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The excitement of Halloween has ended, but the holiday season is just beginning! Many times, the holidays can be a challenging time for folks trying to make healthy choices because of the temptation of sweets and treats around. All foods can fit into a healthy diet in moderation, but there are ways that you can control your environment and combat the less nutritious options while maintaining your healthy lifestyle.

Whenever you’re celebrating a holiday with friends and family, your number one priority should be to be present in that moment and enjoy it to the fullest. However, that does not have to exist separately from promoting balance and health in your life. Remember, balance is a form of health and is a requirement in sustainable lifestyle change.

Here are six tips for balancing health and holiday cheer, so you can maintain a good-for-you lifestyle while still enjoying the season.

  1. First and foremost, lose the guilt. You should never feel guilty about eating something (unless you maybe stole it from a child). There is a place for all kinds of foods in your diet on every day of the week, and guilt should never be your reaction to choosing one over the other. 
  2. Manage your expectations. Ask yourself, “What do I enjoy most during the holidays?” and let those things be the main focus of your energy. This will help to keep you from getting caught up in things that are not a priority or that don’t bring you joy.
  3. Bring (on) the vegetables! It is difficult to make half of your plate veggies if they aren’t available. Many people forget vegetables at the holiday table; if you are asked to bring something, bring a non-starchy vegetable dish like a salad or a roasted vegetable (see the recipe below).
  4. Eat slowly and savor the great holiday food. You will enjoy the food more and easily recognize when you are filling up. This tip goes for any time of year! You should always take your time when eating meals, eat in a non-distracting environment, and check in on your hunger and fullness signals regularly. 
  5. Compromise is key. Trying to stick to “Plan A” will not always work. And you will find it much easier to enjoy the holiday season when you allow yourself to be a little flexible and open to compromise (be it with yourself or those around you). This goes for your holiday plans as well as for the foods you eat. If something unexpected is brought that you want to try, go for it! Flexibility in your eating is just as important of a tool.
  6. Eat what you really love. There will be dozens of choices wherever you go. Be mindful about what you are eating and don’t feel obligated to eat items just because they are there.

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This recipe for a fall salad is a delicious option for balancing health and holiday cheer! Or you can try one of these recipes from Delish.

Fall Harvest Apple and Kale Salad


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup 
  • 1/3 cup raw pepitas 
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon 
  • 3 ounces thin sliced prosciutto 
  • 2 bags baby kale, roughly chopped 
  • 2 honey crisp apples, thinly sliced 
  • Arils from 1 pomegranate 
  • ½ cup low fat feta cheese, crumbled 

Cider Vinaigrette 

  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp. apple butter or apple sauce 
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme 
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  
  2. On the baking sheet, toss together pepitas, olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Spread into a single layer and lay the prosciutto flat around the pepitas. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the prosciutto is crisp.  
  3. While the pepitas are roasting, in a small bowl combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, apple butter, thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes for the dressing. Whisk until well combined and season with salt and pepper to taste.  
  4. In a large bowl, combine the kale, apples, pomegranate arils, feta cheese, and pepitas. Chop the prosciutto and add to the bowl.   
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well to combine. Serve immediately or chilled!

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Want even more help staying active during the holidays? Join an acac location near you! Learn more about our Member Benefits.