For years, I’ve been a strong advocate for “pre-eating.” In fact, years ago, I submitted several alternate entries for Urban Dictionary. Since then, I’ve noted with pride that the shame previous associated with the practice has mostly disappeared. Many people do it without realizing how many others are doing it, too.
For perfectionists out there, I concede that if you eat prior to a social engagement and then fail to eat during said engagement that you are no longer “pre-eating.” Instead, you are simply eating. Noted.
It is a very complex process, so here it is:
Before any social engagement where eating is an integral aspect of the function, eat until you are mostly satisfied BEFORE going to the social event. That’s it – I was just kidding about how complicated it is.
Does your sister-in-law routinely prepare food after shaving her 6 dogs on top of the stove? Do the dishes at your cousin’s house look like they were rejects from a Hoarders Episode? Are your friends crazy vegans? If you are a woman (or weird guy) concerned with her weight or concerned with other people’s perceptions of your eating habits, “pre-eating” is the recommended course. The focus is on regaining control of your own dining. Without shame or remorse.
Pre-eating takes away the thrill of possibly fainting from lack of food. It puts the control directly in your hands about when and what you eat. It eliminates the doubt about every variable. Granted, if you pre-eat, you can still eat lightly at the social engagement in question. But you don’t have to arrive and then begin to fantasize about eating the napkins, or grown increasingly concerned once you discover that the main course is a half-cooked mongoose served on bamboo shoots. You are covered in either scenario.
Likewise, if you misjudge how much you should have eaten, there are few things more rewarding than an unplanned run to Taco Bell or McDonalds.
Pre-eating works at Thanksgiving, for birthdays, or even parties. There is no shame in eating before arriving. The host has already spent the money and prepared the food – technically, you haven’t deprived them of any money or enjoyment. The point of a social engagement is conversation, sharing company and enjoying moments together. The food is secondary. It is NEVER a good idea to get so hungry that the social function becomes a distraction to the question “Is it time to eat yet?”
Pre-eating also works for business lunches, suppers and dinners. All of us have been invited (or ordered!) to attend a business lunch or supper. But we often don’t control the place, time or specifics. Who hasn’t been seated, only to find out 2 hours later that your main course was just accidentally snatched from the kitchen by wild dogs? Since it is a professional setting, you can’t do like you would normally do and start kicking and crying, begging the waiter to bring you a slice of white bread and dab of butter – before you either pass out or imagine strangling someone else and taking their food from their hands. Who hasn’t been to business luncheon with the promise of food, only to find 6 packages of crackers and a block of dried Parmesan cheese on the table, with 9 pairs of hungry eyes secretly jockeying for position to both act disinterested while simultaneously planning the best method to poke the next guy in the eyeball with an umbrella if you don’t get your share?
Pre-eating: take control.