Food as Reward or Comfort

“I deserve this.  It’s my reward for _________.”

Ever said that?  I have. 

And it is often the lie of self-sabotage.

Our culture supports it, and it’s still a bit like our collective gremlin that pops out when we can’t get what we want or believe we’re being minimized or in some other way demands a treat. We’ve incorporated the idea that food is a reward for getting through a tough situation, a hard project, stress, or anything else we feel justifies allowing ourselves to eat or drink something that isn’t the best for us.

In the kindest possible way, I want to ask:  How does food actually help?

Logically, we know it doesn’t because food doesn’t address the issue.  It’s there.  It soothes in the moment, but it has the boomerang effect of remorse or guilt, and the issue is no nearer to being resolved. 

Physically, it may give us a quick hit of pleasure, particularly if it hits the trifecta of the bliss point, but the longer-term consequences tend to cancel out that immediate gratification.

Emotionally – there’s some association we’ve made between our emotions and putting something in our mouths, but again, it doesn’t last.  It may make us feel nearer someone we love or bring up good memories, but we could think through those memories without a cookie.

Using food to reward or soothe ourselves is settling.  What we want is for the issue to be resolved or our contribution to be acknowledged, but we’ll settle for (insert your food of choice).   Does that do it for you?

We’ve made a habit of using food for reward or comfort, and therefore, we can unwind that habit.  It takes time, but you can do it.  So what would be a more satisfying way to soothe or celebrate?  Give yourself some time and grace to practice the new way. 

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