Once again, it's that time of year where excess calories and fattening treats lurk behind every corner, just waiting to weigh you down. Whether it's eggnog at your neighbor's house, someone bringing in cookies at the office, chocolates in your stocking or candy canes from the tree, all of the little extras add up. Most Americans will generally put on a couple of pounds by New Year's Day, and many believe that there's no harm in this, if the gain is only small. However, research at the National Health Institute has suggested that the majority of Americans never lose the weight they gain over the winter holidays. As pounds add up over the years, holiday weight gain can become a significant factor in obesity. Fortunately, you don't have to fall into the holiday trap, just take a few steps to avoid packing on the pounds.

1.) Prepare

Don't turn up to a party feeling hungry. Try to fill yourself up on nutritious snacks before you head out to celebrate the holiday season, as this will make you less likely to fall victim to the various fattening temptations that are likely to be available.

2.) Weigh Yourself

Weigh yourself regularly, as this will help to give you a good idea of your weight gain and loss, making sure that you stay on track. Just make sure that you don't weigh yourself so often that you take the fun straight out of your holiday.

3.) Be Picky

If there's a buffet to choose from, check out everything there is on offer before you start loading your plate sky-high. Stick to the foods you really want and stay away from the treats you could do without. Another good tip is to start small with your portion sizes. If you have a smaller plate of food, you're more likely to get distracted, eat more slowly, and resist the temptation of getting more.

4.) Don't Save Up Calories

Cutting back on your calorie intake all day for the distinct purpose of indulging yourself at an event later in the evening is only setting your body up for a serious fall. The reason for this is that you've basically starved yourself for a large portion of the day, which makes it so much easier to lose control of your appetite. If you're feeling extra hungry, you're more likely to pile a plate high with high-calorie foods. Eat your meals throughout the day as normal as you can and don't forget to take snacks in the form of fruits and vegetables.

5.) Walk It Off!

Once you're done with your holiday feast, why not make it a family tradition to go out, experience the brisk weather, and see the great outdoors? A family walk will help you burn some excess calories and ensure that you're not sitting around left-over food that could tempt you to go back for seconds. Walking even puts you in a better mindset for maintaining a good body image, as it helps you to feel in control and boosts energy.