Consuming lots of sugar can spike inflammation in the body, and for some people with arthritis, that brings on a painful flare. But you don’t have to avoid all sweets – even around the holidays. These tips can help you enjoy a treat-filled season without going into sugar overload.

Prepare for parties. Don’t go to parties on an empty stomach; even a big glass of water beforehand will reduce the urge to reach for the cookies, says Lona Sandon, assistant clinical professor of nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. And take a healthy dessert such as a big bowl of fruit. If you present it as a gift, your hostess will be more likely to serve it.

Savor the flavor. A recent study published online in Psychological Science suggests that creating rituals around food – such as slowly and methodically unwrapping a piece of chocolate, looking at it and smelling it before eating it – leads to enjoying it more. Appreciating food, instead of mindlessly grazing at the dessert table, can help you eat less.

Watch what you drink. Steer clear of sweet drinks that look healthy, like cocktails with juice, because juice is loaded with sugar. “The simpler the drink, the better,” says Sandon. Wine is a good choice, she adds, but stick to one or two glasses.