"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
August 1, 2013
I Don't Want Dessert!
by Cyndie Swindlehurst

Question:

I don’t like dessert. It’s not just that I don’t eat it to stay thin (although I am thin). I actually don’t like it!

The problem is that people always press me to eat dessert, as if I actually wanted to eat it, but wasn’t because of the calories or lack of nutritional content.

I’ve decided that I will not be pressured into eating dessert any more, but even when I say “No, thanks” I feel awkward just sitting there while everyone else eats.

Do you have any ideas on how I can handle these situations better?

Answer:

So you don’t like dessert. There is nothing wrong with that. And there is nothing wrong with declining a dessert at a party, dinner, shower, reception, or church activity. You simply smile and say, “No, thank you.” Then you return to your conversation with the person next to you.

If your hostess looks surprised or says, “Are you sure? It’s delicious!” you keep smiling and repeat, “No, thank you.” Then you return to your conversation. Comments about your discipline, your slender figure, how “good” you are, how another person can never resist dessert, etc. should be met with a small, pleasant smile, but no comment.

If someone serves you a plate of dessert even after you have said “No,” just don’t eat it.

There are three tricks to pulling this off gracefully.

One, act as if you are making a totally unremarkable choice that no one cares about or even notices. If you are among polite people, they will be acting that way anyway. It is rude to notice or comment on what another person is eating or not eating.

If you are among impolite people, you will just have to pretend not to notice their rudeness. Why pretend? Because the alternative is calling attention to their rudeness, and calling attention to a person’s rudeness is very rude. Not only is it unkind, it makes everyone else around you uncomfortable, which is rude to your hostess.

So any comments on or questions about your eating habits should be met with mild surprise and vague answers. Your goal is to steer the conversation away from the topic of your eating habits, not to discuss them. Remember that you have no obligation to answer nosy or uncomfortable questions.

For example, imagine someone asks, “So — do you never eat sweets or do you just not eat them in public?” You could respond by looking almost startled, as if such a question were very odd, and say, “Oh, I don’t know.” Then return to your conversation or change the subject.

Two, make absolutely sure that you are not giving off even a whiff of distaste at the dessert itself or at the people eating it. There is no moral implication to eating dessert, after all; it’s just a preference, like whether or not you like Mormon pop music.

So even if the proffered dessert is the most disgusting-looking concoction you can imagine, entirely made of chemicals, lard, and high-fructose corn syrup in a kitchen full of cats, and even you think the people eating it really shouldn’t be eating it, keep a completely pleasant expression on your face. Because, as you will recall, it is rude to notice or comment on what another person is eating.

It might be tempting to explain why you do not eat dessert but I would avoid it. You want the conversation to move away from the topic of dessert and your eating habits, not to delve into it. And whatever reason you give will likely be met with criticism, ribbing, and cajoling. Also, almost any explanation would unavoidably be a criticism of the dessert or of people who eat dessert.

Three, continue to participate in the conversation or activity. At almost any gathering, socializing is the primary activity, not eating. So lean forward, engage, be part of the group. If you sit back silently and stare skeptically — or even neutrally — at everyone else’s plate, you will appear to be criticizing your fellow-guests, or turning up your nose, neither of which is polite, and neither of which will endear you to others.

So that’s how you gracefully decline a dessert. But when it comes right down to it, as long as you are behaving well, you need to be comfortable being different in a group, and stop worrying about what others will think of you. I think you might be reading more into your decision than there is: It really, truly is no big deal if you don’t eat dessert!

Finally, I can think of a situation where you should eat dessert: If a dear little child has made it just for you, and says, “Grandma, look what I made for you,” then you match his expression of excitement, take a big bite, and declare it delicious.

Do you have a quandary, conundrum, or sticky situation in your life? Click this button to drop Cyndie a line, and sheíll be happy to answer your question in a future column. Any topic is welcome!


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About Cyndie Swindlehurst

Cynthia Munk Swindlehurst spent her childhood in New Hampshire and her adolescence in San Diego. She served a mission in Manaus Brazil. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and from Duke University with a law degree.

She practiced law until her first child was born. She enjoys reading, tap dancing, and discussing current events. She and her husband live in Greensboro, North Carolina with their two sons.

Cyndie serves as the Sunbeams teacher in her ward.

Visit Cyndie at Dear Cyndie
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