Six-Step Holiday Eating Guide

This time of year is full of special celebrations: Halloween, el Día de los Muertos, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, the list goes on. All the foods that are served during these celebrations can fit into a healthy lifestyle. When preparing for the various celebrations this season has to offer, incorporate some of these small changes to make your meals a little healthier.


Create the ideal plate. Holidays are special and often involve special foods, but your meal can still include a balance of food groups.

  • Fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter plate with lean protein, and a quarter plate with grains.

  • Create a plate with a wider variety of foods by serving smaller portions of multiple foods from the same food group.




Prepare lean proteins. Meat and poultry can be significant sources of saturated fat. Consuming too much saturated fat increases the risk of developing heart disease.

  • Choose lean cuts of meat, such as chicken breasts, turkey breasts, beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin, and fish are low in saturated fat.

  • When cooking poultry, remove the skin to decrease saturated fat consumption.

  • Incorporate a wide variety of protein sources with low-fat dairy products, beans, eggs, and tofu.


Enjoy a wide range of foods. Serving a variety of foods at a holiday meal adds texture, visual appeal, and most importantly, a multitude of nutrients.

  • Create a simple charcuterie board with thinly sliced apples, grapes, nuts, low-fat cheeses, crackers, and olives.

  • Prepare an appetizer platter with colorful veggies, whole grain crackers, low-fat cheese, and hummus.

  • Add chopped nuts or seasoned chickpeas to a green salad.



Satisfy your sweet tooth. Make seasonal fruit the star of your dessert this fall adn winter in addition to your favorite holiday treats.

  • Bake apples and pears with cinnamon and serve with a sprinkle of granola and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

  • Make a fruit salad with chopped apples, pears, citrus fruits, and pomegranate seeds; add a squeeze of fresh orange juice to preserve the fruit until it’s time to serve.

  • If you have a favorite dessert that you look forward to every year, plate up a serving and savor every bite.Grab a container and take home a leftover serving to enjoy the next day-- it will still taste just as good.



Get creative with leftovers. Remember, you can enjoy a dish more than once! Save leftovers so you can enjoy them the following day, or find creative ways to repurpose leftover dishes.

  • Make potato pancakes from mashed potatoes.

  • Use leftover bones and meat to create soups and stews, or place cuts of meat on a sandwich between slices of whole grain bread.

  • Top a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt parfait with leftover cranberry sauce.

  • Combine leftover vegetables, eggs, and whole wheat flour to make vegetable fritters.


Make time for movement. Holidays are about more than just a celebratory meal; they’re about making time to be present with loved ones.

  • Catch up with family and friends by going for a post-dinner walk-and-talk in your neighborhood.

  • Encourage kids-- and young-at-heart adults-- to play outside, weather permitting.