Food as a Reward

Tonight I wanted to discuss a new habit I’ve started in recent weeks – treating myself to a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee & a veggie egg white flatbread on Friday mornings.

Prod-Drink-Coffee-Hot Dunkin Donuts:  ÒEgg White Veggie FlatbreadÓ with red and green peppers among the vegetable bits flavoring the egg whites. Cost: $2.99

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This “special treat” is sort of like a reward to myself for making it through another week. This work week was particularly exhausting, so I thought I deserved it this morning more than ever.

It got me to thinking about food as a reward.

This mentality is nothing new to me. Special occasions – whether they be large or small – are usually celebrated with food, at least in my life.

There have been countless studies done on rewarding children with food (& the negative impact of such actions), but I couldn’t find much out there on adults with this mentality.

I did find a few articles; however, most of them deal with weight loss & food rewards, not food rewards for other accomplishments. If you’re interested, here are some articles worth taking a look at:

What I was able to find suggested breaking the habit of “food rewards” & using other treats to acknowledge good behavior or the completion of a daunting tasks. For example, instead of stopping at Dunkin Donuts, perhaps I could reward myself with a new magazine to relax with at some point over the weekend.

I’m really curious to hear feedback from everyone…

Do you find yourself using food as a reward? Do you see this as a “problem”? If you don’t use food as a reward, do you still find it necessary to reward yourself for a job well done (in any facet of life!)?

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16 comments

  1. Ashley @ Eating Tech says:

    I really struggle with stopping to recognize and appreciate my own accomplishments. So for me, marking an accomplishment with a reward forces me to be present in the moment. Getting a magazine to relax after an especially rough week sounds appropriate, or a new workout outfit for hitting a weight loss goal! I think rewards should support the good behavior that lead to the accomplishment, not serve as a cheat from the good behavior :)
    Ashley @ Eating Tech recently posted..Guess Who’s Back?!My Profile

    • 4thesakeofcake says:

      I totally agree! My mom used to do Weight Watchers & I remember her telling me that one of the things that the emphasized was to not reward weight loss with a certain food. It definitely seems contradictory. I’m not really sure if that applies to me since I’m not rewarding weight loss with food, but I’m still unsure of how valid “food rewards” are in general!

      • Miss Meghan @ scratch-made wife says:

        I thought of WW as soon as I read this because I remember going years ago and having the leaders encourage us to buy new clothes or just about ANYTHING other than food when we needed a reward. That makes sense because rewarding weight loss with food could just undo the whole weight loss! But I think your reward is fine – you aren’t rewarding weight loss and you aren’t eating, like, a pan full of brownies at the end of every difficult week.

        I definitely like food rewards, though I know this is a habit I shouldn’t continue once we have little people in the house. The husband and I aren’t overweight and understand that sweets and food rewards need to be kept in check, but I think that’s hard to express to kids. Old habits die hard for us, I guess.
        Miss Meghan @ scratch-made wife recently posted..What I Ate Wednesday: Week 6My Profile

        • 4thesakeofcake says:

          I agree with not passing this habit on to children someday. Right away I think of people potty-training their kids… I’m sure you’ve heard of people rewarding their child with an M&M or something when they go to the bathroom. Again, I’m not sure that’s so extremely harmful that I won’t do it; I guess it just all depends on the situation & extent of the reward being offered!

          • susan says:

            To me, rewarding for Potty training is easy to fall into , and I would never recommend it. I also think that it’s the start of exactly the topic were talking about. Teaching that its okay to reward with food.

          • 4thesakeofcake says:

            I will take your word on this Susan; you definitely have way more experience than I do! Luckily, I won’t have to worry about this for quite some time! :-)

  2. Lauren says:

    Oh I always use food as a reward! Every doctor’s visit, I stop at Starbucks as a way to treat myself for having to go through what I do. Really if there wasn’t starbucks I would absolutely still go through it, but a soy misto does make it a little more bearable. :) Happy weekend darling!
    Lauren recently posted..On Being InspirationalMy Profile

  3. Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles says:

    Such an interesting topic. I do use food as a reward but it is mainly to celebrate- even if it is a reward or celebration I don’t take it overboard but I know I would have much more of a problem with this if I didn’t live in the middle of nowhere. In order for me to reward myself with food- I have to make it. Boooo! So, it doesn’t feel like much of a reward. But when I do make it to the city- I reward myself with fro-yo deliciousness!!!!
    Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles recently posted..Grasshopper Pie…. that is healthy!My Profile

    • 4thesakeofcake says:

      Well put! I suppose my “special breakfast” is more of a celebration & it’s not like I’m eating a gigantic piece of cake or something! :-) Have a great weekend Julie!

  4. Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance says:

    I’ve always told myself that when I have children, I will never ever offer them fast food or baked goods as a reward for anything. It gives me the shivers to think of, because it reminds me of the way that Popcorn goes nuts whenever I reach for his treat bag. I don’t want my children to be like my dog!

    As far as adults, I think it depends what the food is. If someone is offering themselves a McDonalds binge for passing a test or something, then we’ve got problems
    Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance recently posted..My Calorie-Counting Boyfriend?My Profile

    • 4thesakeofcake says:

      I totally agree — on both accounts! I definitely see where it’s a problem to do this with children, but I think for adults, it can depend on exactly what the food is/how often you’re “rewarding” youself.

  5. Lindsay @ biking before bed says:

    I think that we get engrained from childhood that unhealthy foods are good rewards. These habits carry over into adulthood. I still find myself rewarding myself with ice cream on occasion but I try to choose healthy food rewards too. Like trying a new Cliff bar flavor or getting lunch at Whole Foods.
    Lindsay @ biking before bed recently posted..Friday FavoritesMy Profile

  6. Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life says:

    I am definitely guilty of rewarding myself with food! Especially on special events like my Birthday or Thanksgiving, or even my one or two cheat meals a week! I am sure it isn’t the best idea, but I try to enjoy the company and experience that comes along with the food too, not just the meal itself!
    Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life recently posted..Road TripMy Profile

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