Reverse Hospitality – do we please the hostess or the guest??

September 12, 2013 BY: LISA

A lot of my clients say they have the hardest time refusing food when it has been prepared by friends and family, fearing they will offend the hostess if they say no to the food that is offerred.

I have had many a discussion re the rights, wrongs and responsibilities that arise  in these social situations.

My argument:

If you are going to someone’s house as their guest we have the responsibility to be polite and courteous and they have the responsibility of being hospitable, a good host and  often this means providing us food to eat.

We have the right to feel comfortable in their home and they have the right to also feel comfortable and relaxed when they entertain.

The issue comes in when guests feel compelled to eat food they don’t want to eat or in larger quantities than they are comfortable to eat all to avoid disrespecting their hostess.

A lot of European clients say there are repercussions if they do not eat everything that is offered even if it will make them feel unwell from over eating or disappointed and guilty about breaking  the healthy eating cycle they are trying to establish.

My opinion in this case is that the hostess is no longer thinking about the rights of her guests if she is overriding their decisions re the food they eat while they are in her home. The hostess then becomes the all important person to please when actually the whole idea of having guest into your home is about pleasing your guest. Or have I got it wrong??

The idea of having to over eat just to please someone who has invited you as a guest into their home to me is actually reverse hospitality. The hostess is then asking you to come to their home to please her rather than you going to her home to enjoy her hospitality and good food.

How do you get around a pushy hostess?

One great suggestion I heard years ago was to say “No thank you, I’m not hungry anymore.” It’s a very pushy hostess who would say “Oh, just stuff it in any way!”

The other great way to make sure you don’t offend your hostess while you are refusing to over eat the food on offer is to say it with a compliment.

“You are truly a magnificent cook, and I have tasted a little of everything and I am now perfectly satisfied, thank you so much.”

How can anyone take offense at that?

What about preparing  your hostess- of your intention to eat less than usual- in advance when you accept the invitation. “Thank you I/we would love to come, please don’t go to too much trouble I am eating a lot less these days and don’t want to offend you by not eating everything on offer.”

In the end no one can make you eat what you don’t wish to eat unless they are going to open your mouth and put the food in for you – hopefully your friends and family are not that pushy!

So next time you come across a pushy host be prepared with your compliments and your assertiveness skills and defend your right to eat what you would like- this is your right as a guest.


Lisa APD


All enquiries, Lisa 0413 956 107 Appointments 1300 725 806
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