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My boyfriend's brother-in-law (Bob) visits my boyfriend from time to time. Because he owns a bakery he always brings us a bag full of goodies. The bag almost always includes the following :a traditional sweet bread that I'm afraid I don't like at all, a very generic chocolate cake, and either cookies or a second kind of cake.

Don't take it the wrong way, I do think this is a really kind gesture and I shouldn't be complaining but I don't really want to eat them. I am trying to limit eating sweets, I still eat chocolate from time to time, but when I ask my boyfriend if he will eat the bread and cake, the answer is "I don't know" or "Perhaps". I'm really tired of decorating my table with cakes and breads in wrappers or basically being the one throwing them away because they have gone stale. And then the conversation is pretty much the same every time:

Me (baked stuff in my hands):

Hey babe, I'm throwing these away, they've gone stale.

Boyfriend :

I guess, yeah...

I don't want to hurt Bob's feelings and I don't want to sound rude so how can I politely tell Bob that while I appreciate the gesture, I avoid foods that contain sugar? He's always so happy to bring us the same stuff over and over again, and I hate to ruin the mood. Alternatively, is it weird to ask for something else from the bakery that doesn't contain sugar instead, and how?

What I have tried so far:

  • I have told Bob that he really doesn't need to bring anything
  • I have hinted in the past that I bake my own bread and I avoid refined carbohydrates but I guess Bob doesn't get the message.
  • I have asked my boyfriend if I can throw them away or donate them, but the response is usually, "Leave them. I might have some at some point" (and that point usually comes when I unwrap them and have some first, which isn't good for me).
  • I have asked a couple of relatives if they want any and they don't.
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    Where are you located? Different cultures have different norms around giving gifts: in some places it can be really offensive to decline a gift. – user288 Sep 14 '17 at 17:27
  • Unfortunately, southern Europe is not specific enough. There are a lot of differences between, say, Spain and Greece. And southern Europe as a region doesn't even have a clear, universal definition. I would strongly recommend adding a country tag. – user288 Sep 14 '17 at 17:56
  • @Hamlet True, though I've seen other people say southern Europe and since there wasn't an issue, I thought doing the same wouldn't be a problem. – Tycho's Nose Sep 14 '17 at 18:05
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – user288 Sep 14 '17 at 18:20
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I am trying to limit eating sweets

Switch frame to appear to be the embarrassed one (instead of embarrassing him):

"I really appreciate the cakes, but you know I'm trying to lose weight and... y'know, cookies and cake..."

This puts him in the helper role: you want to limit sweets, and he should want to help you with that. The fact you don't like his cakes is conveniently swept under the rug because you have a legit reason. If he gets it, he'll ask what you want. You can also suggest.

Your BF's aversion to making choices is another issue...

  • Good idea -trying to lose weight-even though I'm not. So simple and yet I didn't think about it. I guess because I'm normal weight and I'm not trying to lose weight. Thanks, it sounds better than me arguing with people over the effects of sugar on health. – Tycho's Nose Sep 14 '17 at 19:25
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    You can say "I'm trying to lose weight", doesn't matter if you don't, guys will follow the One Golden Rule: You Don't Ask a Lady About Her Weight! – peufeu Sep 14 '17 at 19:27
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For the last three years of high school I was on my own. Paid my own rent, bought my own food, attended high school full time and worked as a dishwasher and janitor at a restaurant every night. I rode a bicycle to and from work.

The restaurant owner knew my situation, and pretty much provided all my calories. Including letting me take home food. The only catch --- He let me take all I wanted only of what people did not buy and he would throw away. I am grateful, and I understood, and I did not break the rules. I've known many people since then that would not have been even that kind.

So I would pack up my Tupperware with the best of leftovers and bike to my rented room with five pounds of food for my 1000 year old round-corner fridge. I ate that for breakfast, lunch dinner and on my days off. The only thing I bought was candy. I didn't even buy school lunches.

Bob may be doing the same thing. Like a restaurant, much of what a bakery provides is prepared on speculation, and would have to be thrown away if it doesn't sell. People don't call ahead to get you to bake two chocolate chip cookies. That generic chocolate cake may be one of a dozen he baked, and the last one not sold. Bob may be thinking he can throw this stuff away, or because he knows some people like it, give it away for free to his friends: and you two are on the list.

I don't know that is the situation; but it makes sense to me. So to me, asking Bob to bring you something for free that he could have sold instead is both rude and unappreciative of the effort he made to save it and deliver it to you. Let your boyfriend eat what Bob brings, and toss it when it gets stale.

  • Bob is my boyfriend's relative so the relationship is closer in a way, but you might be right that he brings us stuff that probably people don't buy as often and which goes stale fast. He's a businessman after all. Asking him or hinting I might like something else, didn't sound like a good idea to me either and that's one of the reasons I asked this question. – Tycho's Nose Sep 14 '17 at 20:31
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You could try to let Bob know in unrelated conversations, what you really like. And maybe even, what you don't want.

If your boyfriend meets Bob elsewhere (maybe even visits him), he could then mention your preferences. To not make any connection to his gifts, he could for example tell him about how you changed your lifestyle and now eat mostly A and avoid B (maybe even jokingly, so that the (mild) joke is on you), or how you two once ate something you really liked and how you like that in general (something not containing sugar), or even more directly something he offers at his bakery.

You could return the gift, although not necessarily some baked goods, but something you like to eat yourself. This in itself may be a hint, but you could then tell him, how thankful you are and you wanted to do him something good, also. Now you bring him this or that, because you love it and he may, also. It contains almost no sugar and that's how you became aware of it, as you want to reduce the intake of sugar etc.. Here, again, your boyfriend could chime in with a (mild) joke about you to soften the mood.

I know, I always included that (mild) joke on you. It's probably not necessary, but it may soften it a bit and also somewhat put the blame on you and "your problems".

It's not that direct an approach, but also not as "risky" as telling him outright, that you don't like it and never did. On the other hand, he may not get the clue. But as a first try, it's perhaps not bad.

  • Thanks for your answer. I might make one of my breads because I don't want to make anything sweet, and point out how it has no sugar unlike most breads these days and so on...How ironic, gifting a bread to a baker! – Tycho's Nose Sep 14 '17 at 18:13
4

I have a friend like that. She loves to cook and she's good at it. Our tastes aren't always aligned.

What has worked for me is positive reinforcement. I especially praise the stuff I like (and would welcome more of). I let her know that we devoured the apple cake, that the peanut-butter cookies didn't survive to the weekend... and I just don't mention the pecan cookies.

Gifts are under the control of the giver and in many cultures it's rude to make requests ("hey, could we get more of that carrot cake?"). However, people like to know that their gifts bring pleasure. If my friend knows that I really like carrot cake, then maybe next time she's making them she'll make one for me, and that will consume a gift "slot".

I recommend against showing your enthusiasm by asking for recipes, though. I did that once and it was a long time before I got any more rum balls, because she assumed I was making my own now and she wanted to give me something different.

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If Bob clearly wants to bring stuff for you guys, find something he makes that you actually really enjoy. Go to the bakery and explore. When you find what you really want, hint to him after you buy it that he should bring the purchased item next time.

1

Go to his shop with a girlfriend, look over and openly discuss his menu, recommend stuff to each other. (just between you two, you know, giggly, good mood girl chat) Let your friend know how wonderful [the things Bob brought over previously] are...

"But you know now that I've cut out (cut back) my sugar I need to find a new favorite..." It's casual conversation between friends, that Bob happens to overhear. Then hopefully find something good on his menu that meets your dietary requirements, buy it, you and your friend taste it, lavish praise on Bob for it...

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