Reward-Based Eating

“Cheat Meal” is one of my least favorite terms.

It implies that we’re using food to reward ourselves for something.

What, exactly? 

Sometimes, we don’t even need an excuse … we just think we “deserve” a cheat meal.

I don’t like this concept any more than using exercise as a punishment. As in, if we go overboard with our “cheat meal,” we force ourselves to push extra hard and/or do extra workouts as “punishment.”

Let’s stop thinking of food as a reward and exercise as punishment,

Instead, let’s look at both as ways that we can nourish our bodies and minds.

As we know, our actions and behavior are determined by our thoughts, which create feelings. And a lot of what we think and feel is directed by the language we use.

Concepts like “earning” food with exercise can be problematic, because this type of thinking assigns values to the two things involved.

Exercise = good

Food = bad

That’s not the best way to look at it.

Similarly, referring to a meal as a “cheat meal” assigns a negative connotation to it. If it’s cheating, it must be bad. And in order for the meal to live up to the meaning we’ve assigned to it … well, then it’s going to have to be extra bad.

Pun intended … this kind of thinking is a recipe for disaster.

Don’t demonize food. Instead, make choices that are in alignment with your goals. And if you’re going to indulge, do it intentionally … but don’t assign a value or emotion to it. 

Don’t treat exercise as a punishment for making poor food choices … or an excuse for doing the same.

Make that simple change in language and thought, and enjoy how much better your nutritional decision-making becomes when you remove guilt from the equation.