the food freedom lab podcast 107

107. How To Intuitively Eat At Parties

November 23, 2022

Ryann Nicole

Hi, I’m Ryann.

Your Not-So-Average Food Freedom Therapist & Virtual Coach. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Nutritionist with a BA in Psychology, and a MA in Professional Counseling, yes I do a little of the "so how does that make you feel".

But my ultimate goal is to provide you with the resources you need, in an easy-to-understand way, on healing your disordered relationship with food and your body. 

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How are the holidays almost here?! WHAT!  This year has flown by, and I don’t know about you, but this is the first year since COVID that I have had non-virtual holiday parties on the calendar again.  *weird statement* And ironically, as I was thinking about this, I was asked an extremely relevant question that I just  had to bring to the podcast:

Hi, Ryann! I have a question. I have a hard time eating intuitively at a party with friends, and there are snacks. I cannot stop eating chips and peanuts even if I'm full. Do you have any advice on that? I love your content. Thanks for everything you do ♥️.


The Food Freedom Lab Podcast

Episode 107

Thank YOU for this question, and yes, I have so much advice to help you break through the chaos around snack food at parties so you can enjoy your parties – food obsession free! 

So let’s start unpacking this question by breaking it into 2 parts. 

First, I want to validate the statement, ‘I have a really hard time eating intuitively when I am at a party with friends, AND there are snacks’

Even though intuitive eating is innate (AKA it is something you knew how to do from birth and It wasn't something you needed to be taught), when you are relearning how to listen to your body's needs, it is hard, especially when you are in a new environment. 

The first thing I want you to ask yourself is this: “How often am I going to parties?” 

  • If the answer is “not very often.” Could it be that you are still learning how to eat intuitively at parties? 
  • If the answer is “very often.” Could it be that you haven't thought about implementing your skills at parties? 

Give yourself some time. It might take a few more parties to figure out what works best for you. 

It will take practice when you are healing from disordered eating or obsessive dieting and stepping into intuitive eating. This might just be one of those situations where it's like, “Okay, I don't go to parties all the time, so I just need a little more practice staying connected to my body when there are so many distractions.” 

Okay, the second part:

When you say, ‘I can’t stop eating, even if I’m full,’ I want you to know that struggling to stop eating isn’t the problem. It's just a symptom. What you are experiencing is less about the food and more about what is triggering this behavior. I invite you to dig deeper by asking yourself these 5 questions.

01. How often are you allowing foods like chips and peanuts regularly? 

I want you to ask this because it could be that you only allow yourself to be around these foods and eat them at parties.

Therefore, it makes sense that those forbidden morsels of salty goodness are all you can think about when you're in this environment! You don't get them all the time, meaning they feel extremely special when they are around. 

If you're not regularly allowing chips and peanuts, your scarcity mindset will likely be triggered. And when you have one bite BAM.. all of a sudden, your thoughts go to ‘you better eat all these snacks now because TOMORROW – not doing this. Tomorrow, you're going to be ‘good’ again.’


So what do you do if this is you? Let's start adding chips and peanuts to your meals and snacks regularly! Like… 

  • Make chips the side dish to your meal OR
  • Layer some chips into your sandwich for a bit of added crunch  
  • How about adding some peanuts to your salad?
  • You could also toss some peanuts on top of your usual yogurt bowl
  • ORRR, something I just did that was amazing. Put peanuts into your stir fry!

As counterintuitive as it seems, if you allow yourself these snacks regularly, they will no longer be all-consuming (literally and figuratively) when you’re at parties. 

02. When you go to these parties, how are you eating the chips and peanuts? 

Are you putting the snack on a plate and sitting down to eat them, or are you grabbing a handful here and a handful there as you walk past the snack table?

Weird question, I know… But I want you to ask yourself this because if you answer that, you’re just grabbing handfuls… there could be some mindlessness in allowing yourself to listen to your body. 

When we are eating, but our mind is elsewhere… Your mouth may be chewing, but it's going to feel like you never ate the food. You’re missing that body-to-brain connection as the eating is happening so distractedly. 

So what do you do if this is you? Let’s practice putting those snacks on a plate or napkin at the party! 

And if you want more after what you grabbed, you can grab another plateful!! This isn't about limiting yourself. It's about bringing in some mindfulness. As Geenen Roth says, it's impossible to be compulsive and mindful simultaneously. Are you feeling compulsive? Let's get mindful and put those snacks on a plate! 

03. Could you just need a real meal?? 

In other words, could the inability to stop snacking on chips and peanuts be your body asking for more food, and the snacks just aren’t cutting it?

Sometimes at parties, snacks (like chips and peanuts) can take the place of eating a real, nourishing, and filling meal. And after snacking, even though you may feel ‘full’ from the snacks, you might not be satisfied because your body might have just needed a little more. 

So what do you do??

  • If you know a meal won't be served, eat before
  • If you didn't realize a meal wasn't going to be served, make a plan for where /how you're going to get a meal after 

04. Where is your mind during the party?? 

Are there any thoughts along the lines of 

  • This is bad; ill be better tomorrow 
  • F-it, I already blew it. I'm just going to keep eating 
  • I don't care. I'll listen to my body tomorrow

If you still categorize food as good/bad, clean/dirty, healthy/unhealthy… It is really easy to fall into f-it mode (aka I don't care, I just want the food) 

So how do you handle this??? 

For the party… 

Go into the party with positive reframes at the top of your mind

  • Stressing over food isn't the life I want 
  • Regardless of the situation, I can always listen to my body 
  • I can choose foods that make me feel my best anywhere  

Challenging destructive thinking 

  • Nope, not thinking like that 

For after the party… 

Continue working towards healing your relationship with food. It will be a lot easier to manage your mind at parties if you working on your mindset when you're not at parties 

05. How do you feel emotionally at parties?

Yep, emotions matter. And I'm not just saying this because I am a therapist. Think about it… If you feel emotionally vulnerable or triggered at the party, you may use food to cope. 

If that’s the case, let’s work on healthier coping mechanisms and a game plan for handling your discomfort in social situations like these…

Coping skills might be 

  • Breathing 
  • Grounding 
  • Talking to yourself 

A game plan might be keeping a note in your phone for…

  • If I feel triggered by the snacks at a party, I will… 
  • Or, if I notice myself struggling to listen to my fullness at parties, I will…
  • If I catch my mind falling into an f-it mentality, I will… 
  • If I am struggling at the party, I will… 

To Summarize:

  1. How often am I allowing myself these snacks regularly? 
  2. How am I eating the snacks at parties? 
  3. Could I just need a real meal?
  4. Where is my head going
  5. Where are my emotions? 

The solution to feeling unfazed by party snacks is two-fold. 

1. Let’s validate, validate, VALIDATEEEEE that learning how to intuitively eat at parties might just take more practice and 

2. Let’s get curious about where some deeper healing might still need to happen. That takes time. Be patient and kind to yourself as you work through this process. 

What might happen if…

What might happen if, instead of judging yourself for how you feel about snack food at parties, we continue normalizing that snack food?

And what might happen if we use these experiences as opportunities to reflect so we can keep healing?

We don't know until you try! 

Disclaimer: If you have or suspect that you have an eating disorder, be sure to get in touch with a qualified healthcare professional immediately. If you are in the United States and experiencing a medical or health emergency, please call 911 or call for appropriate emergency medical help. 

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