Monday, May 10, 2010

Sweet Rewards

We all love that sweet reward; whether it is for weight loss, exercise compliance, a promotion at work, or an A+ on a test. The tricky part is, what we use to reward ourselves. Rewards are wonderful; however, using food for this purpose may be detrimental. In our American culture, we have learned to eat “emotionally”, which over time leads to a negative relationship with food. Training us to expect food as a reward can certainly add to a growing waistline.

To change the way we reward our children and ourselves, it takes some brainstorming. First of all, think about the fact that your reward for some achievements, may just be the positive consequence that naturally occurs. For instance, my reward for exercising five days this week will be feeling better, weight loss, better sleep, and more energy. If I choose to reward myself with a whole pizza and 2 regular beers, I’ll likely undo all of the progress I made.

Here are some suggestions for ways to reward yourself:

1. A new workout outfit, or any kind of outfit
2. A massage
3. An hour of relaxing by the pool without worrying about things you need to do (you may need your spouse to be in on this reward by watching the kids!)
4. Rent a movie you’ve been wanting to see
5. Get a manicure or pedicure

Suggestions for rewarding children:

1. An extra story before bedtime
2. Rent a short movie for them
3. Take them to the zoo
4. Go for an afternoon at the pool
5. Take them to the park

I would love to hear how you use non-food items to reward yourself or your children! Please post a comment with your ideas!


  1. Great ideas for rewards without weight!

  2. These are some good ideas for non-food "rewards", which we underutilize. I think there's a need for balance here. We certainly enjoy an occasional treat/celebratory dinner after an accomplishment, but we must exercise caution. So, for example, if you're celebrating with ice cream, skip the Ben & Jerry's and go with Edy's Slow Churned for that chocolate ice cream fix.

  3. Erin'sMom: Thanks!

    Busy-Dad-E: I agree that there should be a balance. I don't think there is anything wrong with a celebratory dinner because the main focus is on getting together with family and friends to enjoy a happy time. It is in our culture to celebrate with these types of activities. I was referring more to things like rewarding yourself for getting an A on a test and going straight for a candy bar. Another example would be rewarding a child for being good in the grocery store by giving them a piece of candy. These situations relate good behavior directly to food. Yes, there are gray areas and a need for some balance. My biggest concern is that so many people make the above two scenarios a habit and teach themselves and children to relate their emotions to food. Thanks for your comment, you made great points!