How to Practice Mindful Eating at Parties

How to Practice Mindful Eating at Parties

When you’re at a social function, thinking about mindful eating might feel like an extra task. But with these simple tips, you can allow room for awareness and presence to naturally flourish, while still enjoying the gathering.

As with any lifestyle practice, it’s best to adopt these tips gradually, aiming for small change. Over time, it will become second nature for mindful eating to be your plus-one at every event.

1. Eat Before You Leave

One of the simplest ways to control your appetite at a party is to take charge before you even arrive.
Clifford points out that people often think, “I’m going to a party where I’ll eat a lot, so I won’t eat until I get there.” But when you show up with this mindset—and an empty stomach—you create the opportunity for ravenous eating.
Keeping yourself well-fed before the event will prevent you from grazing throughout the gathering.

2. Bring the Snacks

It’s tricky to attend a party when you don’t know what’s on the menu. Plus, depending on the host or event, you might already expect a variety of calorie-laden sweets and dishes, like your Uncle Tom’s “famous” tuna casserole.

Clifford suggests offering to bring a healthy snack like a veggie tray with hummus, olives or salsa to the gathering. By contributing nutritious options to the party, you’ll be able to enjoy healthy foods. Plus, showing up with a dish, you’re showing your thanks to the host for their hospitality.

Obviously, when it comes to events like weddings, this isn’t the most appropriate move. In these situations, eating a pre-party snack or making special requests (if allowed) will make all the difference.

3. Mingle Away from Food

Often, hosts serve food buffet-style so guests can fill up as they please. And while this makes it easy to personalize your meal, the open format of a buffet also makes it easy to thoughtlessly graze as you chat.

The solution: Walk away. Invite the other person to sit elsewhere so you can properly catch up and enjoy your food. By taking a second to re-locate yourself and your companion, you can avoid mindlessly refilling your plate as you mingle.
4. Eat Slowly

Thanks to the high energy of social gatherings, it can be tempting to nosh on hors d’oeuvres as quickly as the champagne flows. But when you take the time to chew and eat slowly you’ll have more control over your eating behaviors.

When you eat food, your gut releases satiety hormones like peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1. These hormones reduce your appetite by telling your brain that it’s time to stop eating. They also work to decrease ghrelin, commonly known as the “hunger hormone.”

The catch? It takes about 20 minutes for these signals to reach your brain. When you eat slowly, you’ll give it enough time to receive these hormonal messages.

While you’re at it, use this time to truly savor the food. Pay attention to the flavor, texture and aroma. Notice how you feel. With these simple check-ins, you’ll automatically be more in tune with the food you’re eating.

5. Drink Water

We all know staying hydrated is vital whether you’re lounging at home or sweating in spin class, but when it comes to social gatherings, drinking water can completely transform your eating behaviors throughout the event. Water increases the feeling of fullness and helps reduce food intake. Plus, dehydration can mask itself as hunger, so try sipping on H2O before and during the party. If you’re truly hungry, you’ll still feel the hunger after drinking water.

For many people, eating at parties is also a habit born out of nerves. Grabbing and eating food gives them something to do with their hands while making small talk or standing alone between conversations. If that’s the case, holding and drinking a glass of water can act as a stand-in for those jalapeño poppers you can’t stop popping.

It will take time to master these habits. There are many factors to consider, including your current eating behaviors and the types of events you attend, but as you repeatedly put these practices to work, you’ll eventually find a style of mindful eating that works for you.

At some point, you may experience peer pressure from other people (“You have to try my cake!”). Some might also get offended if you don’t taste the food they brought. In these cases, Clifford says that honesty is the best policy.
“Depending on who the people are, consider telling them about your goals,” recommends Clifford. “[Tell them] that you would really appreciate their support.” You may be surprised at how most people respond.

In the end, eating is multifaceted. It’s more than just physical fuel; it’s a social, cultural and emotional experience. And when you make the effort to connect with each of these aspects, you’ll be able to eat, drink and be merry in the most mindful way possible.

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