15 Simple Ways to Celebrate Without Food

by JJ Virgin on July 28, 2017

I'll never forget the time I was working with a group of folks as the health expert for the Dr. Phil show.

These particular guests had worked extremely hard for a full month to dial in their diet and fitness. As a result, they had all achieved their weight loss goals. It was a proud moment for everyone!

After the show was over, I stopped at Starbucks for an unsweetened green tea before the drive home. But what I found there wasn't at all what I was expecting…

Sitting around a table were the very same people who had just achieved major dieting success, all guzzling Frappuccinos – “to celebrate”!

Well, you can imagine my reaction.

Frappuccinos contain a staggering amount of sugar, and drinking even one puts you on a slippery slope. Not only did I toss their syrupy drinks in the trash, but I decided we needed to have a serious chat about food and emotions.

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Why We Eat to Celebrate (& Celebrate to Eat)

All too often, food is used as a reward for achieving a goal or celebrating good news. You might rationalize eating a piece of cake because you think you “deserve” it after all the effort you put into a tough work project.

But when you eat because of emotions rather than hunger, you’re establishing an unhealthy relationship with food.

Most people understand the dangers of turning to food for comfort or solace. However, even when you eat in honor of how good you feel, the end result can still make you feel awful.

It’s not your fault that you think food = fun!

Even as children, we’re trained to associate good times with eating, from birthday cake to Thanksgiving dinner. Most celebrations and gatherings are centered around food, making them feel like special permission to indulge. (Only the Grinch would turn down a platter of holiday cookies, right?)

That becomes a problem if you're trying to stick to a healthy eating plan, and your trigger foods are sitting out in the open. How do you attend a party if you have food intolerances and the table is filled with highly reactive foods?

A Healthier Way to Party

For these reasons and more, it's time for a new way to celebrate!

That chat in Starbucks led to a brainstorming session where we came up with positive ways to reward ourselves. You CAN commemorate happy occasions without turning to food.

When you get creative, the possibilities are endless, and you’ll have more fun and quality time with family and friends, too.

Here are 15 ideas to congratulate yourself and celebrate good times without focusing on food:

  1. Find the nearest playground. Kids know a thing or two about having fun! See who can swing the highest or write inspiring quotes with sidewalk chalk to brighten someone else’s day.
  1. Take your dog for a walk. If you don’t own a pooch, go for a nature walk or track your steps on a fitness tracker and have a competition with friends.
  1. Get a mani/pedi. Don’t want to spend big bucks at a nail salon? Invite some of your besties over and paint each other’s nails.
  1. Play flashlight tag. Pitch a tent in your backyard and have a family campout with outdoor games and spooky campfire stories. (Or make it grown-ups only, and throw in some quirky prizes for the winners.)
  1. Write in a gratitude journal. Jotting down 3 things you're grateful for every day helps you focus on the positive and strengthens your mindset.
  1. Volunteer for a cause you care about. There’s no better way to celebrate something good in your own life than by being a positive influence in someone else’s.
  1. Draw in a sketchbook. Sketching can help you express your emotions, find solutions to problems, and get your creative energy flowing. If drawing doesn’t appeal to you, try making a collage or vision board with magazine pictures or digital images instead.
  1. Have a squirt gun fight. Buy a family pack of water guns and start spraying! In cooler weather, have a pumpkin carving contest or host an outdoor scavenger hunt.
  1. Take pictures. Create a photo album with snapshots from a special event or set up your own photo booth with props and a backdrop to make your own fun.
  1. Watch a funny movie. There’s really no better way to celebrate than with laughter! Rent a comedy to watch at home or treat your sweetheart to a night at the movies.
  1. Write a letter to your family or friends. Telling your loved ones why they’re appreciated is a great way to show you care and spreads the love.
  1. Take a class. Chances are there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but never quite got around to doing. Whether it’s painting, yoga, or knitting class, give yourself permission to try something new.
  1. Dance to your favorite tunes. Listen to a live band or crank up the music in your living room while you move. Nothing makes people smile like a spontaneous dance party!
  1. Take a bath with essential oils. With so many scents to choose from, adding essential oils to your bathwater can transform your bath into a blissful retreat.
  1. Host a board game night. Ask each person to bring a favorite game or play one of the classics like Trivial Pursuit or charades.

Whether you’re celebrating a personal accomplishment or a special occasion with friends and family, it’s important to do it in ways that won’t derail your diet and well-being. This list can help you get started and inspire you to come up with even more ideas of your own!  

No matter what your personal goals are, the end destination is always the same: To feel better than you ever have. My Ultimate Health Roadmap provides short, actionable steps you can take RIGHT NOW to be the best version of you. The guide is FREE, and you can only get it here.

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.