Monday, April 02, 2012

Happy Birthday Haru!!

It was my dog's 5th birthday yesterday and as I was driving home on Friday night, I was pondering how to 'celebrate' it.  I've never really been one to humanize my dog.  I wasn't going to have a dog party or really do anything different.  It was supposed to (and did) rain all day Saturday so he wasn't going to get a special trip to the park or anything.  So my mind went back to food ~ what special treat could I give my dog.

Then, as tends to happen when I drive home, my mind wandered from that to thinking about how I use food to reward myself and how while growing up food was used to reward me (wohoo, my mom treat trained me just like I did Haru!)  and I realized that bad food to me is a reward, a highly valuable reward.  Being able to eat something I know is unhealthy, high in fat, calories, sugar and all sorts of naughty stuff triggers a pleasure response; it makes me extremely happy.  I know it is a conditioning response in me, just like Pavlov's dogs (wohoo, more proof I'm a dog!) and I did a little research when I got home to confirm what I remember reading before.

Mainly, high-calorie foods trigger an addiction response and certain studies have shown that our bodies crave "comfort" foods when we are exposed to prolong continued stress.  I think in today's world, many of us are exposed to a consistently high level of stress just trying to survive.  For me, as a reward for getting through a high stress day or activity, I eat bad.  Chocolate, fried foods, things smothered in butter or sugar or cream sauces.  That is my reward and by choosing it, I only want it more.

How many of us do that?  How many of us say to ourselves "If I get past this deadline, I'll reward myself with that chocolate bar that has been calling my name from the vending machine."  I do it on a regular basis!  It works for me as a reward!  It doesn't work when I let myself have 4 chocolate bars instead of half of one.

I know many weight loss sites and support groups recommend that you use non-food rewards to help yourself to your weight loss goal.  I've tried that and failed.  Food is my ultimate motivator.

However, since I'm not in a race to loose the weight as fast as possible (well, technically I am, post to follow on that)  if I can reward myself with a certain food treat for eating well the other 80% of the time ~ maybe it will work.  Maybe by not denying myself foods I crave (bubble tea, cookie dough, chocolate, french fries) but only allowing myself those foods in small doses only after I've accomplished something I will learn moderation.

Food can't be the only reward, but it is a darn effective one!  I'm willing to try anything at this point.

Question: What is your opinion on food rewards?

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