You’ve seen the diet traps before. You’ve gone out with the best intentions to avoid the “bad foods,” but only make it part way through the night. When you’re planning your own holiday party, you can cut calories and diet-proof your menu. Make it a memorable and healthy night for yourself and all your guests.

Plan a Low Calorie Menu. Carefully choose the dishes you intend to serve so they include only low calorie and nutrient dense options. This doesn’t mean you need to serve flavorless dishes or vegetables no one has ever heard of, though. It will just take careful selection and planning. You’ll be able to serve items such as peppermint parfaits and apple cinnamon bread pudding. If want your guests to bring a dish, let them know in advance that you’re planning a healthy menu. Request that they limit dishes to a certain caloric content. You can even offer to help them find ways to make their favorite recipe more healthy. Of course, not everyone will want to participate, so give them the opportunity to opt out gracefully.

Swap Ingredients. Substitute added fats and oils in recipes for applesauce to dramatically reduce fat and calories. Butter can be replaced entirely with applesauce. Another simple switch you can do is trade heavy cream for coconut milk in recipes like soups. Eliminate sugar from recipes by replacing it with a few teaspoons of vanilla extract. Common low calories ingredient swaps can be found quickly online. You can also use an app for reference, such as CalCutter, a free app launched by the New York City Health Department which helps you determine the total and cut back calories in your recipes at home. You can also access a web-based version of the app. Double check that the ingredient subsitution will work in the type of recipe you’re using because it may change the texture of the final dish.

Use Strong Flavors. Though you don’t want everything to be overpowering, using strong flavors helps compensate for taste complexity in low calorie foods. Seasonal dishes are perfect for this because so many already contain cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and other deep flavors. Don’t be afraid to go spicy, either. Chile peppers, parika, cayenne, and chipotle are popular, easy-to-use spices. They add lots of taste and no fat or calories. For example, Chipotle-Cheddar Broiled Avocado Halves are gluten free, under 200 calories, and low sodium. They’re packed with flavor and sure to be a hit with your guests.

Serve a Sit Down Meal. Buffets full of finger foods and hor d’oeuvres passing by every few moments make it too easy to eat all night long. It’s nearly impossible to be sure how many calories you’ve consumed while picking at foods and socializing. Limit the constant access to foods by serving a true, sit down dinner. Also, offer smaller plates so you and your guests can more easily guest proper serving sizes. After dinner is complete, clear all the food, cutlery, and so on. Everyone will be far less likely to overeat if there isn’t a full dinner menu of food to pick at all evening.

Throwing a holiday party can be stressful as it is. You might think that limiting food and drink options to healthy versions could make it more complicated or stressful. However, implementing these steps in advance keeps you from falling into those diet traps on the big day. Plus your guests who are watching their waistlines will be thrilled to know they can enjoy anything on your menu without killing their own diets.

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