Social Overeating

Home-made peach cobblers for the fall. Unsplash - Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian

With fall around the corner (or so Starbucks says), and the holidays fast approaching, you might be reflecting more on your social eating habits and behaviors.

In the height of the pandemic, we were in full control of everything we put into our bodies. No parties, no barbeques, no donuts in the breakroom, just us and our kitchen. And while we all joked about the baking and snacking that went on then, we had far less choices and decisions to make around food.

Less choices meant less decisions, and less decisions meant less opportunity to eat past fullness or in an uncomfortable way.

So, today we’re going to tackle 3 Tips to Stay on Path even in social, food settings.

1. Choose Your Choices:

It feels like an oxymoron, I know but hear me out. A large reason why we overeat at a party or out at dinner is because there are so many options. The dessert table is filled with cookies, cakes, and fruit and the restaurant table has bread, calamari, chips and dip all before your entree comes out.

There are so many choices and you’re left battling it out in your head, “Will I have another chip?” “Definitely not going to eat the bread.” “Just the fruit salad for me, no cake.” “Well, maybe just one piece of cake… And now I have to try a cookie… Might as well have a slice of the pie too.” “If the chips are in front of me, I’ll eat it and once I start I can’t stop.”

All of these thoughts going on simultaneously leave you mentally burnt out. You literally have no decision-making power left and the magnetic pull to food starts. The problem isn’t the food itself, you truly can eat whatever you want, but the way you walk away feeling uncomfortable and unhappy.

Start by decreasing the decisions you have to make. Survey the food scene as soon as you can. See cake and it’s your favorite? Cool! Have a piece and save any other dessert for the next day or make some later. Overwhelmed by the appetizers at the table? Make a decision to put a little of everything on your small plate, eat it slowly, and move on.

Make a decision prior to eating, call it your plan, stick to it, and move on. No mental battle with each bite.

2. Take a Social Break

Over the years I’ve studied my clients’ social eating behaviors and my own.

Coming from a person who is naturally extraverted, I never thought I knew what social exhaustion was until I saw myself in my clients.

Food often is used as a crutch, a form of comfort, mental relief, and a personal “break.” In social settings, we put so much time and attention, and mental energy on the people around us, the way we give back to ourselves is often through another chip or cookie.

Woman sitting outside with a cup of coffee during the fall.

Taking social breaks is a great way to provide yourself with the same comfort, mental relief, and moment to yourself to recharge. This can be 5 minutes in the bathroom practicing deep breathing or a brief step outside to rejuvenate.

3. 5 Second Mindset Reminder

5-second mindset reminders will change your life. Dramatic but true. Taking 5 seconds mid-food reach can help you check in with yourself and do what truly feels best to your body.

“How will another piece of cake make me feel? Do I need it or am I eating it out of comfort? Will a 2-minute mental break make me feel better”

“I can have this anytime, I don’t need to overeat it now if I don’t want to.”

“If I eat another cookie now, I’ll feel uncomfortable and have trouble sleeping.”

“Just because the chips and dip are in front of me, doesn’t mean I have to eat it. I can eat the portion that feels best to me and stop so I better enjoy my evening and my entree.”

These mindset reminders truly only take 5 seconds and dramatically change how you feel at the end of the night!

Try these tips at your next social event! Remember that practice makes progress and that’s where the focus should be on this journey!


With my clients, I focus on shifting habits without restricting or counting calories to achieve sustainable weight loss or weight maintenance. We use practical nutrition so we can live life and feel our best!

Follow me on Instagram @Practical.Nutritionist and TikTok, or subscribe to my YouTube channel to stay up to date on the latest health tips and recipes! Or find me here: livingwithleena.com

If you’re ready to dive deep into your habits and feel confident about your choices surrounding food again, book a free consultation with me here!

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