rewardsI have way too many bad food habits.  I binge eat, stress eat and eat for rewards.  My parents were pretty good at getting us to eat or vegetables, so where did I pick up all these bad habits?  I blame my early twenties.  At 18, I moved out on my own to attend school in the city.  I had my own job with my own responsibilities.  I had this way of telling myself ‘you’re an adult now, you can eat what you want!’.  I’m not sure where that came from, but it took me right through my early twenties without stopping.  Now, at 28, I have all kinds of eating problems.

Rewarding myself with food is a big one.  For some reason, I love to celebrate with food.  When I’m eating really well, I reward myself with good foods like berries and organic steak.  But when I’m not eating healthy, I reward myself with extra cheese pizza’s and two bags of skittles.  For some reason, the reward center in my brain is stuck on food.

I’ve come up with a few tricks to help me get through this.  I’ve found success in them myself, so it’s not based on anything other than my experience.

1.) Magazines.  There is nothing like sitting down with a good magazine full of fashion and ideas.  But I often don’t buy them for myself because I can’t justify the cost when I have Pinterest.  Then I think about it.  I’m going to spend $10 on some sort of junk food to take home and reward myself.  $10 I don’t need to spend, and certainly shouldn’t be spending on junk food.  My brain justifies that cost because I feel I deserve it.  A magazine costs $5-$7 depending on what it is (and that’s local costs, not imported costs).  I walk to the store for a reward and I buy a magazine to reward my hard work instead of the junk food.  Sometimes I have to talk myself through justifying the cost, but in the end, I end up spending less on the magazine than I do on the junk food.

2.) Shoes.  I promise this whole list isn’t going to be $$$.  But shoes are the best way I reward myself.  I love shoes.  There’s nothing like strutting around in brand new shoes.  You can feel like a new person.  I walk past all the food vendors and corner store, and I go to a place like Winners.  I’ll spend a good amount on shoes, but you don’t always need too.  Winners has name brand shoes for a good price.  The trick here is to get past those check stands filled to the bring with discounted sweets and strut away in your new shoes.

3.) Good foods.  This one is getting away from food, but it switches the food up.  Instead of going to the corner store and buying $5 worth of candy, I go to whole foods and by $5 word of organic raspberries.  Why is it that $5 for candy seems cheap, but $5 for food seems expensive?  I never buy berries because they seem like too much.  But when I sit down with a bowl full of raspberries, I enjoy them way more than I would a bowl of candy.  Why?  Because candy never makes me feel good afterwards.  All the enjoyment of junk food is in the eating it.  But with a good food, you enjoy both eating it an how you feel afterwards.  Treat yourself with something you might consider decadent.  Figs are also one of my go-to’s.  I always think of figs as something too expensive, and yet I can get a couple for $5, drizzle a little balsamic reduction over them, and it’s like the most delicious snack ever!!

4.) A day off to pamper.  For me, there’s nothing better than a day where I take care of myself.  And yet, it’s something I almost never do.  It’s a little strange that I actually have to plan to give myself so pampering.  I make sure I have enough food in the house, good food, so I don’t have to go out or order in.  Then I spend a few hours on myself.  I have a long bubble bath, shave my legs, exfoliate, do a face mask, paint my nails, deep condition my hair… the list goes on.  There are so many ways to make you feel awesome.  And what better way to reward yourself for achieving something than to make you feel even better!!

5.) Cappuccino and the paper.  My Sunday morning ritual is one of the things I enjoy the most.  It’s kind of strange because I don’t know when it started, but I don’t fight it.  I get up in the morning, wash my face and brush my teeth, dress in something comfortable, then walk to this great little coffee shop about five blocks away.  I order a cappuccino, grab whatever local paper they have, then sit down to read it.  Here’s why this ritual is weird.  I’m not a coffee drinker anymore.  I never have coffee during the week.  And I never read the paper.  At most, I read the headlines posted on my social media feeds.  But this Sunday morning ritual is one of my all time favorite moments every week.  It’s a reward all in itself.

6.) Drinks with friends.  This isn’t getting away from calories, but think about it as going out for a nice glass or two of wine.  I love going out with friends, but there’s often something big happening where a bunch of people are coming.  What I love to do is call one or two friends, go out specifically just to have a glass of wine, and chat.  It’s low key, you can get dressed up, you can try different drinks, and it’s always fun.  This one can cost some $$$ though, so if you’re on a limited budged, make sure you’re not breaking the bank.

I tend to have a justification for spending a bit of money on my rewards, because I’m replacing rewards I would be spending money on.  Buying junk food is part of my budget, which is stupid.  But if I’m not spending it on junk food, I do have a little extra for other rewards.  If you have no budget, I’d love to hear what kinds of things you do to reward yourself for your excellent work, whatever it is.  Any idea to get me away from junk food would be very welcome.


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