I don’t eat prior to speaking. Here’s why:
The fact that once — half an hour after eating — I urgently needed to leave the stage to use the bathroom swore me off that ever happening again!
But your hosts will likely urge you to eat, and they will be puzzled or even offended if you don’t. They might inaccurately assume you think their fare is inferior, or perhaps you are ill or antisocial.
I find that I must explain myself to some degree: “I tend to not eat before I speak. It works better for me that way. But thank you for the offer. Oh, you want to assemble a take-out plate for me? Thank you!”
Sometimes they say, “The buffet will still be set up after youre done speaking. You can eat then!” Call me uncooperative, but that doesn’t work for me either. I want to be available to talk with audience members, and if I’m permitted to sell books, I need to be at the book table.
Stop trying to make me eat!
Inform your hosts ahead of time that you won’t need a meal. If pressed, tell them that you perform better on an empty stomach.
At the table, join the action by accepting coffee or tea so you have some consuming body language going on.
Avoid lengthy explanations. Smile and say, “Thank you so much. For now, I’m fine.”