Panhandle Perspectives: Smart eating during the holidays

by Dave Osdiek | Nebraska Extension

One template for smart eating is MyPlate guidelines from USDA. Fill half the plate with colorful vegetables and fruits, one-fourth with protein, and one-fourth with grain.
November 16, 2021

Lincoln, Neb. —Healthy eating is important throughout the year, but the holidays create unique challenges.

The holidays can be notorious for rich foods and overeating. But with a commitment to stick to nutrition goals, New Year’s resolutions can focus on something other than weight loss.

Here are a few sensible tips for maintaining healthy practices through the holiday season.

Plan meals using MyPlate guidelines from USDA. Fill half the plate with colorful vegetables and fruits, one-fourth with protein, and one-fourth with grain. Choose whole grain whenever possible. Add low fat dairy options.

When preparing meals, choose healthy cooking methods. Plan to cook foods in healthy ways -- roast, steam, broil, grill, or bake. Limit added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.

At meals, manage portion sizes. Use a small plate and scan buffet lines to make sensible selections before filling the plate.

As you eat, be mindful. Eat slowly to enjoy your food and be aware of hunger and fullness cues. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to send signals of fullness. Use this time to connect with family at mealtimes.

When serving dessert, follow the three-bite rule. Use moderation when selecting those favorite foods that are high in calories, sugar, and fat. Three bites of a favorite dessert are enough to savor the flavors without feeling deprived or overindulging.

Choose healthy beverages. Alcohol is empty calories that provide minimal nutrition and may contribute to weight gain. Remember, water is the smartest drink. Add some flavor with a slice of cucumber or squeeze of lemon.

While enjoying the holidays, get moving. Involve the entire family in fun active games. Plan a few ten-minute routines, such as squats, lunges, and push-ups.

Additional information on healthy holiday eating can be found at:

Nebraska Extension's Food page:,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Healthy Living page:,

USDA's MyPlate page:

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