Birthday parties, happy hours, champagne brunches, and nights out with the girls are all occasions I used to really fear, both during and after my weight loss. I would get caught up in the festivities and always overindulged when I was in good company. I'd then spend the next day feeling miserable and disappointed in myself.

After a little trial and error, I've learned that social settings don't have to show up on the scale. Last weekend my husband and I hosted a wine-tasting party for a handful of friends. Here's how I kept it healthy and had fun.

Be a food snob
When it comes to higher-calorie party food, my rule is this: If I can make it myself, I don't try it if it's not healthy. Everyone chipped in and brought something and when I saw the amazing cornflake cookies my sister made, I knew I had to indulge a little. I stuck with mostly healthy fare—crudités, olives, cheese, and whole-grain crackers. Then I didn't feel bad having a few cornflake cookies!

Use a plate
I always prepare a small plate of food for myself instead of snacking all night on appetizers. It provides me with a visual aid of how much I am eating. It's easy for me to lose track of small bites here and there—over the course of my wine tasting, I could have easily eaten a bunch of burger bites without even realizing, so my plate system really works for me. I can always go back for a refill if I am still hungry.

Survey the scene
I take a moment to soak in the atmosphere of the event instead of making a beeline for the bar. I get a feel for the room, preview the food spread and passed appetizers, and take a peak at the cocktail list before selecting anything to eat or drink. I know if I peck at the first plate of food I see, I'm only setting myself up for disaster. Instead I take a moment to figure out what I really want, and ultimately make healthier choices for myself.

Think before you drink
I like to enjoy a cocktail or two, but once I've had a couple of drinks I find it difficult to turn down a third or fourth glass. And, of course, alcohol also lowers my inhibitions about eating high-calorie foods. Before the night begins, I determine how many cocktails I will have and stick to that number. Toward the end of the evening a bunch of my friends—and my husband too—all cracked open some beers, but I continued to nurse my last glass of wine.

Having healthy friends helps, but my pals aren't exactly the picture of perfect eating! I still had a ton of fun at our party and woke up feeling good about my food the next morning. What are your tricks for staying healthy but still enjoying yourself?

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake