Create your Balanced Plate: Holiday Edition

by | Nov 19, 2018 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

As the holiday season quickly approaches, we are presented with some challenges in the form of holiday dinners, parties, and of course, treats! It can be tough to figure out how to balance enjoying your favorite holiday meal while still sticking with those healthy habits you’ve established. But never fear – in this post we’re going to sharing with you our go to template to create your balanced holiday plate!

Here’s our favorite template to use at holiday dinners:


Your protein should make up about a quarter of your plate.  If it’s dark meat or red meat it should be a portion, about the size of your palm. For leaner cuts, like turkey or chicken breast, your portion should be larger than your palm, coming to about your first knuckle.   This section of the plate is where your turkey, ham, or lentil loaf fits in at that holiday meal!


Your starch (or carb) should make up another quarter of your plate, or about the size of your fist.  This is where your roll, sweet potato casserole, or stuffing fits in. My favorite tip for starches at holiday meals is to choose one at the meal itself and remember that you can enjoy the other starch options as leftovers the next day, or just have a smaller portion of two or three of your favorites. 


This can sometimes feel like a big change from your “usual” holiday plate. Aim to fill half of your dinner plate with non-starchy veggies like green beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, or broccoli! This might mean experimenting with one or two veggie heavy recipes this year besides your traditional green bean casserole.  One of my favorites is roasted Brussels sprouts with cranberries and balsamic vinegar.


This category includes olive oil, butter, and nuts/seeds.  A portion of butter or oils should be no bigger than the size of your thumb, and a portion of nuts or seeds should be a spoonful. If you use fats to cook your veggies or starches, you’ll usually meet your quota. For example, the fat from your green bean casserole will usually fulfill this category.


We know you might be wondering…where do treats fit in?!  Here’s the deal. While it can sometimes feel like the holidays last for weeks on end, a holiday is actually only one day. If you look forward to grandma’s pumpkin pie, or those holiday cookies all year, plan ahead and enjoy them in moderation after dinner! The next day, just get right back to your regular programming.  Our favorite thing to think about when contemplating those holiday desserts is, “is it realistic for me to think I will never again eat a holiday cookie?” The answer is usually no, so instead of saying they are “off limits” and feeling guilty when you eat them, set yourself up for success by creating a goal like “I will enjoy one small piece of pumpkin pie after dinner” or “I will have 2 holiday cookies after dinner” and enjoy them! Moderation (not deprivation) is the name of the Noom game.