The concept of 'food as reward' makes sense. But why do we do this?

Food as Reward
By: Lara Harrington, ISSA, ACSM

The concept of 'food as reward' makes sense. Only problem is the food that we have access to these days sends our brain chemistry for a such a loop that it affects every aspect of our existence. So much of it isn’t even real food. This fake food is not only super accessible, somehow it has also become socially acceptable. In fact, it's not socially acceptable to turn it down ­ no matter how good you feel without it.

"I just want to be normal and eat normal food!"

This tends to be the self talk for people who really have to focus on what they consume in order not to gain weight or become sick. They consider pizza and beer ‘normal food’.

That kind of food is NOT normal. That behavior is NOT normal. The people around you who can get away with eating that without obvious repercussions are NOT normal. And most importantly ­what your body needs to thrive is unique and specific and should never be compared to what other people get away with. There is no real normal.

As adults one of the very few things we have full control over is the food we decide to put in our mouths. You cannot eat to spite someone else (maybe a spouse or a personal trainer) it affects only you. And there is no such thing as "I've worked so hard, I deserve it". What you deserve are the benefits of how hard you worked. You do not deserve to sabotage the work you've done.

Yes, live this life. Participate and eat cake if you want to ­with your eyes wide open, no guilt, no spite. As soon as you attach ‘food as a reward’ to the rewards of health and fitness, you will set yourself up for continuous disappointment ­and that is just exhausting.

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