Good boy! You did your exercise today–have a treat.
Good girl! You ate 5 servings of vegetables–have dessert.
My you’ve been good today. You’ve followed all the food rules–go ahead and break them now.
Just as people talk to babies like they talk to dogs (or is it vice versa?), we talk to ourselves like we’re dogs. “My Michaela, you’ve been so good you deserve a special treat. Oh yes you do!” Of course you can’t hear me saying this to myself. Neither can you see my ears perk up and my heart quicken at the idea that I have been deemed as good (for now at least) and worthy of a reward for my purity and uprightness.
Sounds silly, but we give ourselves treats and receive them similar to how we operate with Fido.
As we’ve talked about a lot on this blog, food isn’t just food. In this case, food is a reward. We each have specific foods that fall into the category of “special, prize, earned”. These foods may be “forbidden” any other time, but when we’ve been especially “good”, we get to eat them.
Now “good” can mean a whole assortment of things. It may be exercising a certain amount, restricting your food intake, not binging, cooking dinner for the family, choosing a salad instead of the pasta you wanted. It can be doing or not doing something. It could even be unrelated to food and exercise.
You may reward yourself with food for sticking with a job you dislike, commuting in traffic, making it through another trying day.
Well you’re not a dog and you shouldn’t be treated like one, especially by yourself! The issue of food as a reward was developed gradually and consistently, so changing food’s role may not be quick or easy.
I would recommend starting to recognize how you treat yourself like little Buddy or Bella, the way you talk to yourself when you think you deserve a food reward, the way you respond to that self-talk, what kind of food you choose as you treats, and how you feel after you’ve consumed said treats.
There’s so much more that can be said on this topic:
Do you give yourself dog treats?