What’s Your Reward System?

Original Image by GotCredit via Flickr
Original Image by GotCredit via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

You know when you know something, but until the information’s presented to you, you don’t really acknowledge the information or “know” the information?  Do you understand what I’m saying?  Does that ever happen to you?  That happens to me more often than I’d like to think.

When my father was put on a liquid diet last year to help with inflammation and his problems with GERD that didn’t just change our family dynamics, but made me realize how much food is a part of our lives.  Sounds like a dumb realization?  However, if you think about it, how many events, gatherings, rewards, coping mechanisms in your life revolve around food?

There are more times than I can count where I suggested that my parents and I go grab food as a “reward” for something great that had happened in the past week.  My mother always has her head on straight and would constantly have to remind me that Dad wouldn’t be able to eat anything and it wasn’t realistic or considerate to expect him to sit there while we enjoyed the food in front of him.  I wouldn’t consider myself an inconsiderate person, but society has ingrained in us to equate celebration and reward with food.

Just tonight, it was my last counseling class and what did we do celebrate the end of the grueling semester?  Everyone brought in food!  I’m sure if you’ve got a large social circle and vast amount of family members, the celebrations are endless.  Although it’s great to catch up with friends and family, why does it always have to be surrounded by food?

Food’s basic premise is for fuel for the body, but as a society, we have groomed our minds to equate food with all social events.  Even more somber events, such as funerals.  You can’t have a funeral without some food, can you?  That’s just not socially acceptable.

My goal for myself and all the readers to move away from the mindset of having food at every event, every pitfall, every celebration, etc. With every day’s challenges and rewards bound to bring some reason to celebrate or grumble, our waistline will not win that battle.  This constant reward system can become a viscous cycle for some.  For example, they can’t help but “treat” themselves with the new promotion at work, doing well on a  paper or treating their girlfriends out.  Then with all this spending and eating out, they become upset with themselves and wallow in the fact they weren’t able to handle self control.

Has that ever happened to you?  Feeling guilty about eating that extra bite just because you could, not because you were hungry?  As stated before, being healthy is a mind, body and soul lifestyle.  My point isn’t to decrease your awards, every one deserves a pat on the back once in a while, but lessening the dependence on food related rewards will provide you with a clearer conscious and healthier eating habits.  Another plus, your wallet will thank you and you can do some other great “rewarding” things in your life.  Check out some healthier, non food related rewards that you may be interested in incorporating into your life.

Healthier rewards:

  • Take a relaxing bubble bath
  • Meditate
  • Change up your hairstyle
  • Dance party!
  • Go on a trip you’ve been putting off–anything from locally to internationally
  • Dive into a favorite guilty pleasure show
  • Getting a manicure
  • Go for after the dinner stroll
  • Spend quality time with the kids

What rewards have helped you in the past and present?

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