When I lose 20 pounds, I’ll get that Malnati’s pizza. If I run 20 miles this week, I’ll get that ice cream. If you clean up your toys, you can have the cookies.
How many times have I made food a reward for myself or my kids? Answer: Too many!
I’ve made food so central to my life that overindulging is a reward for discipline. This is common in our society and it needs to stop.
Food is fuel. Food is part of some traditions and celebrations. Food is NOT a way to reward discipline or desired behavior.
When food is a reward, the power it holds becomes magnified. The pizza becomes a revered mythical creature worthy of chasing by any means necessary. Ice cream ends up holding an inordinately large role in our lives.
In other words, our intentions and goals change to pursue the reward, food. The desired goals are shifted from weight loss and health to pizza and ice cream. The short-term pleasure provided by our favorites foods dominate and the long-term goals are overshadowed.
The way to change this is simple – food cannot be a reward for desired behavior. Instead, the actual goal must remain the focus.
Rewards for reaching goals need to be redefined. Maybe it is a personal day off or a quick weekend trip with the family. Maybe it is new clothes or that latest tech gadget you’ve been eyeing. Or maybe, just maybe, reaching the goal becomes the greatest reward of all.