Every holiday or special occasion in the US has, at its center, plates of food. This is common around the world as well, although different cultures go about it differently. I will not go into how other cultures celebrate with food; I will focus on the US.
We like to have platters and plates of food available for grazing. You know what I’m talking about: plates of food stacked as high as you can without it tipping off the plate, eating it, and then returning to the food table for more. This goes on for hours until either it’s time to go home, or the food is gone. There’s no real reason for eating this much; it’s just something we do at these get-togethers.
I know about this all too well, because I was one of the “Big hitters” when it came to social gatherings. I was the guy who cleaned up plates, asking hosts if there was any more of a certain food left to eat. I could sometimes see the consternation on their faces as I ate at least 2-4 people’s worth of food. At least none of it went to waste; I never threw away uneaten food.
I am perfectly okay with food being at celebrations, but perhaps we need to stage the food and bring it out for the sit-down portion of any celebration. A meal time, like we do for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. This limits folks to an eating time and teaches our kids that food is not entertainment, but fuel. At special occasions, you can eat special foods with the people who are the most important in your life, but outside of that, food isn’t to be used as a means of having fun.
Even for me, it’s tough to be good at parties when there is an entire table of food in front of me. Even if it’s all Whole30 or Paleo compliant, it is very easy to over-eat (and I often do). Just because it’s good for me doesn’t mean I can have 2-4 times as much food as I normally would in the same amount of time. That’s not good for anyone.
This is just an idea. I’m not sure how it would go over with the people I know. When we do BBQ’s, we typically have some snacks out (healthy ones, mostly) and then we serve a meal. After the meal, the food is pretty much put away, but the fact remains that the snacks are typically out for hours before the meal. Guests come in, grab a plate, and go. Kids are notorious for hovering around the table, grazing and taking in as much as they can fit (and then some more). This isn’t doing the kids any favors and teaches them some bad habits. I know: I was the result of this kind of grazing.
I don’t know that we can fix society or our culture and how we use food to be the center of our social gatherings, but I hope this gives you something to at least think about and consider.