Eight Inexpensive Ways To Reward Yourself Without Food

February 16, 2012   29 Comments

After a hard day at work where you managed to do something wonderful - do you grab yourself a nice carrot?

Reward Yourself Without Food

or do you go grab a beer and some chips? or a glass of wine with some cheese? or a cookie?

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about taking my son to McDonald's for a celebration see: The McDonald's Happy Meal Dilemma (And How to Solve It) . The discussion changed quickly into one about using food as a reward. And it got me thinking.

What about adults? We are trying hard to do healthy things with our children and teach them good habits. But, I would not say that my habits are so great.

Yes, on a Friday, I WANT a reward for all those breakfast, lunches, and dinners that I have made. A reward for all those noses (and butts) that I have wiped and, frankly, food makes me feel good. I look forward to my chips and beer.

On the other hand, is this really a choice that I am making? Or am I just in a habit that costs me 600 (or more) calories but tastes really good?

Right now, it is winter and I don't really like going outside. I'm tired of the cold and the skies are gray and I feel like sitting on my couch for hours at a time. Inertia leads me to the easy reward.

ummmm. On the other hand, I write this website and I want to be a role model for you, dear reader, and my children. So, it seems like I shouldn't be using food for anything but for feeding myself when I am hungry.

What else could I do on Friday to reward myself for a hard week and start the relaxation of the weekend? I'm going to break out the sparkling water and lime and throw out some ideas. Please add some of your own so we can all learn from each other.

1. A hot bath (if I can just get my kids to stop bothering me).

2. Music! How about an instant dance party to my favorite music? I'm falling for that Bruno Mars guy.

3. Hugs - lots of them - perhaps I could convince my family to hug me until I can't stand it anymore.

4. Silence for 10 minutes (probably not going to happen unless I sit in my car).

5. Shopping for underwear. Hey, a cute pair of panties might only set you back $3-$5.

6. Go to the library (or bookstore) and browse (this may cost you if you find a book you must have).

7. To get yourself laughing until you cry watch videos of your favorite comedians on YouTube. I happen to love this one (not appropriate for children or easily offended adults): Russell Peters.

8. Drop by your favorite thrift store and see if you can find a bargain on stuff that you need. I found almost brand new hiking boots yesterday for $3 (reuse!).

Okay, I came up with EIGHT things other than food that would help me reward myself for a hard week of chores accomplished. You see, I don't want to buy stuff because that doesn't seem like a good solution to the reward problem.

So, now you are using STUFF instead of food for a reward (and I hate accumulating stuff because where am I going to put it all). I like to only buy stuff when I actually need the item that I am purchasing.

Of course, this is a winter list - going for a walk is a great way to unwind. What do you do to reward yourself for your accomplishments?

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 29 )

Those are all GREAT suggestions! Usually on a Friday, I go to the gym after work (boring, I know) and afterwards, if my husband is working a closing shift at Panera (he's a Manager), I reward myself by meeting him for dinner (free and healthy!) and then catching up on my shows! I also unwind by taking a long, hot shower (I'm too tall to sit comfortably in our tub for a bath- 5'10"). I agree about the music as well! I have a dance and karaoke party before, during, and after my long, hot shower! I also enjoy just relaxing on the cough with my furbaby and a good book or movie.

Love these! Thank you Snack Girl, challenge that paradigm! Only recently have I realized that my idea of "treating" myself was actually more like stuffing myself like a turkey. Not such a treat! I used to come downstairs after putting the 4 kids to bed, and was like Pavlov's dogs - the walk down the stairs triggered an impulse to go to the fridge to see how I'd "treat" myself. Yikes!

I look at dresses, either online or at a store - but in winter it's usually online - I love and Express.

Or I love watching TV/movies.. currently catching up with Downton Abbey <3 and Happy Endings.

I enjoyed this. I love the hot bath myself! :)

Thank you. I really, really, did need to hear this. I've been "rewarding" myself too often -- a yucky day, the "it's just one event" mode -- and for far too long. I've reverted back to habits developed in 30+ years of unhealthy living, and it's got to stop. This is inspiration to do just that! Thank you!

I so believe in mini goals and then rewarding yourself when you reach these goals. For me, I may treat myself to a pedicure or buy a new workout outfit, I always find something to make me feel good about what I accomplished.

Our food rewards focus on items we don't eat everyday, like DIY sushi:)

I usually just treat myself to one meal I didn't cook myself (though I try to limit that one since I'm not getting rich over here). I really like spaghetti and we have a lovely little local restaurant that makes their own noodles, so I just order myself a plate and appreciate that for once I didn't have to make the darn sauce. Hooray!

Other than that I really enjoy hot baths, face masks (oatmeal+honey=super soft skin), bad movies, and books. All of these make for a pretty awesome night.

Don't forget the joy and peace of a nice fire in the fireplace!

When I'm home alone on a wintry, boring evening, I love to call up a friend and chat about whatever. Drinking a cup of berry green tea in front of my firelogs... calorie free and lots of fun for me!!!

Russell Peters is great! I also like to reward myself by watching a recent segment of Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert.

One of my favorite treats is to watch documentaries on Netflix. That might sound boring to some, but I look for those that are a little offbeat and different.

I'm with Tara on the hot tea, too! Someone also mentioned some home spa treatments, like facial masks, and I don't do those nearly enough.

Hubby and I will treat ourselves to a glass of wine once a week at a cute little place in walking distance. They have a $5 per glass happy hour, or we get an iced tea and sit and chat. I regulate my meals and snacks carefully, so I don't feel hungry for a snack, and it doesn't cost much.

A new magazine is my favorite reward. I get them at the library when I am "on the budget"

Like me, you live in New England.

"Right now, it is winter and I don't really like going outside. I'm tired of the cold and the skies are gray and I feel like sitting on my couch for hours at a time. Inertia leads me to the easy reward."

We hike year-round in MA and if there's snow we snowshoe. Great for kids too.

I eat popcorn. After dinner I sit down to a good book or movie and put 1/4 cup of popcorn in a paper lunch bag then put it in the microwave. This snack has much fewer calories than most, loads of fiber and I can sprinkle so many wonderful seasonings on it. I have lime and chili, butter herbs & jalapeno, nacho cheddar, white cheddar, Brewers yeast and so many more. It is a lot for a little (calories)

Get a pedicure!!

Ok so it was supposed to be a with out food reward. I get that it is just that when I want a reward it is at night after my son is settled and I can relax. I do luxuriate in a bath whenever I can in the winter ( but this is California and it is sunny and 60 degrees) I have bubble bath, bath salts AND Dr. Bronner's peppermint Magic Soaps. I bring in magazines, play scrabble in my ipod (careful not to drop it in!) But I still want Popcorn. I limit it to 2 to 3 times a week. :)

Thanks for writing this. The major US medical organizations recommend not using food as a reward yet it's so prevalent. It's important to find alternatives for parents and kids! My favorite reward is a nap for me and books for my children.

99 cent music downloads on iTunes or amazon... Reading a good book... or one on my Kindle. Look for a podcast on a topic of interest if you want something free!

Great questions! I'm realizing now how lucky I am that I already "reward" myself with lots of the things mentioned :) I'd love more beverage ideas if anyone has them - we make sparkling water with the SodaStream, any fun flavor ideas? I bet that would satisfy a lot of the "must have treat" feelings.

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