Before we begin, let me just say, I am not here to ban you from celebrating huge milestones with a delicious dinner. There are plenty of legitimate occasions to worthy of some champagne and white table cloths.
You got that huge promotion and want an evening out?
You got engaged and are dining at your favorite Indian place?
Where’s my invite?!
I’m talking about the instinctive need we feel to reward our mundane tasks/major problems with food. I too have been guilty! Treating myself to an entire bag of chips because I deserve them after a terrible awful no good day? Been there. And you know what?It never made me feel any better. About 7 years ago, I read a post on Instagram that said, “Stop rewarding yourself with food. You are not a dog.” Old Nikki read that and was like ouch. Because it’s true! I have a dog. I use this exact tactic to reinforce good habits. The problem with doing this as a human is it has an adverse effect. It reinforces the habit of emotional eating.
What is emotional eating?
“Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food — usually “comfort” or junk foods — in response to feelings instead of hunger” (Medicinenet.com)
This is something I address with almost all of my clients. I always remind them that the comfort we feel from food is fleeting. We might truly forget all of our problems in the time it takes to snack, but let’s be honest. After those 5 minutes of bliss, you’ll be left with your original negative emotions possibly compounded with negative feelings about what you just ate- maybe you weren’t even hungry for it, it doesn’t sit well with you, or it doesn’t align with your current goals.
“Emotional eating” doesn’t always look like that one scene from Bridget Jones Diary (you know the one.) It can also be as sneaky as rewarding ourselves with our favorite dessert because you finally submitted that long winded report. Instead of reaching for sweets when you accomplish something, try treating yourself to something else! Right now, I enjoy picking up flowers for myself. Is spending $7 a week on something that’s just going to die the best way to spend money? Probably not, but there are worse things.
What are some ways you reward yourself that don’t involve food? Do you have any? If you’re looking for inspo, here are some:
Alternate ways to Reward Yourself
- Buy yourself flowers
- Get a mani-pedi
- Take a hot bath and a face mask
- Read a good book
- See a movie
- Do some yoga
- Try something new (pottery class, rock climbing, dance class)
- Get a good cup of coffee
There are so many ways to reward good behavior that are helpful. You don’t have to involve food to celebrate little wins or provide yourself a pick me up. As we’ve seen, there are so many options
Listen for more at my latest podcast episode and connect with me on Instagram.