helping of their green bean casserole, is that your problem or theirs?

You are not rejecting them as a person, you are prioritizing yourself. And if someone equates your self-care with rudeness. Then, that’s a reflection of their stuff, their issues, not yours. It’s not your job to manage other people’s reactions. Your job is to manage your own health. That’s it.

So, practice your ‘no’. Rehearse it in the mirror if you have to. Get comfortable with it because it’s not just a word. No, is a full sentence. And it’s a sentence that could change your holiday season and your life.

So, let’s take a step back and look at the big picture here. Why does all this boundary setting matter so much? We’ve talked about the fact that it’s not rude, but let’s get down to the heart of it. When you don’t say no, when you don’t set your boundaries. Who is it that suffers? The answer is straightforward. It’s you.

Think about this for a moment. Say, you go along with the crowd, eat that second piece of pie, or have a glass of wine when you really didn’t want to. Maybe you’ll get a temporary sense of fitting in, of not rocking the boat, but how do you feel afterwards? You might feel guilty, you might feel regretful, you might feel uncomfortable, physically.

Yeah, none of those emotions are winning any ‘Feel Good Awards.’ That discomfort that you feel afterwards is a direct consequence of ignoring what you truly wanted.

Now, on the flip side, if you say no and stand your ground, the worst that happens is, what? Maybe a slight awkwardness? Someone might be briefly irritated or offended? But remember, that’s on them, not you. That awkwardness is the worst part. And you will feel so much better afterwards.

If you are surrounded by people who only value you, for your ability to eat a slice of cake or down another drink, it’s really time to question the quality of those relationships. You are more than your eating or drinking habits. And anyone who thinks otherwise, really needs a serious reality check.

And here’s the kicker, you are also showing yourself some serious self-respect when you say no. You are saying, I matter. My health matters. My feelings matter. And trust me, that message does not go unnoticed. It’s a message to yourself just as much as it is off to the people around you. And the more you say it, the more you start to believe it.

Standing your ground is not equivalent to being a jerk. It’s taking control of your own life. If someone’s going to get bent out of shape just because you made a decision for your own well-being. Well, that’s kind of their issue to resolve, isn’t it?

Don’t carry their emotional baggage on top of your own. You have better things to do like living your life the way you see fit.

The only one who suffers from a lack of boundaries is you. Set them firmly, set them kindly, but most importantly, set them.

Okay, so let’s wrap this episode up. Today, we’ve cracked open some pretty big stuff. We’ve looked at how saying no is not only okay, but essential to your own wellbeing. It’s not rude. It’s self-respect. And when you can’t muster the courage to set a boundary, you are the one who winds up paying the price.

We dissected the unfair societal norms that tell women that they should be agreeable at their own expense. We learned that saying no doesn’t mean you’re a jerk. It means that you value yourself enough to protect your own well-being. And we offered some go to phrases for you to practice. So, the next time you’re in a situation that calls for a boundary, you can set it with confidence.

The holidays are complicated enough without adding unnecessary stress to the mix. Let this be the year that you prioritize yourself without feeling guilty about it. Because guess what? You deserve to put yourself first. You really do.

Now, if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, you are in for a treat. We’ve got a whole holiday health series coming your way. Next up, we are talking about creating bare minimums to feel better during the holiday season.

We’ll also discuss how to prioritize yourself over the narrative that you are some kind of virtuous caregiver. And we’ll also help you identify and say no to the invisible workload that so many of us carry.

Trust me, you are not going to want to miss this series. So go ahead, set that boundary, say that no, and let yourself enjoy the holiday season the way you want to. Because at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.

That’s all I have for you today. Have an amazing day, everyone. I’ll talk to you next time. Bye-bye.

 Hey there, I am so glad that you spent this time with me today.

Are you feeling inspired to take control of your health, but not quite sure where to start? Or maybe you’re ready for that next step towards food freedom, body neutrality, and consistent eating habits. Either way, I’ve got something just for you.

If you’re a woman in midlife who’s done with dieting and ready to embrace a healthier relationship with food, your body, and self, let’s connect. Whether you’re interested in private coaching with me or my amazing group coaching program, we’ll discover what’s perfect for your unique journey.

So, why not book a consult? It’s a chance for us to chat one on one, explore your needs, and find the path that’s meant for you. Just head to and let’s get started.

I truly believe that transformation is within your reach and I’m here to guide you every step of the way. It’s your time to shine and I can’t wait to support you in this amazing journey.

Thank you again for listening and remember, I’m always here for you. Take care and I’ll see you soon.

Enjoy the Show?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is apple_podcast_button.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is spotify.png