As we enter the holiday season, Americans are abandoning their attempts to be healthy - and half will break their diet to give into the temptation of holiday food, according to new research.
The survey of 2,000 Americans who celebrate a winter holiday found that 47 percent have given into the lure of their favorite treats and ended up quitting their diet as a result.
But they're not alone in making unhealthy decisions at the end of the year - results of the second annual "Writing Off the End of the Year" survey found that 41 percent use the holidays as an excuse to postpone being healthy, compared to 47 percent the previous year.
Commissioned by Herbalife Nutrition and conducted by OnePoll, the survey found that for those taking a "start again in January" approach, a third start postponing their healthy habits by mid-November.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said it was hardest to stay healthy during the winter holiday season, and that food is a major reason why.
Forty-four percent admit to having eaten more than one dessert at a meal, while 36 percent have eaten more than one holiday dinner in a day and 30 percent say they've had to undo a button on their pants because of eating too much.
In fact, the average person expects to gain six pounds during the holiday season, according to both the 2018 and this year's survey.
The biggest food temptations were found to be cookies (53 percent), pies or cakes (53 percent) and home-cooked holiday meals (44 percent).
And the survey found that three in 10 actually plan to eat more during the holidays - specifically because their New Year's resolution is to be healthier.
In addition to overindulging, not getting enough exercise was another reason respondents might be piling on the pounds during the holidays.
Twenty-seven percent of respondents say they exercise less during the holidays - and of those, the average time spent working out each week was two hours less than usual.
Interestingly, this year's survey showed that respondents are less optimistic about their ability to stay healthy in the new year (45 percent), as compared to 2018 - in which 54 percent believed their efforts would be successful.
"Enjoying the holidays doesn't mean you have to completely abandon your attempts to be healthy and make healthy choices," says Dr. John Agwunobi, co-president and chief health and nutrition officer at Herbalife Nutrition. "Healthy snacking is a useful tool in combating overindulgence. Consuming protein-rich snacks before heading out to a holiday feast can help make you feel full, so that you don't overindulge."
But with January comes a "new year, new me" attitude and results found that 33 percent are planning to make a New Year's resolution - compared to 34 percent last year.
The top resolution - for the second consecutive year - is to exercise more, but it ranked higher among last year's respondents (71 percent vs. 59 percent).
For those looking ahead to 2020, this was followed by eating healthier (59 percent) and saving more money (53 percent).
Dr. Agwunobi adds, "Staying on track can be hard especially if you are tackling it on your own. Developing a support system of people who know your goals, strengths and weaknesses can be extremely beneficial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially during the challenging times of the year."