Gathering with family and friends for events and holidays can be full of merriment. But what about the food? Attending a party or meal with a shared menu may be exciting and fun for omnivores, but such experiences can be downright troubling and stressful for people who can’t (or don’t) eat certain foods.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 17 percent of Americans are on a restricted or “special” diet. The reasons vary: Some people are working to manage their weight, blood pressure, or cholesterol, for example. People who live with a chronic illness, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or psoriatic disease, may find that a healthy eating plan helps them manage their symptoms.

Whatever the reason for your dietary restrictions, there are ways for you to attend and enjoy celebrations and dinners without awkwardness or guilt.