Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Food is NOT a Reward

Every morning I watch the news. I need to know a little about what's going on in the world. As I sat busily typing away at my computer, the news ended and on came Maury Povich. I am not a fan of his show but sometimes I see the first few minutes of it before I turn it off.  I was surprised to see today's show wasn't about the usual cheating partners and paternity tests. It was about childhood obesity. Of course, this piqued my interest. I poured myself another cup of coffee and watched.

This show was sad to say the least. Huge, unhealthy, miserable children and equally miserable mothers who were concerned about their kids but had no idea how to improve or change things. There was one four year old boy in particular who weighed a whopping 104lbs! 104 lbs! Can you imagine?

When his mother was asked how she rewarded him when he was good, she responded, "fried chicken!"

FRIED CHICKEN?!! That kid needs fruit, vegetables and serious exercise, not a bucket of KFC!

This might be an extreme case but it made me think about our relationships with FOOD. Some use food to soothe, comfort, and to feel loved. This is a learned behavior that begins in childhood. It seems harmless at the time, but there can be some serious issues down the line. It affects the whole way we think about and eat food.


Baby cries- we give them a bottle. Milk = comfort.

Child is antsy in the car at the store - we give them a cookie. Cookie = peace

Child is misbehaving- we promise them an ice cream if they are good. Ice Cream = Reward

Child gets rejected at school, on the playground, by friends- we bake them brownies.

Brownies = Love.

Do you see a pattern here? Do you see yourself in this picture? As the giver OR the recipient?

Shut them up with food.
Calm them down with food.
Make them behave with food.
Heal their broken hearts with food.

Oh! And here's a big one! Threaten to take away a treat or favorite food when they misbehave!

We cry, we hurt, we do something good, or we want to feel loved and what do we do? We turn to FOOD... Because we are conditioned to silence our emotions and our pain. We learn to temporarily suppress our true feeling and our needs with FOOD.  We depend on FOOD to make us feel good!.  We are controlled by FOOD!

What happens when you have a bad day? Break up with your mate? 
Do you reach for the gallon of ice cream or junk food?

How about when you accomplish something grand?
Do you celebrate with lots and lots of food?

A former client of mine had a specific dress size she wished to wear in certain amount of time. She had been over-weight her entire life. I told her I would help her but I wanted to address and heal her issues with food and her own self-esteem so she could stay a healthy size forever! BUT.... she had to learn to accept the fact that she was not going to drop weight overnight and there was a possibility she might never fit into her so-called ideal size. She decided my program was not for her.

She was looking for starvation, deprivation and punishment.  And to wear the dress size that would make her feel beautiful, loved and accepted. She wasn't really interested in changing her life. 

She did lose weight on another program and was so excited. She now fit into the dress size of her dreams. Now she was going to reward herself. She made reservations at her favorite restaurant where she planned to devour everything she had denied herself the pleasure of eating for the past few months. She did a good job and now she deserved a prize for being so GOOD! She kept on rewarding herself and within a few months, she gained ALL her weight back and then some!

Sad, huh?

All she learned was how to suffer and deprive herself of  food. She saw starvation as being good. Then she went out and gave herself a nice big REWARD and kept on rewarding herself. Actually, she wound up stuck in a cycle of reward and punishment. That's why she gained all her weight back- plus. She never learned a thing about herself or why food was such a big deal to her in the first place.

Yes, this woman did deserve to be praised and feel good about what she accomplished. She had worked hard! But, there were other ways to pat herself on the back.  She had no clue who she was or what she wanted so she turned to the one thing that always made her feel good- FOOD!

Food is not a reward! It is not comfort, love or peace. It cannot make us act or react a certain way. It is fuel we need to keep our bodies functioning. An ice cream cone is an ice cream cone and I believe if you want one, you should go ahead and have one. Every day if you wish!
If your body, mind and spirit are balanced-- one ice cream cone a day is NOT GOING TO MAKE YOU FAT!!!!

WOW! I bet you never heard that before!!

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And this is my Daily Cyn........

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