Let’s get real about restaurants and food anxiety!
Dining out is supposed to be a FUN way to catch up with friends and family. The goal is to go out and be SO present with our loved ones—bond over good food, endless laughter and great quality conversation. However, food anxiety is an unavoidable dark storm cloud looming over so many of us.
I can’t count the hours I’ve lost stressing over what I’m going to order. We stop thinking about the JOY and get stuck on: Will it be too greasy? Will I overeat and ruin my day tomorrow? Will I have one too many drinks? I so get it—this has been me!
That’s why at NAO our mission is to arm you with the tools that will allow you to be present and mindful, and truly enjoy the ride.
A few of my top tips:
- I shift my mindset to enjoying the overall experience/people, rather than just thinking about the food. That’s almost always the main objective when eating out, anyways! It helps take the pressure off of getting the ‘perfect meal.’ I stay grounded by taking time for conversation, enjoying the scenery, and thinking about how nice it is to have a meal cooked for you!
- NEVER skip meals to ‘save’ your calories for dinner. You are more likely to overeat as a result. When your body starts worrying you might not feed it, your ability to pause and make clear decisions that you’re proud of diminishes drastically. Your body’s survival mode will take over!
- I love looking at the menu ahead of time if I can. I pick the meal that looks the most appealing and stick with it, so I don’t have menu fatigue when I get there, and I can just focus on my beautiful company.
- On a similar note, NEVER go into a meal with a mindset that you won’t eat again after. If you decide you want something that feels overly indulgent, know that once you’re full, you can stop and eat the rest later if you’re hungry again. When we start threatening future restriction on ourselves, our instinct is to get it all in now.
- Bottomless…water, please! Staying hydrated throughout the day and at your meal out is so key. It will help you to drink and eat more mindfully–sometimes dehydration masks as hunger.
- Dessert and Alcohol – Consciously choose (and savour!) it. If you want it, then allow yourself to mindfully enjoy it (in moderation.)
- That said, if you know you’re already full/if you know it’s going to make you feel sick (or any food will!) cause you to feel sick, think twice before having it. You can always have that extra glass of wine or after-dinner slice of cake another time! This isn’t your last chance.
- If you’re feeling stressed or see yourself starting in patterns that don’t feel great, feel free to excuse yourself to the bathroom or step outside for a “call,” so you can a nice pause and silence to get straight with yourself.
- And, of course, go to dinner with people you can be yourself with, who will put you at ease, and be your champions, as much as you can.