Articles / How to Deal with People Who Tempt You

cartoon of a man holding a large bowl of ice cream
Would you like some ice cream?

When you go sugar-free, there will inevitably be someone who will tempt you to eat something sweet while knowing full-well that you are struggling to stay off sugar.

They’ll say, “Don’t you want some?” as they wave your favorite dessert under your nose. If you get annoyed, they’ll claim they were just being playful, and that you’re the one who is being too sensitive.

Ignore those people. They have no power over you. The temptation comes from the sweets, not from the person. You wouldn’t be tempted to eat a cookie made of dog poop if they waved that under your nose.

The person who tempts you with sugary junk food is trying to make you fail. Why would they do that? Because your choice impacts their life.

Your ability to be your word means that they could also be their word. It means that they have power over their destiny when they might not think that they do. Your actions are challenging their worldview.

A more sinister explanation is that the person thinks they have control over you, and they don’t like you thinking independently. By tempting you, they are trying to prove to themselves that they hold power over you. They’re acting like the junk food industry personified.

Here are some suggestions about how to deal with people who tempt you with sweets:

Walk Away, Calibrate

Avoid these tempters. If they’re a friend or family member, avoid them for a while until you gain confidence in your ability to brush them off. If they’re your spouse then you have to deal with them. You can use them as a metaphorical dumbbell with which you can strengthen your ability to stop being sweet. Maybe you failed once, or three times. Each time is a chance to practice. Eat a little less each time, until you can say no.

Retaliate With Care

It’s very tempting to want to retaliate against a person who waves sweets in your face. Maybe you fantasize about taking out a deck of cards when you know they have a gambling problem, or by commenting on their weight, or by mentioning some other flaw you know they’re sensitive about. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Just walk away.

Make or Bring Your Own Food

When you go someplace for a party, always bring something sugar-free to share. That way there’s always something for you to eat, and you know exactly what’s in it. Having a sugar-free dish means you can participate in the ritual of communal eating, and you can blend in more easily. If someone offers you sweets, you can say, “No, thanks.”

Make Up Your Mind

Before you even put yourself in the situation, make up your mind. For instance: you’re on your way to the company barbecue, and you know Jerkey McJerkface is gonna be there. Before you even leave home, look yourself in the mirror and vow that you will not indulge in eating sweets. Having that kind of pledge and keeping your promise to yourself can give you a secret strength that nobody knows about.

Know What This is About

It’s more difficult to overcome peer pressure and abstain from sweets than it is to fit in and eat junk food. It’s easy to just say no, but just saying no doesn’t always work. You have to remember that you are caring for yourself and setting an example for others (friends, kids, family, coworkers, etc.) to follow. The situation with the tempter is not about sugar, it's about some kind of social BS. It might have nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. Separate the sugar from the actions of the tempter, and examine what is really going on.