Defensive Eating: Five Ways to Avoid Sharing

Because you’re hungry—and it’s yours

A few weeks back, Grubstreet New York published an “Eight-Point Plan for Persuading Dining Companions to Order Exactly What You Want,” which is fantastically handy and helpful—unless you’re the “dining companion” on the receiving end of its wisdom. Small (and large) plates meant for sharing can be a fun way to try new things, but ordering a bunch of items for the table can also mean someone’s going home hungry. Not in the mood for that someone to be you? These five tips—developed secretly over time by one staffer’s sweet but plate-protective husband—should help

1. Say you haven’t eaten all day

If there’s one thing your wife wants more than the French Fries with Truffle Oil on the outskirts of your plate, it’s to appear highly concerned that your daily dietary needs have been met. Put it out there early that you’re desperate for a large meal (all to yourself).

2. Suggest you’re under the weather

No one—not even people who live with you—wants to catch your fake flu/cold/cough/sore throat/headache.

3. Put tableware on Defense

Sure, subtly arranging your bread plate and drinking glass—hell, even the vase, if there is one—in a fort-like structure around your food can be awkward, but not as awkward as having to navigate a fork around it to “steal” a few bites of salad.

4. Ask your dining companion what they already ate that day, then order the meal on the menu that most closely resembles their answer

To pull this off, simply add, “That sounds really good.”

 5. Order the most fattening thing on the menu

This one could backfire, because even health-conscious eaters buckle when faced with fried chicken or mac ‘n’ cheese, but with risk comes reward: It’ll probably taste great.