While almost everyone has a diet, or way of eating, that they prefer to follow most of the year you can still eat healthy. Regardless if you’re low carb, or high carb there are a few overlaps. Both plans ask that you give up processed food, cut down on sugar, avoid unhealthy fats, and eat high nutrition food until satiated.

But, the holidays are full of all the wrong foods that you probably don’t want to miss out on. The problem is, once you start eating them it can be hard to stop. Many people are still eating “holiday” food well into February after falling off the wagon. But you really can have your party and eat the food too.

Let’s look at a few tips on how to handle this situation during the holidays without having any regrets or setting yourself on a path of self-destruction in the name of creating memories.

Choose Wisely

When choosing recipes for any party you’re going to have, look for recipes that are compliant to your way of eating. You’ll be shocked at how talented people recreate their most favorite foods into compliant and delicious dishes.

If you’re not choosing, the best thing to do is to eat something you feel good about before going, then only have a taste of the special food at the party. Putting one tablespoon of each dish you want to try on your plate isn’t going to ruin your year but it will give you something to do while conversing with the other guests and make you feel less left out.

Chances are, if you’ve been eating low carb, keto or paleo for some time, the sweets won’t even appeal to you during the holidays. In fact, one bite of dessert that’s loaded with sugar will probably taste too sweet and be too rich for you now. That’s a good thing.

Know Nutritional Information

When you’re going to be in an unfamiliar location it’s a good idea to study and know the calorie content of all the food that you might be tempted to eat. It doesn’t mean you can’t eat that 1100 calorie per serving pumpkin pie that Aunt Sally made. But it does mean that you’ll want to eat just a bite or two and savor it.

Even if you do choose to eat the whole thing you know what you’ve done and can take actions on other days to lessen the damage. For example, if you really want that 1100 calorie piece of pie consider the week before the dinner and the week after and adjust each day down 100 calories or so to make up for it.

Use Substitutions

When you go to a holiday buffet it can be overwhelming. All the colors, smells, and textures are making your salivary glands overreact as if you’ve not eaten all year. That’s because many holiday dishes have a very specific combination of fat, salt, and sugar that humans love.

Thankfully, you can substitute for healthier versions. Try to understand the nutritional makeup of the food you eat and understand your own way of eating well to do it. For one person choosing only veggies and the protein will work great. For others, they may need to only eat the veggie dishes. It depends on you.

Calories Do Matter

It’s hard to accept sometimes but calories are very important. Nutrition is too, but during the holidays you might want to keep track of calories if you’re not exactly following your way of eating. You can use an online calculator to discover how many calories you can eat each day to maintain your current weight.

Use your phone and an app to track the calories you’re consuming so that you can work toward mitigation later. For example, if you decided to eat the fruit salad covered in marshmallow cream because it’s your favorite thing at the holiday table, all you do is eat less before the event and less after the event and move more to make up for it. In other words, get back on track after the day and don’t make the same choices every single day between Halloween and New Year’s Eve.

Cut Your Portion Sizes

One of the best ways to enjoy everything is to watch your portion sizes. Keeping in mind the number of calories you can eat per day to maintain your weight. But, also keep in mind that you can vary your calories each day if your weekly average doesn’t go over the number of calories you can have each day.

Watching portion sizes is a great way to enjoy each of your favorite foods during the holidays. Most holiday food is so rich that more than a tablespoon or two of each is probably too much anyway. You’re going to get the flavors in smaller servings as well as the experience. You don’t have to stuff yourself. You’ll feel better if you don’t and you will avoid gastrointestinal issues that can ruin your holiday.

Eat Your Favorites

When you have a couple items that are your favorites and some that are just ok, choose your favorites. Follow the advice about cutting portion sizes, but eat it. If you deny yourself you’ll be miserable and probably not that much fun to be around. You won’t look forward to the event.

If you have allergies and other food limitations due to serious health issues and cannot eat the things you love, remember that you’re there to spend time with friends and family. Find ways to create memorable experiences that don’t have much to do with food. Start a game, go for a walk, hug your friends and family, laugh and have fun.

Prepare Meals Yourself

Even if the holidays have always been at one place doesn’t mean it always must be. You might be shocked that the host doesn’t really want to be a host every year. It just happened that way and they were stuck with it.

To find out, offer to host the event this year. That way you can prepare all the meals yourself, let your guests bring something too, but at least you’ll have foods to eat and know the ingredients included in the dishes.

If you are still going to a particular place and hosting yourself won’t work out, you can bring your own food without any worry as long as you bring enough to share. More food is always welcome.

You’d be shocked at how fast that veggie mock-fried rice will go when no one realizes it’s healthy. The same can be said for your low-fat carrot cake that has applesauce in it instead of fat. It’s amazing what people love when they aren’t told it’s healthy.

One of the most important factors is to remember why you’re with the people you’re with while you’re eating. You’re there to enjoy their company, get caught up on all that you’ve missed over the previous year, and enjoy the spirit of the season.

Also remember that food is there for most of us all the time since we live in a first-world country. We can eat any type of food we want, any time of the year, without giving it a second thought. You don’t have to eat it all today. You have time.