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Why do I Eat So Much at Parties?

Sometimes patients describe to me that when they are at a buffet, they try every single food. Or at a wedding reception, they eat everything on their plate. Or when ordering lunch on work's dime, they tend to order a lot of food. Invariably, people feel overfull and uncomfortable after these large portions of food. They ask the question: "Why do I feel compelled to try every single food and eat so much at a party or whenever there is different food."

party food

Food Scarcity Mindset Might Make You Eat a Lot When There is Special Food

Here is one reason why you might feel compelled to try every single food and eat more than usual when there is special food available. Many of us have a mindset of scarcity with food. The scarcity mindset with food is that food, or at least certain foods, will be used up never to be seen again. If that is how food is, of course it makes sense that you'll want to eat as much as you can now--this is your only chance!

If your home's kitchen is routinely stocked with food, and the foods you expect to be there are available basically all the time, you might not have this mindset at home on a regular day. But when there is a party, or an occasion to eat out, or any other special food that is not in your usual routine, the food scarcity mindset comes back.

What to do About Feeling Compelled to Eat All the Food

Next time you are at that restaurant and feeling full but still taking a few more bites, take a moment to think why you are eating more. Is there some thought that you better eat it now while you can? Or that you don't know when you will get a chance to have food like this again? Or that this food is somehow unique, and this opportunity won't come back again?

Noticing this is important if you want to reframe how you approach food. Noticing is not a magic solution. It just gives you pause each time to decide if indeed you won't get that chance again. It is true, you might never eat this exact dish again. But you can remind yourself that there will be another opportunity to enjoy special food after today. That can calm those thoughts of scarcity. It might not work every time, but it is something you can practice. With practice, you can change your mindset and behavior.

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