By Brooke Peloquin

It’s the hap, hap, happiest time of the year, and you know what that means: more food and drinks than your student budget could ever afford.

Nothing screams the holiday season like having three plates of turkey dinner with your family and topping it off with a bowl of candy cane ice cream and a hot chocolate with Bailey’s (because I know we’ve all done it). But with feasts come high calorie counts, feeling bloated, and for some of us, a little bit of guilt. So how do you enjoy the holidays as guilt free as possible you ask? Well, lemme tell you.

First thing’s first. Forget crash diets. I can’t stress this enough. I hate crash diets more than anything in the world, and for good reason. Going on a juice cleanse or cabbage diet the week before your family’s holiday dinner is going to do nothing for you but make you feel terrible, because of the lack of real nutrients you’re getting. You might lose a couple of pounds, but you’ll gain them right back in a matter of days. Crash diets don’t work because it’s impossible to maintain them. When your body goes from only consuming juices to the most amazing mashed potatoes, your body is going to go into shock and devour all the bad stuff. So STAY AWAY.

Second, the key to a guilt-free holiday dinner is all about balance. Maybe all the yoga I’ve been doing has gone to my head, but seriously—balance. If you know you’re going to be eating two family dinners over the course of one weekend, make sure you eat *healthy* the week leading up, and the week following. Treat your family dinners as “cheat days,” if you have to, because you’re allowed to enjoy time with your family guilt-free. That’s what the holiday season is all about, right? Good food and quality time with the fam (friends included).

Finally, just give your body some good quality holiday love. No one is judging you for eating that extra slice of pie or scoop of stuffing. You deserve it! You just survived exams and final papers, so embrace the holiday feasts, the food coma that ensues and your bod, no matter your shape or size. And if you’re reaaaally that worried about the extra cals you’ll be consuming just remember, December may be a cold month but you can do some really fun stuff in the snow. Sledding, skiing, snowboarding and skating all count as good exercise that can make you feel great after a big meal.

Most importantly, just live it up. You’ll be back to school and eating Mr. Noodles and canned soup before you know it. Why not soak up all the turkey, stuffing, cookies, and pies while you can?