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Non-Food Rewards?


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Hey guys,

In the past, I have used food as a way to reward myself, even on diets. For example, if I followed my diet consistently for a week, I'd let myself eat dessert on the weekend. 

I'm trying to move past that, as I don't think it was the healthiest habit. I'm trying to think of some non-food rewards that I could give myself after I finish my first Whole30. My favorite one so far is to go get a massage. 

Any other suggestions? 

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Agreed that this is a habit that should be dismissed. Here are some non-food rewards I've used or heard of others using lately:


  • New pair of jeans
  • New fitness wristband and/or smart scale
  • Bouquet of flowers (doesn't have to be fancy or expensive)
  • Pop into a used bookstore for a few books
  • Massage
  • Haircut

The second bullet is the one I did for myself, and I'm loving it so far, though it has to be specific for you.

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Kitchen gadgets!  Though I'm not sure what's left that I haven't already purchased.

Scrapbook/paper craft supplies


Tech toys

A trip to Magnolia Market in Waco with my husband's credit card (instead of mine). LOLOL

More wreaths for the front door.


Make a list of things you want, like you used to do when you made Christmas/Birthday/Etc. wish lists for your parents/significant other and use that as your reward list. Think about little stocking stuffers and the like.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Allocating  Time for Guilt free activities, such as....

•pleasure reading or tv watching

•sewing or working on a hobby

•visiting/phoning a friend 

•FB or other social media time

•going to pool to work on tan


(guilt-free means instead of household chores or other 'have-to's you are expected to do)

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Food rewards start in childhood.  Instead of rewarding kids with candy and toys, the child loves praise from the parent. Food and sugar rewards = cheering and approval and love.

Giving yourself those high-fives you may have never gotten as a child is a good place to start. They're all free but worth their weight in gold.  Nice job going.  You did it.  I knew you could do it.  

A high five and a big smile. Highly effective positive encouragement motivators.   Free. 


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For week one my husband bought me a new food processor - changed my meal prep!

Week 2 I found a groupon for a spa day.

Week 3 I bought myself a dry brush

I just finished week 4 last week and haven't bought anything specific to treat myself but I will probably go clothes shopping this weekend. :) 

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Hi Andreap26, I'm in the same situation, so thanks for starting this thread. The issue I have with setting new rewards is that financially a lot of suggestions are on a totally different financial scale. I mean, my favourite chocolate or a tub of ice cream costs maximum £4, whereas new clothes probably start at £25 and a new fitbit or kitchen gadget is more like £100. I'm not in a position to replace chocolate with much more expensive things. I like the suggestions of allocating time to do things as a reward, but that relies on being disciplined and not letting yourself do those things already. How about replacing sweet food with another healthier food as a reward? It's a similar cost and timescale. For example, things like a really good cut of steak, or a whole duck for roasting, are not on my shopping list every day, so they seem like "treat" foods, even though they are healthy and allowed on Whole30. You even buy them in the same place and at the same time, so it's possible to call in at the supermarket and buy yourself a fancy steak after a hard day at work, when you would have bought chocolate before.

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Understood and appreciated what you're saying, Alcarm.

Eating well never used to be thought of as an award but is actually the norm for those without a food addiction or disorder.  As someone who is in food addiction/binge eating recovery....binge eating is a chronic disease of food rewards.  So I don't reward myself with food or anything.  

If I do any of the above for myself, I think about it as just a normal part of living vs. the abby normal way I used to reward myself with food.  UP or down, bored or enthused, no particular mood just binge eating as an activity and rewarding myself because I "deserved" it.  The consequences of constant food rewards got me nowhere good.

In many ways, rewarding myself with non-food rewards is still hitting that reward center/part of my brain...much like SWYPO's do.  

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SWYPO's don't satisfy. The entire time you're eating one you are thinking how the real thing is far, far better. So the reward center of the brain mulls it over and over until the other shoe drops.  Lo and behold, you're on the trail for what you really wanted in the first place.

Rewarding myself with SWYPO's or non-food rewards,  my brain would still be entertaining thoughts of the food I wanted in the first place.  So no rewards, SWYPO's.  Breaking the cycles of binge eating and food addiction required going Cold Turkey to heal that reward center in my brain.   

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My husband grew up on a dairy farm and he lurves good ice cream. Hard to find these days.  Yesterday, he went in search of the frozen yogurt joint.  Closed on Sundays.  So he opted for the swapped out version SWYPO SWIPE-O at the grocery store and it did not satisfy.  

Today, he woke up thinking about the real thing.  Our mind is powerful and it's a stubborn mule. It will not give you peace or rest until you satisfy it like a spoiled child.   He gives into the child that keeps dancing through his life and I'm letting mine become an adult that makes choices and knows the consequences. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for this post! It really helped me add to my list. One of the more low-cost ways I reward myself is through apps. I allow myself to purchase an app or game on my phone that I would not otherwise....usually it is about $2-$5. Same goes for in-app purchases; I play a lot of games on my phone and I reward myself with the little purchases that can be done in the app to enhance the game. Cheap, consistent, fun and not food related.


Here is my reward list (with some of the suggestions above added):

·       New shoes (Ross/Marshalls)*

·       Small kitchen gadget

·       Small tech gadget

·       Mani/pedi*

·       Massage*

·       Phone app/game purchase <$8

·       Flowers

·       Up band*

·       Something <$15 off my Amazon wishlist

·       Something <$30 on Groupon*

·       Audiobook

·       Movie on Vudu

·       Movie theater  ticket

·       New bra/undies*

·       Bubble bath

·       A fun class (cooking/art/community/etc)*

* = Milestone rewards

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Just a thought about the comment that if you use the "rewards" of a nice hot soak or  some tea and tv time throughout the rest of the time, then it stops becoming a reward. What about the fact that if you want a hot bath, you deserve it right then and there. You don't have to be good/pure/dedicated/perfect to deserve doing nice things for yourself. Consider eating protein, veggies and fats their own long term reward towards yourself and then do the things you want to do. Paint your nails, take a bath with epsom salt and lavender oil, light a candle, read a book, go to bed early, wear the cozy slippers and light a fire. You don't have to earn your life. 

*steps off of soap box.

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