Ball State professor shares tips for staying healthy during holiday season

<p>Christy Tunnel, assistant lecturer for nutrition and dietetics, advises that students east a lot of vegetables and fruits with their holiday meals to leave room for sweets. <strong>Pixabay, Photo Courtesy</strong></p>

Christy Tunnel, assistant lecturer for nutrition and dietetics, advises that students east a lot of vegetables and fruits with their holiday meals to leave room for sweets. Pixabay, Photo Courtesy

Six tips for people to stay healthy during the holiday season:

  1. Remember that not all party food is created equal
    Tunnel recommends people fill 80 percent of their holiday plate with greens, vegetables and fruits, leaving 20 percent for other indulgent foods.
  2. Don’t skip meals
    Saving calories for later, especially before a big party, Tunnel said, could lead to binge eating. An hour before a party, she advises people to eat a balanced snack containing a mixture of protein and carbohydrates.
  3. Watch out for portion distortion
    Tunnel said choosing a smaller plate can also help keep portions small, and practicing mindful eating can help people slow down and enjoy their meals.
  4. Watch what you drink
    Limiting consumption of high-calorie beverages like eggnog and hot-buttered rum, Tunnel said, can help people maintain their waistline. Tunnel said when people drink more water throughout the day, they eat fewer total calories.
  5. Commit to making healthy meals and snacks at home
    While people might have dozens of holiday parties to attend, Tunnel recommends people make good healthy meals when they are at home.
  6. Keep a fitness routine
    Keeping as much movement as possible, Tunnel said, will help people burn off unwanted pounds. She recommends aiming for one structured training session per week.

With the winter holiday season nearing, some people are getting ready for holiday meals. 

Hudson French, freshman telecommunications major who plays first base for the National Club Baseball Association at Ball State, said he does his best to pay attention to what he eats. 

“It’s hard sometimes,” French said. “It's easy to stay in my room. It's easy to do classwork for hours. It's easy to get on a game for an hour just to escape a little bit, but I want to push myself to be more proactive in watching what I eat.”

To address similar concerns people in the Ball State community might have, Christy Tunnel, assistant clinical lecturer for nutrition and dietetics, shared tips for people to stay healthy during the holidays in a press release.

She first suggested to make sure holiday plates are filled with a majority of greens, vegetables and fruits while still leaving some room for indulgence.

“The holidays bring lots of gatherings and are often filled with high-sugar and high-fat foods,” Tunnel said. “The key is to fill your plate with enough healthy options to feel full yet still leave room for smaller servings of some decadent foods.”

When it comes to holiday snacks, she recommends consuming snacks that are healthy and homemade — listing vegetables, peanuts and dark chocolate as good alternatives.

“Feeling energized during the holidays is just as much about getting the right nutrients into your body as it is about keeping extra calories at bay,” Tunnel said.

In addition to tracking food and beverage intake and maintaining a fitness routine, she also recommends avoiding skipping or saving meals for later.

Skipping meals, Tunnel said, leads to binge eating because people often satisfy their hunger with sugars and fats. Instead, she recommends making regular meals close to a quarter smaller than normal to avoid cravings and leave room for more food later.

“If you’re eating on campus in one of the food courts, find a meal that you know is relatively healthy, and make that your go-to for when you’re stressed for time,” Tunnel said.

French said he doesn’t skip meals often, normally only skipping them before games, but now that he’s away from home at college, he’s more likely to skip regular meals to “savor the home-cooking more,” especially during the winter holidays.

Not everything he avoids is strictly because he wants to maintain shape, however. French said health problems in his family restrict his diet as well. 

“It is a combination of things — high blood pressure and stuff like that. Bread [and] carbs kind of run things up a little bit,” he said. “Recently, I’ve been trying to watch it more and understand how it works in the family.”

French said he has heard advice similar to Tunnel’s in the past and is willing to apply the tips.

“It sounds like everything I’ve been told as a child,” he said. “It’s definitely something I’d be down to try … because I feel that ultimately, it might just make me feel better.”

Contact Jaden Hasse with comments at or on Twitter @HasseJaden.


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