Saturday, March 7, 2009

Eating is not a reward!

Like most people I work Monday through Friday with weekends off. I know, some of you don't have the same schedule as me but we all have our days off, right? Well, for most of my working life, I view the weekend as a time for fun, entertainment, socializing with friends, and eating. Now that I'm older the focus is mostly on eating with visions of mexican food, chips and salsa, and Dove bars.

During the week I have this mindset of eating healthy and following the plan I've chosen to lose weight and usually, I don't feel tempted. But by Friday evening I start thinking about eating something "special" or "fattening." Like I owe it to myself to have something special since I've worked so hard or I've cleaned house. I've earned the right to go out or order in or buy something non-diet by gosh and I'm hell-bent on making sure I get what I deserve! I reward myself for eating healthy all week by eating unhealthy foods on the weekend. There is something terribly wrong with how my brain thinks about this!

Last weekend I decided to have a food fest to shock my system?! What the crap kind of thinking was that? I loaded up on salty and fatty foods (Tex-Mex, cookies, candy, popcorn, etc.) and came away gaining almost 4 lbs. Oh, yeah, it was such a nice reward!

You might say that this week I had an "Aha!" moment. It occurred to me that my thinking is really screwed up if by rewarding myself I'm actually sabotaging my efforts at losing this weight! Profound, ain't it?! Rocket science should have been one of my goals for sure! I've spent this week taking off the pounds that my reward last weekend cost me.

I'm going to learn from this and move on. My weekend eating needs to be as healthy as my weekday eating. My reward system needs a serious makeover. I don't have any extra money so I need to come up with rewards that are not costly and not food. Please, please, please share any ideas or ways you reward yourself that don't involve food. I need some help retraining my brain to not look at food as a reward.

Have a good weekend and if the weather is good to you, ride, walk, or jog outside! Eat your veggies and don't forget to put your clock ahead one hour!


  1. I typed this huge response to your post (11 paragraphs), then decided it would be better to just blog my reply...

    The subject is close to my heart.

  2. For me, if I'm seeking out foods that are not part of my eating plan, then there is something else going on. I'm trying to fill some other need with food. Right now, I'm trying to delve a little deeper and figure out what I'm getting from the "out of bounds" eating. If I can figure out the non-food need, then I can figure out the non-food solution.

    Great post!

  3. I used to reward myself with food on the weekend too. Now I actually eat less on the weekend just for that reason. I'm still working on what to reward myself with. I do it with magazines now. Not that expensive. Or if you can just eat one sample at See's that's not too bad.

  4. I do the same thing...try and eat healthy during the weekdays and on the weekends...look out! Sorry...I don't have any tips on changing this because I am in the same boat.

  5. What a tough question! I haven't figured out the answer to it either. Course you already knew that or I wouldn't be so fat. Why oh why did our parents reward us with food when we were little?

    And to beat it all my Mother never liked to eat. She loved to cook and loved to watch others eat but she never ate but a bite or two of anything she cooked or baked.

    I can remember setting at the table crying and gagging trying to get down the mashed potatoes I'd put on my plate. She wouldn't let me get up until I'd finished them.

    So, if you find an answer to your question, please to share with the world.

  6. Hi Tena!

    I've read your blog for a while now, but this is my first comment.

    I know what you're going through trying to break the habit of food rewards. For me, the problem isn't allowing food to be a treat, but allowing really unhealthy food and/or excessive quantities of food to be the treat. So I came up with a list of foods I really like that fit within my plan (some subject to careful portion control), and use those as treats. For example, I love sea scallops. The fresh ones are a bit of an indulgence from a cost perspective, but they're a great food for my fitness plan. When I feel like a treat, I have those for dinner. Another example - I love Godiva's dark chocolate cherries. When I'm in the mood for a treat, I eat a measured portion and make sure I journal it.

  7. I think you're onto something here!

    I don't see a problem with a "splurge" on the weekends, but not all the fun stuff at once. LOL
    Maybe just limit it to chips OR candy OR popcorn.

    You're on the right track!

  8. hey Tena!
    I love love love this post. I do this all the time too.

    I've tried not to, but its a lifetime habit - from how I was rewarded as a child to how I made myself feel good in college to today.

    Thanks for bringing this one up so that I can think of it more too.

  9. What a useful insight! How about rewarding yourself with a walk in a beautiful spot? It doesn't have to be a sweaty powerwalk... it can be a dreamy meander in your local botanical garden. Or have a healthy picnic somewhere? Lie on grass and look at the clouds...

    The idea is to do something that will feed your spirit, not your tummy!

  10. Hanlie is so right! Finding things that make you happy inside. That is what the food is doing (well not really just the taste buds). Lately I've tried just making time for "me" things here and there. Listening to music I like (the guys have different tastes ;-) ), a long peaceful bath, window shopping, that sort of thing. I'm looking forward to gardening (I can get lost in that).
    There have been times I took the money I would have spent on the "junk foods" and saved it up each tempting reward time and then went later after it added up and picked up a special little non food treat with it. Mom's money stash, ha.

  11. I find days off are the hardest because I'm of of my routine. My schedule is never the same from week to week, but a lot of the people in the Monday WW meeting I go to choose to weigh in Monday morning to keep themselves 'honest' over the weekend.

    I used to do the food reward after a good weigh in, too. It took months and months to get over that. I still eat those foods from time to time, mind you, but it's no longer weigh in related.