What Should My Holiday Plate Look Like?

Graphic of healthy plate with the food groups fruits, carbs, meats, and vegetables

As the holiday season approaches, we’re looking forward to all the treats and feasts that come along with it. With so many food-related celebrations and traditions, we encourage you to remember balance is key and make healthy choices that will do your body good.

Maybe you remember learning about the food pyramid in elementary school, which was first debuted by the USDA in 1992. This original guide was grounded on grains, followed by fruits and vegetables, dairy and protein, and topped with fats and sweets.  The next food pyramid, introduced in 2005, had a very different look, with vertical wedges for the food groups and a stick figure running up the side to emphasize physical activity.  Then, in 2011, the USDA Food Guide was transformed from a pyramid into a plate. “MyPlate” is a simplified tool that shows how much of your plate should be filled with the different food groups.  No matter what holiday you’ll be celebrating this season, keep these tips in mind while filling up your plate.

Fruits and Vegetables

According to MyPlate, about half of your meal should consist of fruits and vegetables. Make sure to scoop some green beans and carrots onto your plate!


Fill about a quarter of your plate with stuffing and bread and go for whole grains whenever possible.


Healthier protein options (fish, poultry, beans, and nuts) should make up a little less than a quarter of your plate. Generally, it’s a good idea to limit red meat, cheese, and processed meat. Bring on the turkey for a lean protein option.


Dairy is a good source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin D, and has been found to provide some protection against the development of chronic diseases. When it comes to dairy, moderation is key to a well-rounded diet. If you already include dairy in your diet, consider having a glass of milk with your meal or snacking on a yogurt dip as an appetizer.

stay active

MyPlate may not explicitly mention the need for physical activity, but it’s always a good idea to get your body moving. Top off your holiday meal with a post-meal walk with family and friends.

To sum it up, no matter what options you have to fill your plate, try to make sure that half of your plate consists of fruits and vegetables, and opt for whole grain options and lean protein whenever possible. Incorporate dairy and fats in moderation, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a colorful plate that will leave you feeling healthy, full, and in the holiday spirit.