It is important to reward yourself positively whether it be for weight loss, a job well done, or reaching a goal you never thought you would achieve.

Quite often we instantly think of food as a reward, celebrating with a meal out, drinks with friends, or a night in on the couch with your favourite movie, take away and munchies. A lot of people use food as a reward to recognise both their success and their failures. This is a learned behaviour which may create an inner conflict when trying to manage weight. It isn’t impossible to change this behaviour but patience is required. This type of reward system is instilled in us over many years; it will take time to control it. Below are some tips to help you manage this trigger.

Make a list of Non-Food Rewards that Make You Feel Good
It doesn’t matter what it is on your reward list as long as it makes you feel good and doesn’t involve food or alcohol. We’re all different in what gives us pleasure so whatever you find enjoyable write it down.

For Example:
– Take some guilt free you-time
– Read your favourite book
– Buy yourself a bunch of flowers
– Go for a round of golf
– Go see a movie
– Book a night away
– Get your nails done
– Do something new- this can be powerful when it’s something you have wanted to do for a long time but didn’t have the confidence or time to do it.

If you stick this list up somewhere in the kitchen where it will be in your eyeline, it may help you resist giving into temptation when seeking food as a reward.

Remember Why You are Celebrating
Remember a meal out to celebrate a recent success is not about the food it’s about the success and enjoying it with the people around you. The food is purely a medium that brings us all together.

Know your Triggers
Are you an emotional eater? Do you eat when you’re bored, tired, stressed, anxious etc? If you can recognise these causes then you can mentally prepare for them. Remind yourself that eating the chocolate bar when you’re stressed won’t remove the issue that’s causing you to feel stressed. In fact, eating the chocolate bar will induce stress and cause a sugar crash not long after. This can affect your mood and result in you becoming snappy and/or feeling down. If you are an emotional eater, your way to cope with low mood is to comfort eat. It is a vicious cycle that requires patience and awareness if you are to change

These are just a few ways of helping you make healthy choices each day. Learning to reward ourselves with things other than food is a challenge as we have been brought up this way. Everything around us TV, papers, magazines, Internet, etc, tells us to reward ourselves with food or drink. The key to change is repetition and awareness. If you are aware of rewarding yourself with food then you can put the action into changing this habit.

Blog Post by Michael O'Brien