Why do we eat more at a BBQ?

It’s blooming cold today. I’m sat here and my hands are freezing. How mad is that? It goes from lovely sunny weather to freezing cold and raining. How are you supposed to plan anything? It’s meant that we’ve had a real mixed bag of food this week. Because you know what it’s like when it’s freezing cold outside, you don’t really want a salad. When it’s boiling hot outside, you don’t really want something like a casserole. We eat according to the weather.

There will be lots of BBQ coming up now, the weather’s getting warmer. There’s something special about a BBQ? I don’t know about you, but we like a proper charcoal BBQ. But here’s a question, why is it when you have a BBQ you eat more than you’d eat in an average sitting? For example, when you have fish and chips you’ll have a piece of fish and some chips on the plate., and maybe a side such as some peas? You have whatever’s on your plate and afterwards you’re satisfied. When you’re having a BBQ you eat much more. A sausage, a burger, a kebab, some of the nice grilled halloumi, or whatever takes your fancy. Then……. another sausage, maybe another burger?

There are probably a lot more reasons behind that than I am aware of. But I do know that sensory specific satiety plays a part. This is basically the buffet effect because the same thing happens when you go to a buffet. You have some sandwiches, and there’s a bit of French stick with some cheese on, and you’d have some crisps and some sausage rolls and some coleslaw. Then you finish what you’ve got on the plate and you go back for seconds, which is absolutely fine. Your brain doesn’t really catch up to the fact that you’ve had enough of any one type of food.

sensory specific satiety

So, let’s go back to the plate of fish and chips. You’ll have enough fish for you to feel satisfied, and you’ll have enough chips, but when you’re having things on a buffet the foods are alot smaller. You might have a little cocktail, sausage roll, a little cocktail, sausage, and then you might switch and have a mini roll, and then you might switch and you’ll have something else sweet, and the taste is always changing and the flavor is always changing in your mouth.

Sensory specific satiety is all about whether or not you’ve had the chance to feel satisfied with what you’ve eaten. It’s my assumption that the same thing must happen on a BBQ.

Then if you’re on a diet, afterwards come the negative feelings, the guilt, the wishing you hadn’t eaten it all, the thinking about what you’re going to eat tomorrow to make up for that. And so I think going into this summer we should make a pledge between us to be more compassionate with ourselves around events like this.

Food is for eating, and good food is to be enjoyed

There's nothing wrong with eating the food that you really want

There is nothing wrong with eating as much food as you want to eat at a BBQ. If it makes you satisfied and you haven’t restricted that’s perfect. That’s all I would ask of somebody, because it’s easy, to turn these things into a diet friendly version. 

For example, you might get a coleslaw, or you might get a super low fat version because your slimming club tells you to. What diet coleslaw has ever hit the spot like a decent coleslaw? None, because it’s always made low-fat yogurt or something. You can make some really good homemade coleslaws, and if you have a spoon or two may be enough because it tastes so good. Yet because you make the diet coleslaw and you put that on your plate, you feel like you have to have more of it to feel satisfied.

Now, I would rather have a plate that is not diet club friendly, and feel happy that I had had some good quality food, that I’d enjoyed my meal, that I’d enjoyed the event, rather than have a plate where I’ve tried to scrape everything back to diet club standards.

You don't have to worry about nutrition

So go to that BBQ, fill your boots, have the food that you want to have and know that overall your diet is good, and that meal that you’re having that time, that you’re having with friends, with family sat in the sun on your own if you want to, that moment is way more important than considering what is on your plate. 

Nutrition does not have to be the focus of every meal. It’s good, once you are out of diet culture to have an understanding of nutrition and of more nutritious foods and how they feel in your body but hey, this is a long path that a lot of us have to walk and it takes a long time to just get your head out of the dieting game, and that’s way more important than considering the nutrition.

You can listen to the podcast episode on this right here. If you want to listen to more of my ramblings pop over to the podcast page and find something that interests you.

Please note, this post is intended to be general information only. Every care has been taken to ensure that facts and figures are correct at the time of posting. As always, please seek the support of a registered professional before making changes to your diet or lifestyle⁠, or if you feel that you are affected by any of the topics discussed. 

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