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Why we use food as a reward/comfort etc.


Slimming down the aisle
S: 19st1.5lb C: 18st6.8lb G: 13st0lb BMI: 38.2 Loss: 0st8.7lb(3.25%)
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. This whole attitude of rewarding myself with food. And comforting myself with food. And I think I've figured it out, a bit!

I really struggle to leave food on my plate, I feel like I need to eat it. Before my mum was married to my Dad, she was married before and he used to be really strict on food. With my older sisters who my mum had with him, he wouldn't let them leave the table until all the food was eaten. And I think that rolled over into my childhood too. With the 'you can't leave the table until you've eaten all your dinner' and 'you can only have pudding when you've eaten all your dinner'. Like I was being bribed with pudding, and I guess that's the start of it as a reward.

There's that whole thing of 'if you're a good girl....' you'll get bought sweets, or be allowed to have cake, or a biscuit or whatever. I'm starting to realise that it's no wonder I have this whole reward attitude to food. I've been good with food today, so I can treat myself to a small chocolate or something.

And there's the whole food for comfort thing. Maybe it's because of this whole reward system. Maybe when I eat things like ice cream, chocolate, cake etc. I subconsciously associate it with those rewards, and the feeling that you get from being rewarded. And so I find comfort in that.

And there's this whole thing of as a kid, you fall over or get upset and people are like aww it's ok, stop crying.... do you want an ice cream/biscuit/cake/sweet?

I think that's why I now try and reward myself with things other than food. And I can start to see why it's like this.

I'm nowhere near having kids, at all. But I've realised how easy it could be to pass that pattern on. So I need to remember whenever I do have kids to not do that. Not offer food as a comfort or reward. And not do the whole, you have to eat your dinner thing. I've always with my nieces or nephews when I've looked after them not made them clear their plates. We compromise. They don't have to eat it all, but they must have 3 more forks, including vegetables. I think it's really important to learn when you're full. And I think that starts as a child, and I probably didn't learn that then. It's only really now that I'm learning when I'm actually full and to stop eating when I get to that point, not when I get to that stuffed point!

Anyway, really long post, so I'll shut up now!!
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S: 14st0lb C: 10st12lb G: 9st0lb BMI: 27.8 Loss: 3st2lb(22.45%)
All makes sense doesn't it? I too have been guilty of saying those things to my kids when they were little just as I heard them too. I am still guilty of rewarding myself in my head because I make myself drink a litre of water before allowing myself my shake which I love. I tried bars during a couple of weeks and also saw them as rewards after dancing so you see it's hard to get rid of the reward mentality. But then as I get slimmer I hope to use the 'rewards' as occasional treats rather than usual daily food so perhaps it's better that way? Hard to say one way or the other!


Silver Member
S: 13st13lb G: 12st2lb
Absolutely the same for me too - my mum used to reward us with sweets when we'd been to the dentist (!?). I used to get the 'starving children in Africa' speech too. It's very easy to pass on - we have just come back from full-board holiday and my daughter is not a big eater so it was hard not to keep pestering her to make the most of the buffet while we were in for meals. We came to an agreement that as long as she ate what she wanted (which sometimes was quite a bizarre combination of food) and didn't expect snacks between meals we wouldn't nag her to eat more.

lunar jim

Gold Member
S: 18st2lb C: 17st4lb G: 13st12lb BMI: 31.1 Loss: 0st12lb(4.72%)
Hmm, there's a patter here, I do the same with my kids. I'm making a conscious effort not to do the 'clear your plate' thing. But it's easy (and cheap...) to reward the kid's good behaviour with a few sweets while you're out and about: they cost very little and sweets are available everywhere. Though we're started to alter this and look to buy them a little nicknack from e.g. a gift shop if we're somewhere that has one. Not so cheap though :(


Silver Member
Do you read Marie Claire? I dont regularly but got the Sept issue thats out now for a change. Theres an artical about emotional eating, it basically says that before reaching for food ask yourself "What is this about?" comfort, boredom, stress etc. Something Im going to try.
S: 16st13lb C: 14st6lb G: 11st0lb BMI: 33.6 Loss: 2st7lb(14.77%)
Yeah, I was thinking something similar which is why a few weeks back I posted asking how people reward themselves for weight losses. Its funny when a group of us did sw we used to celebrate/commiserate after with a trip to the chippie and a bottle or three of wine! Now I but costume jewellery, products or book a trip to the beautican!

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