Why Food + Alcohol Shouldn't Be The Reward

Photo courtesy: Dreamy Leaf

Photo courtesy: Dreamy Leaf

I was recently speaking to a friend about this concept and how it's shaped society as a whole. We've both spent recent years reversing the damage done to our bodies through past moments of excess sugar and alcohol consumption (among other health-related issues) and agreed that we no longer have much of a place for either in our lives anymore if we want the best for our long-term health.

I can't say how many times I've heard people say or share or speak that they're rewarding themselves with something indulgent or sweet or guilty or alcoholic because they "deserve" it. The strenuous five+ mile run. The long, stressful work week. After a three day cleanse. The list goes on. It's very counterintuitive, don't you think? I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. Believe me, I've said similar things as well. 

But what happens is that food and/or alcohol becomes the fixation, which may lead to issues down the road. In some cases, it can result in overindulging or even binging, which then may provoke feelings of shame and guilt. It's a very vicious and dangerous cycle. 

These fixations often begin at a very young age and may stay rooted with us as we age, potentially passing these tendencies on to our own children. For example.

We weren't excused from the table until we finished our plate.

Our birthdays and celebratory moments were always focused around the cake.

We couldn't have the dessert unless we finished our dinner.

This is neither our nor our parents' fault. They had our best interest in mind and wanted to make sure that our growing bodies were well nourished, which was likely passed down from their parents. Society simply has, for the most part, always existed this way. But it can be tricky to break out of those habits and recognize that we don't need to rely on food or alcohol as a reward. 

The actual reward of treating ourselves well is the natural runner's high. The promotion (or self-promotion) of doing a badass job at work. 

When we're stressed after a long week, we deserve rest. Or better yet, an hour at the spa. 

When we're ravenous after a long run, we deserve to replenish ourselves with nutrients that will continue to help us perform well.

When we get the promotion, we deserve that extra cash in our pocket to spend it however we please.

And if you hold the mentality that you just "need to get through the work week," then perhaps you should be reconsidering your current line of work to one that you actually enjoy. This may come off pretty blunt, but isn't it the truth?

This doesn't mean...don't indulge. Indulging is being human and choosing whatever feels good in the moment. Let's just be a little more mindful about how we reward ourselves in order to continue taking care of ourselves. Our accomplishments, big or small, are worth celebrating, so it's important not to lose sight of that and then bury it with a heaping pile of sugar or bottle of vino that may leaving you in the fetal position the entire next day. Unless, for some reason you enjoy that...

Yes, treat yourself. Just don't let food or alcohol play that role. 

Here's to celebrating you