Cultural Experience | Ohio

How To: Stay Healthy for the Holidays, A College Girls Guide

Tips to avoid packing on the pounds from all of those holiday cookies!

By Molly Tavoletti, Ohio State

It’s the most wonderful time of the year–the semester is winding down, the leaves are falling and the holidays are quickly approaching.

Along with cooler temperatures, warm sweaters and the Michael Buble Christmas album, this season also means holiday parties–and more importantly holiday food.

Some of the most delicious dishes are prepared during the coming months, forcing us to face the problem of overindulgence and packing on unwanted pounds. Fortunately, entirely avoiding the savory dinners and rich desserts is not the sole solution to staying healthy this holiday season.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite tips for avoiding the post-party guilt and staying strong and healthy from now until the new year!

Don’t starve yourself

How many times have you woken up the morning of a holiday party and thought to yourself, “Okay. I’ll just starve myself from now until the party. I need to save my calories for later.” And while basic logic would dictate this approach compelling, let me be the first to tell you it is not a healthy solution and will actually do more harm than good.

Whenever you deprive yourself of food for an extended period of time, your body enters “starvation mode” and begins storing fat in order to prepare itself to sustain energy. You’ll not only send your metabolism in a tailspin, but you’ll also arrive to the party so hungry that you’ll be inclined to eat everything in sight, effectively beating  your original plan into the ground.

Instead, have a healthy snack a few hours before the party. Aim for something between 250-300 calories that is rich in protein and fiber to help fill you  up enough so you won’t over eat later. A great go-to for me is two slices of whole wheat toast topped with 1/2 an avocado and a little salt and pepper–its not only healthy and filling, but also delicious!

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Offer to make a healthy dessert

One sure fire way to ensure there will be a healthy dessert option at your next holiday party is to provide it yourself. Last year for Thanksgiving just did a quick pinterest search and came across a recipe for something so wonderfully delicious yet still healthy–Apple pie stuffed baked apples. You get all the cinnamon apple flavor of traditional apple pie without the high carb crust. So good & guilt free!

You can find the recipe here.

Squeeze in Some Physical Activity

This is a MUST for me. The morning of a holiday party or a big dinner like Thanksgiving, I never skip a chance to break a sweat. Getting in a heart pounding workout will rev your metabolism for the rest of the day–something crucial when you’ll be consuming more calories than normal.

The gym I belong to at home hosts what they call the “Merry Mix” on Christmas and New Years Eve morning. It is a 90 minute power workout combining a bootcamp, cycling and kettlebell all in one! While the workout is always tough, I always feel so incredible afterwards. Not to mention everyone wears santa hats which really gets me in the holiday spirit early. Check out your local gyms for programs like this!

No gym? No problem! Thanksgiving Day my gym is closed, so I usually go for a 3-5 mile run or do a circuit at home. Try this quick, but tough at-home workout a created for CHAARG.com:


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REMEMBER: Don’t tell yourself that because you worked out that you deserve 6 slices of pie–moderation is still key!

Mind your portions with smaller plates.

Portion control is the biggest culprit when it comes to overindulging during the holidays. But thankfully there are a few ways you can outsmart your brain and avoid falling victim to over-stuffing yourself.

Choose a smaller plate. It has been proven that we do in fact eat with our eyes to an extent, and a filled small plate will trick your mind into thinking you’re consuming more food than you actually are–making it less likely that you will eat larger than normal portions.

Also, try to fill at least half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter with a protein, and a quarter with a carb. Wait at least 15 minutes after you finish to decide if you’re still hungry for seconds!


Remember what the holidays are really about!

While many holiday parties are centered around food, try not to place the majority of your focus on it. If you’re a college student, the holidays a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends you haven’t seen for a while. Instead of lingering around the food table, have a conversation or hit the dance floor. The holiday season only comes once a year so try and make the most of every minute!

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Finally, don’t let the threat of holiday weight gain become a major anxiety. If you happen to pack on a few pounds from November to January it is not the end of the world! You’ll get back on track soon. As long as you follow these tips, practice moderation and just enjoy this blessed holiday season, you will be happy!

What are some of your favorite tips for staying healthy this holiday season? Share them with me below!

Molly Tavoletti

The Ohio State University | 11 stories

Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, I am now a junior at Ohio State University, majoring in Journalism and Political Science. I am obsessed with with all things health and fitness--I'm a blogger for an all female fitness organization at OSU as well as the health/fitness columnist for the OSU newspaper, The Lantern. In my free time, I am an intern at NBC4 in Columbus as well as a tutor at the OSU Writing Center. When I'm not writing (which is rare!) I spend my time singing with the OSU Women's Glee Club and of course--cheering on the Buckeyes at OSU football games!


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