Like most other American holidays, July 4th signifies a time to gather and to eat. However, if you struggle with weight issues, know this year’s backyard barbecue is not your occasion to give in and join the masses. In fact, it’s a time to exercise your independence, but how?

Here are five ways you can stick to your diet and feel liberated this holiday:

  1. Fuel up before you go. Hitting a party on an empty stomach is a surefire way to head straight for the food. Eat before going to minimize temptation.
  2. Take a healthy dish. In preparing and taking food you know is healthy, you can be confident there will be at least one dish you can have without remorse.
  3. Plan your plate. Take a look around the table and find those foods you know are better for you before getting in line. Let strategy keep you on target.
  4. Be social. If you’re busy talking to friends or family or participating in activities, you’ll be less likely to graze. So enjoy the quality time and get to mingling.
  5. Go light on the alcohol. This is both in calories and in quantity, meaning that if you’re going to have a drink, opt for a glass of wine or a low calorie beer. Be safe and on track.

Above all, don’t stress. Should you begin to feel that you’re denying yourself, indulge in a treat, but keep it in reason (think small dessert). There’s no shame in that, and you’ll get great satisfaction in knowing you exercised restraint and independence this holiday.