Note from a fellow bariatric patient…
Do you use food as a reward?
I do…and I just realized it. Let me explain. I developed a bad habit of sitting in front of the TV and snacking in the evening. It was adding calories, especially carbs, as my nighttime choices tended to be unhealthy. So, for the past month, my goal was not to eat after 7 pm in the evening.
About two weeks into my ban on evening eating, I noticed that the end of my day didn’t feel “finished.” Something was missing...and that something was food. I realized that I was using food to “complete” my day; basically, a reward for a hard day's work. Not eating created a “hole” at the end of each day….an uneasiness that was unmistakable.
I shouldn’t be surprised by this revelation as food has often been a reward for many of us. I remember my favorite birthday cake, my parents taking me for ice cream after I went to the dentist, and pizza parties at school for achieving some goal.
Over time, this created an association between positive experiences and special treats. Food has always been the “pot of gold” at the end of many happy rainbows. I never understood how this previously positive association was now undermining my success.
Food was holding too much importance in completing my day. So, what do I do now? Just before I stop eating each day, I have an Unjury protein shake or soup. After that, I fill my tummy with decaf, unsweetened beverages. LOTS of them. I also try to distract myself with reading, going outside, or other activities that I enjoy. It’s not easy but most days it works, and I feel so much better at the end of each day.
If you have used food as a reward, I’d love to hear how you are dealing with it. Do you have non-food reward ideas that you are willing to share?