The fine art of saying no

One thing I never really expected to increase after my gastric bypass surgery was how often I have to say, “No,” to people. The rules I live by now take others by surprise and even though I repeatedly (in some cases) tell people things I still get the pleasure of answering, “No,” over and over, oftentimes to the same questions. I have learnt the fine art to saying no.

To be honest it is very easy to get exasperated by all of this and I did let it start to drive me slightly crazy about six months after my surgery. I had the attitude that I had told those close to me what my rules were and they should remember them and not pester me with questions about things I couldn’t eat or drink. It seemed no matter how many times I said I didn’t want something people would still keep offering it to me.

I very quickly learnt after my surgery that a lot of people can’t take no for an answer and will keep offering you things. I think this boils down to the overwhelming desire many people have to please others. They don’t want to see you going without and think that you need or should want lots of things you can’t have anymore.

I find this especially true in restaurants and having worked in hospitality I totally get it. Where I need to make a point though is when hospitlity staff get pushy and can’t let it go then I feel like I need to explain why and it can get akrward. As you know I don’t mind talking about my surgery but if you weren’t as comfortable as me I can see it would suck.

I never realised until after my surgery when food and drinking was no longer the absolute middle of my universe just how much other people focus on, obsses over and go on about food all the freaking time. Because I am just nowhere near as interested in food anymore constantly talking about it like I used to often just bores me to death now.

You need to stick to your guns and not be swayed by peer pressure. Just because someone else can’t understand why you can’t or don’t want something doesn’t mean you need to do it to please them. I am guilty of it myself but we all have the person we know who loves to show their love for everyone through food. It’s a satisfying, nurturing thing to do for the people around you and this can make it hard to say no. That’s why I’ve likened it to peer pressure because it really is in some contexts.

I find telling people why can be helpful and can make them stop going on about it. Often in restaurants I will just say that I have had surgery on my stomach and that stops them badgering me. With family and friends now it’s more, “Nope my teeny tummy says no to that,” and that’s good enough. There will be the people and situations that will happen again and again and you will just have to make peace, as I have, with saying, “No,” over and over and over and over again.

There are times though when it’s better to just go along with things and not say anything. Often when I eat out, particularly in cafés, when I don’t order a drink the staff will bring me a glass of water. Now it’s easier to say thank you, let them give it to me and not touch it at all than try to say no and have to explain. If you can find times like this when just going along with things isn’t going to hurt/offend anyone then do it. Getting used to and finding the best way to say no is something I think we all need to work on after bariatric surgery.

Have you noticed how much people go on about and obsess about food after your bariatric surgery? Are you good at saying no yet or are you still figuring out how this works best for you after your bariatric surgery? Comment below I’d love to see how you are finding things.

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There are 10 comments for this article
  1. Amanda at 4:26 pm

    Hey Melissa! I was intrigued by your title as I have always had a problem saying no – wanting to be a people pleaser. The extra dimension of having an actual “reason” for saying no must make it a bit easier to say no – but to counter this, food is around constantly so I’m sure you’d get worn down by it.

    It’s funny how people react to being told no. As a parent I’m expected to say no to my boy – lest he is spoilt! Yet he seems to cope better with “no” than most adults.

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 5:04 pm

      Hey Amanda, it certainly does make it easier to say no but it make me get irritated further when people keep pushing the point, if you get what I mean. I think it’s just going to be one of those things that I just live with now I think. Yes, one of my main realisations when I finally felt like an adult was how so many other adults still act like children, funny isn’t it. It’s also painfully ironic that those adults expect you t say no to your child but to say it to them, well quite frankly, no!

  2. Nerida at 7:12 pm

    Totally get where you are coming from Melissa 15 months out and I’m over explaining myself when I saw no. If I say no its because I mean no. Restaurants and cafes are a good case on point with having to have you water with your meal or asking if there is something wrong with your food because you haven’t eaten it all. I’m five thanks and get annoyed with having to explain myself all the time. Ah guess it does annoy me.

  3. Merrill at 9:18 pm

    Your article is great timing, had my surgery two weeks ago and had my first encounter with weekend visitors who seemed to constantly eat and drink. I’ve never really realized how much food and drink is such a big part of our lives and I spent all weekend saying no!! Guess this is just the start

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 7:32 am

      It’s an amazing realisation isn’t it. So much of what we do socially and just our lives in general are totally focussed around food. When you’re trying to avoid it for a large part it becomes obvious how machete’s around us. Hopefully you come up with some great strategies to be able to deal with the saying while keeping a smile on your face!

  4. Sarah at 10:10 pm

    Cafés and restaurants are the things I dread. I’m 5 months post surgery and apart from 1 occasion all my “eating out” experiences has been at places where you can share a meal; so staff don’t realise how little I eat. The 1 time I had a cafe meal to myself – I was the one feeling so awful about leaving so much on the plate – I felt as if I was being rude, and felt I needed to give an explanation for eating so little! Guess I need to toughen-up, and stop worrying what the cafe staff think :-). I guess it stems back my parents telling us it was impolite to not finish your meal …… And they wonder why I had a weight problem.

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 7:34 am

      As you get further out you will eat a little bit more in volume but you will still be explaining yourself. Sometimes now I’m just tempted to say I wasn’t as hungry as I thought! Yes that’s one thing I will never enforce with my child. I think that dulling of your bodies cues is part of why I ended up morbidly obese so I don’t push it with him. His grandparents on the other hand …..

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