For many people in North America, the winter holiday season starts with stuffing ourselves with Halloween candy in October. Often, our willpower usually gets progressively weaker from then until the end of the year. No wonder the most popular New Year's Resolution is to lose weight or get in shape! If you are afraid that the temptations of holiday parties and family gatherings will sabotage your healthy eating habits and cause you to cheat on your diet, there are some things that you can do to prepare yourself in advance. Once the holidays arrive, keep the following basic suggestions in mind.

Tip 1: Set realistic goals for yourself. For example, unless you are extremely disciplined, continuing to follow a strict weight loss plan during the holidays just might not be possible. If you are currently on a diet, try to maintain your weight during the holidays without gaining any additional pounds, rather than focusing on fast weight loss or losing a lot of weight.

Tip 2: Follow your normal diet and exercise routine as much as you can. Factor in travel plans and any other potential disruptions to your daily schedule, and decide how you will deal with them. If you will be staying in a hotel, be sure to choose one with healthy eating options and a decent workout facility. Sticking to a familiar routine could actually help you deal with the stress of holiday obligations and resist the tendency to overindulge.

Tip 3: Prepare yourself in advance of holiday parties by drinking plenty of water and eating a low-calorie snack beforehand, so that you will not be tempted to overeat at the party. When you're there, choose the healthiest food and drink options that you can find, and keep yourself busy by socializing with others.

Tip 4: Find other ways to celebrate the holiday season that do not revolve around food and drink. Enjoy a holiday concert or a seasonal movie with loved ones. If you do gather for a large meal such as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, offer to lead everyone on a neighborhood walk afterwards if the weather permits.

Tip 5: Realize that you will not be able to turn down every temptation that you face, and allow yourself to indulge in a few treats. The winter holiday season is a time of celebration and togetherness. You cannot fully enjoy the holiday experience if you deny yourself every single cookie, cake and candy that you encounter.

Tip 6: Many cookbooks and online recipe sites contain healthier alternatives to traditional holiday recipes. Share some new recipes with your family and friends, and encourage them to join you in practicing better eating habits.