Here are a few ways to help you and your guests stay more in the present and enjoy eating without going overboard at your holiday party.

Hosting a gathering of loved ones this season? Here are a few ways to help you and your guests stay more in the present and enjoy eating without going overboard at your holiday party.


The holidays are hands down one of the best times of the year.  Showing gratitude and creating memories over a home-cooked meal with family and friends – what could be better?  However, the food-centric holidays can also bring a dark cloud of internal conflict of what and what not to eat.  The good news?  

There’s a way to enjoy your favorite fare without overdoing it, and without relying on deprivation.

Did you know…we make over 200 food decisions per day? Of course, it doesn’t feel like we make 200 food decisions because many of these decisions are made subconsciously. Our environment has a significant impact on these subconscious food choices. And unfortunately, most of our food environments are often constructed in a way the promotes mindless overconsumption of low quality, nutrient-deplete foods.  

If you’re setting up a holiday party, here’s how you can alter your food environment that works in everyone’s favor.

1. Size Matters

Studies have found that no matter the plate size, consumers prefer their plates to be 70-75% full – anything less than that appears to be a skimpy portion. So offer a smaller plate option: you’ll serve yourself less food, the portion will appear more generous, and you will feel more satiated and satisfied – the perfect formula for enjoying more without overdoing it!

2. Color & Contrast

The color of your plate can also create an optical illusion that causes “portion distortion”.  One study asked consumers to serve themselves spaghetti with marinara sauce on a white plate and on a red plate of equal size.  The results?  The consumers served themselves larger portions when using the red plate.  Why?  The red plate and the red marinara sauce blur together, making it difficult for the human eye to gauge how much food is on the plate. So remember to have plates that create the highest contrast between the plate and your food.

3. Utensils

You guessed it – when it comes to utensils, size matters again!  Using smaller utensils forces you to take smaller bites, and smaller bites means it is going to require more bites in total to complete the meal.  This is doubly beneficial because taking smaller bites: (1) allows for more time to digest and register your satiety level before going back for seconds; and (2) increases satiety and satisfaction – the more bites you get to take, the more opportunity to chew, savor, and enjoy your food!

4. Make it a Self-serving Buffet

How the meal is set up can also influence how you serve yourself and how much you eat. Studies have found that those who serve themselves from a counter or stovetop consumed 19% less food than those who sat at a table with the full spread sitting right in front of them.  

5. Plate Placement

Strategically place the plates at the far end of the buffet line, forcing guests to walk by each dish as they go to fetch their plate.  Doing a “drive by” will give everyone the opportunity to scope out their options, be proactive, and make more informed decisions on how they plan to allocate their plate’s real estate.

6. Set the Mood.

Dim the lights, but not too much!  Bright light (think fast food chains) promotes speed eating, while a softly lit room will encourage your guests to slow down and enjoy the meal.  Avoid making it too dark, as studies have found dining in the dark creates a false feeling of “invisibility”, causing guests to overeat as if they are hidden and nobody is watching.

7. Play some beats.  

As for music, keep it mellow to encourage a slow and steady eating pace.  This is not the time to jam out to your favorite HIIT tracks!

Walk away from a delicious holiday meal with a well-nourished body, a comfortably full belly, a heart bursting with gratitude, and a peaceful mind where your food-loving and mindful eating ambitions can live in harmony.

For more helpful tips, head over to the original article.

Lindsey Kane, MS, RD, LDN is a San Francisco-based Registered Dietitian helping others live a stress-free, balanced, and thriving life. By getting to know her clients inside and out, Lindsey identifies the opportunities within their everyday lifestyle to integrate subtle changes that create lasting, impactful results. Learn more at Bite For Change!

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