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The Art of Guilt-Free Dinner Parties | Have Fun Without Food Guilt

I love dinner parties. Always have. Always will. The only problem with going to dinner parties or hosting them is that I always end up eating more than I would like to eat. 

It all starts with the snaccidents that occur while cooking and preparing for the dinner party if I am hosting. By the time guests arrive, I’m already a few calories deep. Then the guests arrive and I lose all sense of self-control around food. I also have a hard time controlling my impulses around the snack table whether I am hosting a dinner party or not. 

The truth is that I get so caught up in the excitement of the evening and the conversations with family and friends that, for a few hours at least, I stop caring about how what I am eating or how much I am eating will affect my body. All I focus on is how much fun we’re having. 

I do the same when attending a dinner party as well. I walk in as my best self and walk out as my hedonistic, overfed self. 

Feelings of guilt often start to set in as soon as our guests leave or we get in the car to go home, but I don’t want to feel guilty about having fun and enjoying my life.

So, what is the main thing I have been trying to focus on when it comes to food and dinner parties? It is not trying to reduce the amount that I eat when at a dinner party. No. It is getting rid of the food guilt. 

I am a firm believer that your relationship with food is extremely important for your health. Over the past year, it has become easier and easier to eat and enjoy myself without feeling super guilty afterwards. 

It’s not completely gone, yet. But it is a lot better. If you struggle with food guilt and would like to kick it to the curb, here are a few tips that might help:

Practise Gratitude for Your Food 

So many people do not have enough food, and yet we feel terrible when we have perhaps eaten too much. Just having food to eat is already something you need to add to your daily gratitude list, and if the food you eat is healthy and you do not live in a food desert, you have a lot to be grateful for. 

If you had a slice cake at a birthday party or dessert at a dinner party, be grateful that you were able to spend this time with your family and friends. It is much harder to feel guilty if you focus on the good aspects around eating.

Remind Yourself That You Are Not A Bad Person for Overeating

Eating a slice of cake does not make you a bad person. Eating an entire slab of dark chocolate does not make you a bad person. The self-loathing surrounding food is really unnecessary. If you compare the act of overeating to stealing or kicking a puppy, is it really that bad? 

Make Most or All of The Foods Healthy

If you are hosting a dinner party, then you can make all of the meals healthy, including the dessert, which will eliminate a lot of the guilt. You might overeat a little, but at least you are not consuming foods that are bad for your body, and, as I said, see it as nutrient loading. Focus on the nutritional value of the foods you are eating and how your body will benefit from that. 

If most (or all) of the food you eat at a dinner party is guilt-free and healthy, then it can help cut out a lot of the guilt associated with the food you eat/ate at a dinner party. If you load your body with healthy nutrients and don’t overdo it on the processed foods, then your dinner party meal could count as nutrient loading. 

You can also offer to take the dessert to a dinner party, which is what I like to do because then, you do not have to worry about consuming sugar and can make a healthy dessert that you can eat on your preferred diet. Don’t know any healthy dessert recipes? Check out The Dessert Diet Club when you are done reading this article.

You can even talk to your friends and make it a challenge to only make healthy dishes if you want.

One of the best dinner parties I have ever attended was with a few work colleagues. We all agreed to bring a dish to the party (I brought dessert of course) and even though I did not ask, the others insisted on only bringing foods that were soy-, gluten-, and sugar-free because my husband Jonathan and I do not really want to consume these foods. 

Never Punish Yourself By Trying to Burn Off The Calories or Starving Yourself

While I am a big fan of practising intermittent fasting and doing it after days where I have overeaten, just to allow my body a bit more time to digest my food, I do not think it is a good idea to punish yourself by restricting your food and calorie intake, to go days without eating, or exercise excessively to try and burn off the excess calories. 

Let me tell you that it took me years to get rid of my impulse to start exercising to burn off the calories I consumed while bingeing. You do not want to go down that rabbit hole. If you are already in the habit of practising intermittent fasting frequently, then I am not opposed to fasting for 14 to 20 hours after overeating (depending on your regular intermittent fasting window), but you should then eat normally once you break your fast. 

Tell Ed to Shut Up

Ed is what I call that nagging internal voice that keeps telling me to eat and then starts panicking when I do. Ed is anxious and Ed loves food. I do too, but Ed loooves food. Ed is short for eating disorder, and we have battled since birth. While I never developed an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, I have been a binge eater my entire life. Ed is my inner food addict, but I have learned to tell Ed to shut up. 

Sometimes, when Ed starts trying to get me to do something that is not in-line with my goals, I just say: “Shut up Ed”. Then I try to think about something else. 

Dinner parties are fun and meant to be enjoyed. I am all for healthy and nutrient-dense meals at dinner parties, but leave Ed at home when you do go to a dinner party because Ed will just be a buzz kill and spoil the fun.