Holidays are a time filled with rich, delicious food and quality time with our loved ones. If I told you I didn’t splurge on an extra portion of mashed potatoes, I’d be lying. However, I have come to learn that we can treat ourselves, but also care enough to learn a couple healthy habits over the next couple of months. With these five tips, you'll be sure to stay healthy for the holidays -- both mentally and physically. 

1. Contribute a Healthy Dish 

If you don't normally help cook for your family's holiday meals, you can certainly apply this to your good ol' Friendsgiving. You could easily contribute a vegetable platter or a fruit salad, but I feel like we could bring things up a notch. For example, try to look for low-fat, low-sugar, low-carb alternatives. When I make my infamous mashed potatoes, I try to look for low-fat sour cream and cream cheese. You can still provide a delicious side dish while making it more health-conscious. 

2. Homemade > Processed 

If I am a firm believed in anything, it is the saying of "fresh is best and canned is banned." Not only is experimenting in the kitchen fun, you also know exactly what is going into your food. I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone this holiday season and create something from scratch. An easy dish that can be turned into a homemade one is the green bean casserole. Here is a great starter recipe. Even if you're just contributing a simple side dish, its always better homemade with fresh ingredients. 

3. Exercise, But in a Fun Way 

I will be the first one to admit that exercise is not my favorite thing in the world. However, there is a way to make it enjoyable. Some forms of exercise I like are dancing, family bike rides, and a long walk with your dog. All of these activities are family centered and don't involve lugging yourself all the way to the gym. Go grab some family members and make exercising fun again! If that's not a win, I don't know what is. 

4. Don't Feel Guilty 

This is probably my biggest tip. If your mom whipped out her not-so-healthy mac' and cheese, please give yourself 2 scoops and don't think twice about it. Sometimes, we disregard everything we have ever learned and go way too hard for that holiday dinner. We have all been in that post-dinner coma. Just check in with yourself, because your next move could always be healthier. 

5. Take Time For Yourself & Family 

Nothing is better than a break from school combined with the love of your family. Yes, you can maintain physical health, but its also important to be aware of your mental health. For me, I enjoy to unwind with my friends and family over the holidays. There is something about being home that makes my heart very full. Even if your family is a little crazy (like mine), you love them anyways. The holidays always seem to readjust my priorities and give me an extra boost to finish off the semester strong.