Small group of mid adult friends sharing dessert at a restaurant.You really can enjoy holiday parties, and your favorite homemade treats, without fear of the scale. Try some of these tips so you can stay on track and not feel deprived.

Add exercise

Yes, you’re busy but it’s a sure bet you can manage 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. There are several benefits to keeping exercise on the agenda. Staying active can ease some of the holiday anxiety and stress that often leads to comfort eating. Working out also helps banish the holiday blues, another reason many of us reach for calorie and carb heavy comforts. If you don’t have the 20 minutes all together, aim for ten minutes in the morning and ten at night.

Plan ahead

Make a food plan in the morning that takes you through the entire day. Consider any parties, meetings where treats will be served and business lunches. When you plan ahead for rich treats in the evening you can adjust caloric intake earlier in the day. That doesn’t mean you should starve yourself. Arriving ravenous before tempting foods is a great way to guarantee that you will overeat. Instead, choose foods with fiber and protein. These help you feel fuller longer so cutting back during the day isn’t like torture. Have eggs and salsa wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla for breakfast and a turkey sandwich with spinach and hummus for lunch. For an easy snack try Greek yogurt with berries or an ounce of cheese and a handful of nuts.

Survey the spread

Try to think of calories like you think of money. There is only a certain amount you can spend so it is important to prioritize and choose thoughtfully. Review the whole menu or buffet table and decide which offerings are most worthy of the calories you have available to spend. Choose only things that are splurge worthy. Remember, there is always tomorrow. You don’t have to enjoy all the holiday treats today. Make a holiday calorie budget and don’t blow it all in one day.

A few final tips…

Share dessert – the first few bites are the best anyway. Studies show enjoyment diminishes after that.

Eat mindfully – slow down and enjoy each bite. Savoring, rather than inhaling food, gives you time to realize you are full.

Don’t drink your calories – cocktails and egg nog have lots of calories. Enjoy water or club soda in between. As a bonus, staying hydrated can also help you avoid overeating because thirst is sometimes mistaken for hunger.