Food Isn’t A Reward


I heard it again the other day… it makes me twitch… it makes me feel sorry for people… it makes me wanna shake them… I refrain.

What is it you ask that evokes such emotion in me? I shall tell you.

Hearing someone say…. “well, I ate to much yesterday so I really need to put in some extra work out time”

Maybe around the holidays you start seeing these cheesy meme’s pop up with various treats on them and if you ate whatever treat you have to do so many specific exercises to work it off. Often there’s the slogan “Negate what you ate!” over it.


These thoughts make me nuts.

First of all, you cannot work off what you did the day before. You can get up and start over and keep moving forward.

OR do you flip it with thoughts like this… ” I worked out really hard today I deserve this!” or “it’s been a hard day, it’s my reward”

We have to stop looking at food as a punishment and reward system. We need to stop treating exercise as a punishment for our bad eating behavior, like it’s a necessary chore to be done so we can eat or so we can reward ourselves with food.

Do you see how twisted it all is?

Food shouldn’t be used as a reward and we shouldn’t have a view that exercise is punishment for us.

Yet, it is a common thought for way to many people today.

Food should be used to nurture and fuel our bodies. It should be enjoyed and savored in a reasonable way.

When we over eat or binge there can be a tendency to maybe think we can alter or change what we’ve taken in. We feel bad about what we’ve done so we do things like extra hard or extra long workouts to balance it out. Or we excessively cut our food intake.

Or we THINK we are balancing it out.

We have a distorted view of exercise that it’s a punishment we must endure ( ok, in all fairness, in the beginning you might feel that way 😉

But it shouldn’t be something you churn out to feel ok about having food.

You don’t have to make apologies for having food to nourish your body.

You don’t need to punish your body if you’ve eaten more than you think you should have.

You don’t have to resort to extreme restrictions of food if you over did it at a meal.

Do you see how binging/over indulging/ followed by “must do” exercise to feel better about our choices can become a vicious cycle?

Let’s face it. Food emotionally comforts us. For some of you it’s wine/alcohol or soda. Regardless, we have to stop using it as a reason to comfort ourselves.. or as a reward system.

Whatever the thing is we medicate ourselves with.

You may have never thought of it like that, did you? That “thing” we reach for when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, feeling lost or having a bad day. It medicates our hurts, anxieties and emotions. It calms our stress. It feeds whatever is in us that hurts, is angry, tired etc

Becoming aware of the pattern in your life is the first step to successfully altering your behaviors around it.

Abusing yourself with to much food or drink and then seeking to “atone” for what you’ve done by killing yourself with exercise is disjointed thinking at best.

Nor, is it nurturing to your body.

Practicing a moderate approach in our lives brings health and wellness, but it’s not without some work and discipline.

Learn to develop the practice of viewing exercise as movement for your body that brings health, wellness, and mental clarity. If you have goals beyond that, you will obviously need to increase your game.

Learn to approach all foods in balance and moderation . If you feel the need to over indulge or you are heading to the pantry for a feeding frenzy, try and remove yourself from the situation, that often can break the plans you have. It let’s you regroup and refocus. Or try calling a friend, going for a walk,  or any activity to distract you.

Perhaps have some goals written out that are easily accessible will make you stop and ask yourself if it’s really going to be worth it… because after the rewards or indulgence… we will always mentally feel bad for allowing ourselves to go there.

With practice, mental awareness and a bit of stubborn determination,  you can break the cycle of over eating/rewarding with foods and abusing exercise.

Have you ever found yourself in this cycle? What tips or ideas helped you break away from it?