As we approach the holiday season, people begin to find comfort in comfort foods, rationalizing that they can work on their diet after the beginning of the new year. We often find ourselves making excuses to overindulge because it’s “that time of year.” Between Thanksgiving, winter holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah, and various parties in between, the average American gains up to 5 pounds during the holiday season.Follow these simple tips from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension to maintain weight and avoid gain this holiday season:Focus on family: The holiday season is about family and fellowship, but often we focus on food instead. Take the time to talk to family members and socialize. The more time you spend talking, the less time you will spend eating.Avoid portion distortion: Use smaller plates so that your plate appears to have more food on it than it actually does. Eat special dishes: There are often dishes that we savor during the holidays because that is the only time of the year that these dishes are served. If that is the case in your household, focus on those dishes rather than wasting calories on dishes that you would generally eat throughout the year. Get outside: Rather than standing around the buffet table or lingering in the kitchen by the food, get outside after eating. Engage children and other family members in games or go for a brisk walk.Stop eating when you are satisfied: Pay attention to the signals your body gives you. Many of us grew up in households where you were expected to clean your plate before being allowed to leave the table. Don’t feel obligated to continue to eat if your stomach is full. The moment you start to feel satisfied, not completely full or bloated, stop eating.Eat slowly: Put your fork down between bites and engage in conversation with your loved ones in order to avoid eating too quickly. Take sips of water between bites to decrease the speed at which you eat and help save on calorie intake.Drink water: Avoid sugary cocktails and punches. Instead, drink water or sparkling water with sliced fruit for a festive yet refreshing alternative free of calories and sugar.Don’t skip meals: Always start your day with a healthy breakfast. This will keep you feeling fuller longer and prevent you from overeating when it is time to sit down for your holiday meal.Enjoy the holiday season and let it be a time of love and togetherness.