I Finally Took Her Advice and Stopped


When I thought of the word “treat” as a 305 pound morbidly obese woman, I thought of food.

Food was a treat to me.

I anticipated rewarding myself with high-fat, high-calorie treats. If I had a hard day at work – I treated myself with a pan of brownies. I’d sit down and eat the whole pan quickly, the whole time thinking about how I had waited for hours for this treat. I’m not sure that I even enjoyed those brownies because I ate them so quickly.

Once the children started coming along, I treated myself all day long. Had a sleepless night? Eat some cake. Kids running around all day long? Eat a pound of M&M’s. Stressful phone call? Eat a bag of chips.

Food was one way I rewarded or treated myself in life. On some level I understood that treating myself with food wasn’t a good idea, but that didn’t stop me. I vividly remember thinking about how I “shouldn’t” eat so much while eating junk food.

I remember visiting one of the many Weight Watchers meetings I attended where the leader talked about treating ourselves with something other than food. Cynically I sat there, spilling over the chair, thinking to myself, “She doesn’t know what she is talking about.” I understand those snide thoughts were my way of dealing with my own lack of discipline and obesity–but I still thought it. I remember leaving that very meeting and heading through McDonald’s for two sausage biscuits with hash browns. I needed a “treat” after spending the week trying to deny myself.

Year after year I struggled with my weight and my attitude towards food.

When I finally started losing weight, I remembered that Weight Watchers meeting. Instead of scoffing and dismissing her advice as I had all those years before, I thought about whether or not she had a point. Should I try and find non-food treats to reward myself as I met some of my goals?

Thankfully, I belatedly took her advice and did plan several non-food treats for myself along my way down the scale.

I chose simple, inexpensive things like a new book, a $1.00 movie date with John or a $10.00 shirt. I didn’t choose brownies, cake or ice cream. The benefits of choosing a non-food treat were far reaching. I learned to disassociate food from treating myself. It’s something I’ve been happy to continue throughout the years.

How do you treat yourself? Did you ever treat yourself with food?Β  Diane

31 thoughts on “I Finally Took Her Advice and Stopped

  1. Amy says:

    It is definitely hard to give up treating ourselves with food…but something we HAVE to master if we want to get to a healthy weight. I definitely used to treat myself with food, just like you, and this was a major factor in my weight problem. It was only when I stopped doing this so much that I got a grip on it.

    I haven’t conquered it completely, and I still enjoy certain food things as a treat, but I also have other ways to treat myself now. Like buying myself an American fitness or yoga magazine (which are expensive here and therefore a special treat).

    Another thing I have done is change how I look at certain activities – in the past they used to feel like punishment and now I really feel like they are a treat. For example, going to the gym is a treat for me, even though it sometimes feels hard, it is something I do for myself and this makes me feel good. Going for a run is another one.

    I guess it’s all about changing our perspective about things.

  2. Miz says:

    Ive worked hard and consciously never to use the word treat with food (with my daughter).
    She gets a ton of treats πŸ™‚ but they are all experiences.
    From movies to play time with one parent etc.
    never foodstuffs

  3. Emergefit says:

    I have been fit, obese, and fit again. In my obese days, treat meant food. In my fit days, treat means an extra workout — or something physical. It’s a joy, a real treat to be able to move. Even just a walk up a steep hill is living. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy an occasion sugary something. I just keep it small, and think of it as momentary celebration.

  4. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    I still treat myself with weekend cookie treats BUT during the week, it is all about non food treats – feeling healthy & knowing I have managed this long term.. it is like NSVs but with food – NFVs! πŸ˜‰

  5. Marie@feedingfive says:

    Usually at night with a good book and some light hot chocolate (almond milk, a little brown sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder). Luckily I like healthy food and even sitting down to a big ol’ veggie filled salad for dinner is a treat to me.

  6. Meg (@LadyMegSoprano) says:

    What a coincidence! I wrote a post about using food as a treat, or more specifically, a way of dealing with stress yesterday! I no longer use food as a reward. I still allow myself yummy treats from time to time, but I plan them into my calories for the day and they’re not “rewards” or for soothing a bad day. For example, I had a really rough, stressful day yesterday, but I did NOT eat the chocolate I have on hand, because that’s comforting myself with food. Today is better, so I may have a little bit of it with my tea this afternoon.

    It’s a fine line to walk, but it works for me. The good news is, I no longer eat an entire box of Mac & Cheese for dinner…actually, I don’t eat Mac & Cheese at all.

  7. Paul Eilers says:

    Why do you suppose you associated food as a “treat” to begin with? Where do you think you first learned this behavior?

    I majored in psychology in college, so that’s why I’m asking.

    Great post, by the way. And please keep up the good work!

  8. Deniz says:

    Food is still a treat to me, but the foods have changed and my ‘need’ to treat myself so often has decreased. As long as I am on track (er, not always the case) I’m now more inclined to look out for the best looking apples or a punnet of blueberries than a bag of chips as a treat.

    I still get tripped up when hit by stress though – then food isn’t so much perceived as a treat or a reward as a medicine (if you know what I mean). Doesn’t work, but that’s a harder habit to break.

    I do also use non-food treats though too, quite a lot now I come to think of it. Today’s is a lovely bunch of daffodils (cost me all of 50p – less than a bar of chocolate).

  9. Renee says:

    When I was in the losing weight phase and reached a certain goal. I would reward myself with a new cd, getting my eyebrows waxed or a new workout outfit. I always chose the new outfit.

  10. E. Jane says:

    For most of my life, the concept of “treating myself” always involved food. In reality it still does, until I grab onto the reality of my situation and go in another direction. My mindset is that of a compulsive overeater, and I have to constantly give myself reminders that there are other fun and rewarding things in life besides food. I think for non-compulsive eaters, food is probably not the first thing they think of when they have an opportunity to “treat” themelves. This is a great post, because it hits right at the heart of so many of the issues that we deal with on a daily basis.

  11. vickie says:

    “my own lack of discipline ”

    that is what I have learned about myself too.

    I was stuck at a 4 year old level in many ways. Too much responsibility and not enough parenting and a lot of dysfunction which lead to a lot of fear/anxiety and not enough of the right kind of growth/maturity in my important, formative years.

  12. Teresa says:

    Sadly I still fall into the “food is a treat” category far more than I would like to. I have made some progress, however, to finding other treats. Recently I treated myself with a concert that I really wanted to see. I’m thinking new clothes would be a good milestone treat. And….I’m finding a new love for jewelery as well.

  13. Vickie says:

    It’s hard for me to ‘treat’ myself with a new magazine, book, cd, or dvd because they all cost money. Then it occurred to me that I’ve been saving a ton of money by not buying myself those food ‘treats’.

  14. Babbalou says:

    I enjoy down time with a cup of coffee and a book or magazine. Both my library and my favorite bookstore are a couple of minutes away and serve coffee. So if I’ve done my walking, I can treat myself to the coffee. It’s just about my only splurge, aside from yarn, but I’m not going to talk about the yarn!

  15. Holly says:

    I treat myself with getting a pedicure. This is a new thing I love to do now that I can fit in the chair!! I also will spend time picking out a movie to watch and then let myself enjoy it. I treat myself to a new kindle book. I think it’s hard to get used to treating yourself with something other than food but as time goes on you get more used to it AND the best part is you are not harming yourself and there are no bad side effects!

  16. Quix says:

    If I have a really unhealthy craving, I’ll wait until a day when I’ve raced and burnt like 4000 calories to treat myself to it (aka, wanted to try the bacon milkshake at Jack in the Box, my hubby and I split it and didn’t even finish it until later that week).

    Normally, if I “waste” those type of calories on a normal day, I get upset, because that’s so much more good nutritious food I could use to fuel my body!!!

    And honestly, I just try to treat myself good all the time so I don’t need treats :).

  17. jeanette says:

    Now that my body is in a normal size…. it’s all about the clothes. I may not like the way everthing fits and may not purchase anything, but I am way on to trying things on. So fun!

  18. La. says:

    I’ve definitely treated myself with food. It tastes good and is instant gratification! BUT, it isn’t so helpful towards healthy living. Now as I lose my baby weight – she’s 3 weeks time to get started – I am choosing workout clothing as incentive!

  19. LovesCatsinCA says:

    That’s interesting because I think of binging more as PUNISHING myself with food, not as a reward. If I’m overeating (and usually that is NOT something like apples…) I’ll keep eating it and stuff down enough to feel slightly queasy or painfully full etc. to punish myself for overindulging at all. Luckily, I don’t do that as often as I used to, I only binge a couple times a week now instead of daily, and they’re what I call a mini-binge in terms of calories–otherwise I wouldn’t maintain a weight 25 pounds lighter than my peak… but at the same time I find that it’s probably the reason that I’m heavier than at my lightest. I don’t think I could physically down 5,000 calories like I did in college if I wanted to–but I can eat 500.

    I do need rewards. If I need a treat, I think of it as a break from stress and life–I take a walk or go to the gym and enjoy reading on the elliptical, or buying something new for my Kindle and reading (I love reading!) or make a fresh cup of tea.

  20. Roz@weightingfor50 says:

    I love this….as I’ve moved forward in my “get healthy journey” I prefer non food treats (or rewards) over food ones any day. A cookie is gone in 2 minutes….this month’s Cooking Light Magazine, a new lipstick or a new kitchen utensil lasts a whole lot longer and is much more satisfying. Have a wonderful Wednesday Diane!!!

  21. Taryl says:

    It is so hard to stop rewarding with food! I still struggle with that, even many months into healthy habits and views of nutrition. My big rewards are not food related, but smaller daily versions still are. I love ending the day with smooth, silky dark chocolate. Just a serving, well accounted for, but it is definitely my treat. Still, given that it is a daily thing and mindfully consumed it is definitely not the same as when I used to stuff myself with three donuts or a plate of chicken nuggets, whenever stress hit, but dissociating food from reward is incredibly challenging, given that our culture associates the two.

    It’s all a process of growth, isn’t it?

  22. Jane at Keeping the Pounds off says:

    When didn’t I treat myself with food? I used it as pain reliever, pacifier, laughing gas, energizer, reward, punishment and love.

    Today it is only love when I prepare it lovingly and sanely for my family. As for the rest, now I treat myself to a walk in the evening, a movie on TV, a visit with friends, a phone call, an extra hour of sleep, a massage, a pedicure, a new pair of undies or even socks. The list goes on and on. Most things are free and nothing has calories or is taken internally.

  23. nivedita says:

    oh my!!! sometimes your post make me want to hug you from across the seven seas! Really, I totally identify with that attitude to food. I am improving lately and find I might not need a food treat all the while. Recently, I have promised myself a hair cut and a salon appointment. Losing weight has given me enough confidence to plan a vacation fr my family.

  24. blackhuff says:

    It’s great when one can come to the point where you can treat yourself to something other than food. Like you stated, something like clothes or movie date.

  25. Ewa says:

    I have changed the way I celebrate. My special hikes or outings to the ocean are far more memorable than any trips to a restaurant would be.

  26. Caron says:

    My mind still immediately goes to food when I think of treating or rewarding myself. I have learned to quickly reject that in favor of a non-food reward. I remember my father getting me ice cream because I had my little four year old thumb slammed in the car door. I did the same thing with my daughter when she went over the handlebars of her bicycle the day we took off the training wheels. For me, it appears to be a learned behavior. Yep, I can change that. πŸ™‚

  27. Christie says:

    I am doing much better not rewarding myself with food, but I find I have been rewarding my family with it. Only in the lat few weeks have I started rewarding my family with activities. And not only does it help me avoid junk, and be more active, we have honestly had more fun!

Leave a Reply