Birthdays, weddings, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, The Superbowl, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Christmas, Graduations, if there is an event… we celebrate! Most of the time we celebrate with food!

Cake, cookies, pies, donuts, brownies, cheesecake, pizza, cheeseburgers, you name it…. it’s involved in the celebration. None of these foods are “bad” foods inherently, but it can be a big problem when one bite leads to an unexpected 3,000 calorie meal. Please tell me that I’m not the only one who had good intentions and literally ate HALF of an entire pie. It’s mortifying. It happens.

Celebration is good! It is healthy, fun, and amazing to celebrate whenever you want to. How can we full-blown celebrate without derailing our health and fitness efforts? Here are a few of my favorite ways to stay on track and still live it up!

Strategy #1: Bring the food you want to eat!

If you know that you are going to be bombarded with tempting food, bring the food you want to eat! I like to bring a veggie platter, a fruit plate, Greek yogurt spinach dip, stuffed mushrooms, a big salad, or lean protein (depending on the occasion) because they are all great options that I feel totally comfortable eating.

I don’t eat red meat and I don’t ever want someone to feel like they have to cook me an extra meal. If you offer to bring something it removes pressure for the host to provide “special” food for you.

Strategy #2: Decide in Advance

Decide what is worth splurging on! I truly believe that there are some foods that just are not worth it. I love donuts (big time. seriously.) but biting into a stale donut is just not worth the calories, saturated fat, and trans fat because frankly, it just doesn’t taste great.

If you take a bite and don’t love it, don’t eat it. It’s just that simple. If you take a bite of queso and it changes your life. Eat a small portion of it, enjoy every bite, and move on without eating the entire bowl.
Strategy #3: Know Yourself

Do you do moderation well? Does one bite strategy really work for you? Does a small piece really lead to 3 helpings? What really works for you? It doesn’t really matter what works for your mom or best friend if it doesn’t work for you too.

I’ve tried so many strategies that work for other people and found that it isn’t realistic for my personality and willpower. If following a particular diet to a T causes you to routinely binge eat later, that doesn’t work for you. If you feel like a crazy maniac on a certain nutrition strategy, it isn’t working for you. Knowing yourself helps you decide on the things that actually help you make progress.

If you know that you easily slide down a slippery slope, just dodge the temptation completely. If you know that you have good willpower to eat a little and leave the rest, go for it!

Strategy #4: Drink extra water before you go (or if you are hosting, before the celebration starts)

Drinking extra water helps you feel full! Drink a big glass of water to help fill your stomach. When you feel fuller you are less likely to binge eat.

Strategy #5: Count the Cost and Prepare

If you know you are going to royally blow it calorically (and I believe that it is okay to do that if you want to) put in some extra cardio and/or strength training earlier that day.

I never like to use exercise as a punishment, so I wouldn’t ever want to send the message that we need to burn off what we ate (I think that puts us in a negative mindset.) But I love pre-exercising knowing that we can go into any event prepared to just get after it and have no shame!

Have fun and pay attention. You are worth the effort!

With my love,

Dr. Monique Middlekauff

About the Author

Dr. Monique Middlekauff is a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). She has been a certified personal trainer with the NSCA, ACSM, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) for over 10 years. Monique is certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and is an Exercise is Medicine Level 3 credentialed provider. Monique works for a major health system in Idaho. Her goal is to pursue health and overall well being through evidence-based practice. Physical wellness comes in many forms, and she seeks to celebrate where you are, and challenge you to be better! Find more information about Monique at