Extension specialist provides tips on healthy eating during holidays

A Holiday Fruit Parfait is a healthy alternative during the holidays. (Special to The Commercial)

The holiday season is full of baked treats and tempting party dishes. It's great to spend time with family and friends and enjoy meals, but people need to be mindful of what and how much food they eat, said Teresa Henson, Extension specialist-program outreach coordinator at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

"If being mindful of what you eat during the holidays sounds like too much work, it really isn't," Henson said.

Henson suggests tips to help people enjoy their holiday favorites:

Eat breakfast. Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Breakfast will allow one to stay full and not overeat.

Leave food on the plate. "When you are full, stop eating," Henson said. "Save leftovers for later."

Make healthy choices. Keep healthy food choices, such as fruits and vegetables, readily available in cabinets, cupboards and the refrigerator to encourage mindful, healthy eating habits.

Control portions. Eat items in smaller, single portions to control overeating.

Eat on smaller plates."The less you see on your plate, the better. Smaller plates will help you control portion sizes," she said.

Eat when hungry. Let hunger cues guide eating.

Eat slowly. During the meal, chew slowly and enjoy every bite. Try putting the fork down between bites to slow down eating. Drinking water between bites gives the body enough time to signal to the brain that it's satisfied.

Sit down. Eat at the dinner table and not in front of the computer or TV. "You can better control how much food you eat," she said.

To kick off the holiday season, try this holiday fruit parfait healthy recipe provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources:

Holiday Fruit Parfait

Yield: 1 serving


½ cup of red and green fruit such as green grapes, kiwi, strawberries and raspberries

½ cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

Maple syrup (optional)


Wash hands with soap and water.

Rinse produce and pat dry with paper towel.

Cut fruit up into small pieces, ½ inch or less, safe enough for children under 5 years old.

Layer yogurt with fruit in a plastic glass. If desired, drizzle a teaspoon of maple syrup for an added touch of sweetness.

Nutrition Information

Calories 143

Total Fat 0.1 g

Sodium 59mg

Total Carbohydrates 33g

Fiber 1.8g

Protein 4g

Some of the information in this article was contributed by North Carolina State University Extension and Utah State University Extension.