Holiday Party Tips to Avoid Mindless Eating

Written by UConn Dietetics Student Isabelle Wlodkowski

The holiday season means gathering with friends and family, but it can also mean eating more than we usually do. At holiday gatherings foodholiday meal is often at arm’s length and one can easily be consuming more than they even realize. The food served is typically, higher in sugar or fat than what most families eat the rest of the year. It is important to pay attention to how much and what types of foods you are consuming at gatherings.

Here are some tips and easy strategies to avoid

mindless eating during the holiday season*

  1. Think about portion size-When placing food on your plate—whether an appetizer, entrée, or dessert—think about how much food it really is. Is the portion you took smaller than your closed fist? Is it two times the size of your closed fist? If the latter is true, it’s probably too large of a portion size. Try to become accustomed to taking a small amount on your plate and have seconds if you’d like to do that.
  2. Pick your favorites first- When presented with multiple food choices at a buffet table, prepare yourself to take small portions of what you think are your favorites. Avoid putting a serving of each item on your plate just because all the options are in front of you. Doing that often encourages finishing all the food even if you don’t really desire it.
  3. Bring an appetizer you’ve made to share- This is a great idea because you know exactly what ingredients are in it. If you’ve chosen to bring raw veggies and dip, you have a low calorie “go-to” for much of the evening, especially if you are trying to maintain your weight during the holiday season.
  4. Keep a drink in your hand- Stay hydrated! Keep a cup of water or seltzer in your hand to sip on during the gathering. Staying hydrated can help curb hunger cravings and holding a non-alcoholic, hydrating drink is a bonus. If your hands are full, you may find you reach for food less often.
  5. Limit Temptation- Sitting or standing next to the buffet table can encourage mindless eating. Simply positioning yourself away from the buffet table can help encourage you to make a conscious decision when to walk over and get more food.
  6. Savor what you have- be a mindful eater. As you eat, try to think about the flavor, smell, and texture of the food you are consuming. This can also help you eat more slowly and be able to realize when you are getting full (2).

*Tips 1-5 Adapted from Today’s Dietitian magazine online December 2015 Issue. Accessed November 14, 2021

table with plates and people

Check out this healthy, holiday appetizer! A great recipe to use to increase your veggie intake during the holidays!

Sweet Potato Crostini 

Yield 6-8

Ingredients sweet potato crosini

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 (12-oz.) wheel brie, cut into 1″ slices
  • 1/3 c. pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, cut into small pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and line a medium cooking sheet with parchment paper. Slice potatoes into 1/2-inch rounds, toss with olive oil and season with salt. Place on a baking sheet and bake until tender, 15 to 20 minutes depending on thickness.
  2. Flip potatoes and top with brie, pecans and cranberries, and finish with a sprig of rosemary.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 more minutes more, or until the brie is melty.
  4. Serve warm.



  1. Orenstein, B. (2015, December). Maintaining weight loss over the holidays. Today’s Dietitian. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from
  2. Suttie, J. (2012, December). Four Tips for Mindful Eating over the Holidays. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from


This material is funded by UDSA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity employer.