I hate having dinner with friends and then trying to be part of the conversation while my mouth is full. I end up sitting back and not saying much when I'm out with people because of this. Is there a better way to handle things?
Sharing a meal is a common way for people (friends, coworkers, and even romantic dates) to bond, so it's a good idea to get a handle on how to eat in front of your friends. Our Etiquette Guide suggests that you cut your food into small pieces that fit easily in your mouth. Then, "don’t put another bite into your mouth until you have swallowed what is already there."
By keeping the food small, you can swallow more frequently, which will give you opportunity to be part of the conversation. The same holds true for events where you're eating appetizers. Take one small bite and look for someone to make small talk with. Pop another small bite in your mouth while you give them time to respond to you.