6 Top Tips To Stop Using Food As Rewards
We learn from birth that food is some kind of reward (after all, a crying baby gets a bottle or a breast through comfort). As we get older, our parents often allow us to have dessert only after dinner (refer to the dessert as a "treat" while the vegetables are what on our plate?).
Or grandmas and grandfathers indulge their grandchildren with candy after school because they are “good,” or, as I have seen many times, candy is offered through bribery for good behavior or, worse, comfort when a child is hurt or sad.
So it's no wonder that many of us have a tendency to automatically associate positive emotions such as pleasure and joy with food. As adults, this may manifest itself in the belief that after a day of hard work, we "deserve" a treat or fast food (is fast food really a treat?) Or "something beautiful" (i.e., sweet). or maybe a glass of wine the evening after the kids go to bed.
Is It Really a Reward?
It is believed that over 85% of obese people have this tendency to use food as a reward. The influence of advertising only reinforces this association with the underlying concept that we can be happy in a bar of chocolate or at the bottom of a drink. When you think about it, the first thing to ask yourself is, "Is my happiness really about consuming something?" Or, on the contrary, happiness is something that comes from within. a feeling that we have rather than a product that we buy?
Don't get me wrong: I like to enjoy some of my favorite foods a few times a week. But I see them as a small departure from my usual eating plan rather than an everyday thing. And I enjoy every sip (see “Eating mindfully” below). Eating is undoubtedly a very enjoyable aspect of our lives, but it is ultimately just fuel, so it is unnecessary at best and quite damaging to our relationship at worst to tie a whole range of emotions to it.
When using food as a reward, we explain to our clients at Motivation that the pleasure will soon be outweighed by the punishment for how we feel afterwards (sometimes bloated and overweight). Of course, this isn't always the case, but if we use food too often as a reward it becomes, in some ways, our prison.
Here are our 6 top tips on how to stop using food as a reward and change that relationship.
1. Avoid labeling food as “good” or “bad”.
While you might think that labeling foods as "good" or "bad" can help you lose weight, research shows the opposite. In fact, this penetrates our subconscious and really keeps us caught in the guilt loop of eating the "wrong" foods, then beating ourselves up and trying to give up.
Using "bad foods" as a means to reward us when we feel bad leads to a deeply unhealthy emotional relationship with food. So quit it now. Most foods nourish us, and those that don't (such as high-calorie and high-sugar foods) are okay but only consumed in moderation rather than saying "never".
2. Start eating mindfully and pay attention to your language
Slow down and enjoy the food you are eating. Avoid the temptation to "devour" breakfast or lunch – you will only feel deprived and may want to "reward" yourself with something sweet later in the day, mainly because you feel unsatisfied. Try to eat slowly and carefully. Not only will this help satisfy your cravings in a healthy way, but it will also help your body digest the food more efficiently. It can also help you tell when you are full before you have eaten too much, as it takes around 20 minutes for your body to signal your brain that you are indeed full.
Also, pay attention to your reward habits, and look for languages like "Sure You Only Live Once!" and "Sure You Deserve a Reward!" – either by yourself or by those around you. Change it to "I want to enjoy good food with my family friends" and "Excessive indulgence doesn't mean I have a better time." Or “Weight loss means I have to be careful every day of the week. Why should I sabotage this just because it's a Saturday? "
3. List the benefits
At least once a week, remind yourself of the amazing rewards you can enjoy from choosing a healthier lifestyle. As you keep losing weight, you will feel great, improve your health, and gain energy, vitality, and more confidence. You can climb these stairs without getting out of breath. You will have more fun playing with your children or grandchildren and you will surely enjoy putting on this elegant dress or shirt for an event.
In fact, almost everything is more fun when you reach a healthy weight, from choosing what clothes to wear each morning to feeling the energy you have while out for a walk or at a social occasion – regularly remind yourself of how far you've come and how good it feels. No reward beats this feeling.
4. Set up non-food rewards
Notice your habits of rewarding yourself. does it happen especially on days off or on weekends? If so, it is important that you enter a non-food or alcohol-related reward on a Friday night to break the habit. Maybe book for a massage, manicure or facial? Treat yourself to a new piece of clothing, a new book or a DVD to sit and watch with the family, or book tickets to a show or to the cinema.
Also, every couple of days, make sure you do nice things for yourself that aren't about food (like taking a bath, reading a good book, or doing something creative, whether it's gardening, knitting, or woodworking – it doesn't matter what it is as long as you enjoy it).
Or, buy something related to your new, healthier lifestyle, like a new blender, cookbook, or exercise equipment. If weekends are a problem for you, take some time on Friday evenings to help plan what to do over the weekend. Make a grocery shopping list and decide what to eat in advance. Try to stick with it as best you can, but accept it and move on if you have a slip up.
5. Be nice to yourself
Reward is associated with weekends as it is often associated with fatigue and comfort. Make sure you develop a good sleep routine to ensure clear thinking and the ability to make better decisions. Practice some self-compassion and kindness as well. Often times, we reach for food to relieve difficult emotions and anxieties.
And too often we are our worst critics.
Write on one page of what you think you are “failing” or doing wrong, then write down a more rational point of view. What are you doing right or what are you doing well? You might be surprised what comes out; Usually people find that they are overly tough and doing the best job possible, whether it is about their parenting, career, or dealing with stress.
It's okay to moan every now and then and admit that things are difficult, but beating ourselves up won't help. In fact, the opposite is true; Kindness to ourselves and self-compassion go a long way and affect all areas of our lives.
6. Don't get overly hungry
It sounds obvious, but a lot of people get it wrong and then wonder why they keep eating the wrong foods.
Fluctuating blood sugar levels leave us wide open to reaching for sugary or carbonated foods to “fix” our low blood sugar levels (be especially careful of the morning or afternoon “crash” where so many people go wrong). Opt for a protein snack like Babybel cheese, some Greek yogurt with berries, or a motivational protein bar.
Make sure you eat regularly throughout the day (every 3-4 hours is our golden rule). This way you won't be tempted to overeat due to hunger later. When we are excessively hungry, we are physiologically programmed to reach for higher calorie foods and eat a larger serving that we need.
So we want to stop using food as a reward and reward ourselves in new and great ways this year!