On Food and Rewards

Hello Internet. It’s been forever since I’ve blogged, but I want to get this out. It’s not exactly related to anything that has been posted on here previously, but it’s my website so I can write whatever I want. So, this is a post about something else we all know I love: food. Mmm, food.

It was Valentine's Day, ok?

My friend Fred makes the best fried chicken. I ate it in the bath on Valentine’s Day.

Today is Day 19 of me and my roommate Jen’s Whole 30 commitment. No alcohol, added/refined sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. It’s been a rollercoaster, but we’re doing really well at it, and I can honestly say it’s changing my life. We’ve been talking about food and emotions a lot at home. Why do we want to eat 20kg of Mini Eggs when we’re upset? What’s with the impulse to chug a bottle of wine?

I know that my emotional eating habits started when I was a kid, trying to figure out how to navigate all of the feelings around my parents splitting up. I wasn’t thinking about taking good care of my body when I was 6. I was thinking about the giant pit in my stomach, and trying to fill it. I remember going to a therapist and only being okay about going back because she always put out cookies. I still associate Whippet cookies with that feeling. This has followed me all my life. Am I tired? Eat food! Am I happy? Eat food! Am I sad? Eat food! Did I do really well on something? Eat food! Did I mess up hard on something? Eat food! Did nothing happen at all? Eat food! I have been aware of this for my entire adult life, but never felt equipped with the tools, time or will to do the work to change it.

One aspect of this that is particularly clear to me these days is how I use food as a reward. It’s totally fine to do this sometimes – a fancy meal, a new restaurant, indulging in some of the amazing chocolate made just around the corner from my house – but I need to not do that all the time. And until recently, I kind of did do it all the time. Um… that’s kind of messed up.

10 little things I can reward or treat myself with that aren’t food

  1. Bringing home flowers or house plant stuff
  2. A hang with a friend or a video chat with a far-away loved one
  3. Buying or supporting new music, participating in PledgeMusic/Kickstarter etc. campaigns
  4. Going to a show
  5. Going out to a movie
  6. Chillin’ in the bathtub (um, maybe not always with fried chicken, though)
  7. Paying a stranger to come clean my house (new fav thing)
  8. Creative time! Colouring, writing, making. It feels good.
  9. “Local Tourist” outings, visiting new places in my own city
  10. Browsing and mmmaaaayyybeeee picking something up for myself at my favourite local gift shop, Scout

Looking at this list, I’m seeing a lot of things that I would normally pair with food or alcohol as entertainment. It’s all the same stuff I always do – buying music and going to shows is a really normal thing for me – but I’m taking the focus off of the food factor and putting it on the event or the company or the music. It seems easy, because all of my friends are obviously super cool and so are all of the events I go to (insert modesty here). I’m losing old habits and learning new, better ones. I’m definitely not going to stop loving eating delicious food. I’m just being smarter about it. And eating vegetables. Realizing that I’ve already got it pretty good and have a lot of great, fun stuff going on in my life is an important perspective in helping me assess what food treats are really necessary or worth it.*

What are some easy, little things you would treat yourself with that aren’t food?

Now, it wouldn’t be an “Emma’s blog” post without mentioning Peter Katz, would it? Here’s this awesome video for the title track of his latest record, “We Are The Reckoning”, which I listen to front-to-back at least 5 times a day. If you’re looking for a record to buy as a treat to yourself, I’d say, go for this one. It’s been the soundtrack to me being good to myself, lately.

*This is not to say that I will not eat Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams 3x a day when visiting a city where there’s a scoop shop. PRIORITIES, PEOPLE.

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