Often when I go out for a meal with my mother and grandmother, we often go to restaurant with large side dishes and also large main courses, as a result I am usually full and don't want a dessert. Owing to the nature of the restaurants (Pizza Hut, for those of you who know it), we typically order a dessert after having the main meal.

Usually after we finish the main meal my mother/grandmother offers me a dessert of my choice, and I usually say no, however they keep saying "oh go on", and eventually I say yes, usually because I realize that if they eat without me, that may make them feel bad, so I usually agree to get them to order me a dessert, and then don't eat it.

While answer specific to the people I'm talking about (parents/family) a general answer for non-family would be far more appreciated (hence why I'm not using the tag, as that's not the category of answer I'm looking for). So, how can I politely say "no" to being offered a dessert, but also preferably in a way that they won't then feel awkward eating without me.

  • 1
    Have you made them understand you are really full to the point that you might be sick if you eat anything more?
    – user324
    Jul 13, 2017 at 9:10
  • 2
    Remind them of the thin mint scene from Monty Python .
    – aslum
    Jul 21, 2017 at 16:12
  • Could you add a country tag to this question, and edit this question and add some information about the cultural context? The answer to this question will depend on your cultural context.
    – user288
    Aug 4, 2017 at 4:49

4 Answers 4


I understand your situation, being myself easily full when I eat, I often decline the dessert. The first thing to do, is making clear you appreciate the invitation to eat the dessert, but you simply can't and you don't decline to be polite.

However, you have some tricks:

  1. Tell you are not that hungry and you would take the half of something if they have the other half. You will actually just take a few spoons of it and let the rest to the other person (I don't like to waste food).

  2. If the person is really close and if it can be done in your country, you can tell her that you are not hungry but you will be happy to taste her dessert (the waiter will normaly agree to bring you an extra spoon). Again, just take one or two spoons.

  3. If you are thirsty, you can ask for a drink (coffee, tea...) while they have their dessert. You will have something in front of you, so it won't be awkward.

  • 3
    I do not like dessert foods and I use #3 frequently.
    – Joe S
    Jul 13, 2017 at 15:42
  • my dad always tries to get everyone to eat dessert when we go out. Luckily my mom does not like dessert much either so it is an easy no for us. But usually I just say I can't eat anymore or I would rather eat a cookie we have home. If he is really insistent I will offer to have a spoon to make him happy but generally I have found a no thanks I am full to work.
    – ggiaquin16
    Nov 16, 2017 at 16:44

If you aware that this is going to be the case then you can pre-empt it when ordering. You can let people know that you can't decide if you should have a main and a side dish, or a main and a pudding.

This sets up the expectation early that you understand that you cannot manage both.

Then when it comes to ordering you can show you have already decided not to have a pudding by ordering a main and a side dish. You can even mention that you prefer side dishes to puddings anyway.

Then when dessert choices arrive if the offer of dessert is still pushed on you then you have previous statements to back you up in their memory. You can let them know that you pre-decided to not have dessert and it will become more likely it will be accepted.

However, this does not always work as it is not the dessert they wish you to accept but instead their generosity. They want to show that they are willing to treat you, that they like you, that they want you to be happy. In these cases it is often best to acknowledge their generosity and kindness, thank them for it and accept something small as a gesture - for example a coffee (as a non dessert eater, I often have a coffee to 'join in' with the course).

Thank you. That is very generous of you. I enjoyed the meal so much that a dessert might ruin it because I am so full. I could manage a drink though, if that is ok?


If your host is really set on making you eat a dessert, you could probably offer to split your dessert with one of the other people you are eating with.

If you are with a multiple people who are close to you (close as in very friendly, not as in proximity) you could also state that you don't know which dessert to get and would just like a spoon so that you could try all of everyone else's.

Getting hot chocolate, coffee, or tea would also work (as stated by previous answers).


Skip the side or order a smaller main dish (or a second side dish as your entree). Save room for dessert and avoid the whole issue of being too full for it in the first place. Thus making it so you never make them feel awkward for eating alone. Bonus, you get to enjoy dessert.

Alternatively, you could step out for some fresh air or a smoke. You could excuse yourself to the powder room. This would only work a few times before it may be questioned.

Short of a medical condition though, someone with an irrational awkward feeling of having dessert when another is not, will not easily change their mind. A lie like gluten allergies now would make it likely you get caught in the future. You could say you are on a diet, but that can lead to more awkwardness as it may trigger self-confidence issues in them. A fake call may result in awkward questions.

In the end, you cannot effectively say no if you are concerned about their irrational feelings, real or imagined.

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