Man loading his plate with food at a holiday dinner

Turkey with gravy, spiral-cut ham, sugar cookies, eggnog--the food and beverages we typically associate with the holidays come in all shapes, sizes, and calorie counts. 

But with the New Year fast approaching--and the age-old weight-loss resolution with it--we might want to keep vigilant about our dietary choices. Abstaining from richer food and drink can make for dull holidays, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind.


To give yourself the best chance at meeting your weight-loss goals in the New Year, try these simple tricks.

Stay Active

This year, the simple advice of “stay active” might be easier said than done. Even so, some activity is better than none at all.


Though you may be tempted to nap after a big lunch, try instead a simple walk around the neighborhood or through a nearby park. When traveling, check with loved ones about their local gym memberships and consider visiting with them on a guest pass if possible.

You might even browse local websites for holiday themed fun runs or other outdoor activities. Some events may be cancelled due to pandemic restrictions, so check ahead of time and coordinate with family about possible activities.

In lieu of organized runs or local gyms, fit into your holiday trip some simple cardio or body-weight activity that you can do in the house or surrounding neighborhood. Postprandial walks, morning jogs, and even a couple sets of pushups before your daily shower can make a world of difference. 

Check your Portions

A “good” holiday meal begs us to fill our plates to the brim. But when dealing with a potluck style meal or extensive holiday spread, portions are everything.


You can still try a little bit of each dish, but be sure to monitor the space left on your plate or consider using a smaller plate altogether. 

Thinking in terms of “bites” can help, as can thinking in terms of a “main” dish and “sides.” At most, you’ll want one to two bites of every dish, not 4 or 5. This may help you consider appropriate quantities.

Watch for Hidden Calories

If the meals themselves weren’t tempting enough, there are snacks and drinks to watch for as well.


If you plan to indulge in lunch or dinner, consider skipping richer snacks throughout the day. Better yet, pack some healthy snacks with you.

Certain drinks can be a hidden source of sugar and calories. Soda can be especially dangerous with 120-150 calories per can, while liquor weighs in at 100-110 calories per 1.5 oz. Even the most conscientious beer brands boast 95 calories a bottle, while a cup of eggnog tips the scales at 220 calories or more.

Avoid “Boredom” Eating

Holiday meals may be loud and festive, but the aftermath usually finds us nodding on couches, napping in beds, or pacing the house for something to do.


During quiet holiday moments, we may find ourselves back at the fridge, picking at the leftovers for lack of something more engaging to do. The simplest solution for “boredom eating” is to stave off boredom. 

Make sure to pack a book or an electronic device. Grab a board game from the closet to keep family and friends engaged. Better still, use your holiday downtime to take that walk, visit that gym, or even take a drive around the old neighborhood.

Better Holidays, Better You

Overeating may be culturally acceptable during the holidays, but that doesn’t automatically make it personally acceptable to you or your weight loss and fitness goals. 


Healthy living begins in the kitchen the other 364 days of the year. While the holidays can be a slight exception to the rule, limits are still important--especially when we’re having fun.

UAB Medical West shares your fitness goals!

Our weight loss and fitness goals begin with a lifestyle of healthy choices. UAB Medical West can start you on the path to eating better, keeping active, and making the changes you’d like to see in yourself. For a general checkup, or to get back on track with your wellness goals, visit UAB Medical West.