There are many reasons why eating in a large group may cause you to gain weight. Often the group is celebrating something, and the foods are rich, tempting, and plentiful.
Your first safeguard is to arrive prepared. Don't hold back for the event by skipping meals. Be good to yourself and eat healthy, low calorie meals the day of the event. If you arrive famished, it will be harder to control your eating.
When eating in groups, we tend to eat unconsciously. Be mindful of what you eat, and don't succumb to the group mentality. Don't eat more just because others do, or because your mind is on the conversation and not the food you are eating.
Don't grab for the nuts and hors d'oeuvres the moment you arrive. Grab some sparkling water or another non-caloric beverage instead, then after you've socialized for a while, take a few moments and glance over the food options.
Categorize them into high-calorie (cheeses, dips, fried foods, desserts) and low-calorie (fruits, vegetables, non-fried foods) options. Select one or two high-calorie options, and the rest low-calorie. Then sit down to eat and enjoy the food and conversation.
By being prepared and mindful of what you eat in large groups, you'll feel better about your choices. And they won't be hazardous to your health, or your waistline.
Megan Porter, RD