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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sarah Penney, ND, MSc

Change Your Reward Habits To Beat Cravings

Do you find yourself dependant on baked goods, sugar, cheese or fatty foods and are having problems shaking the habit? It might be worth taking a good look at when you are craving these foods. Many of us tend to reach for treats at the end of a long day why we feel like we deserve a reward, or when we are stressed and need a break. Although the foods we often become dependant on can actually trigger the release of feel good chemicals in our brain, the pattern in which we use them could also contribute to dependency. If you reach for a treat every time you achieve a goal or you feel good because you are taking a break, then you can start associating those feelings with your desired foods. Why not think of a new way to reward yourself to help break that habit? A reward is very personalized to what you will enjoy, and you may think of some ideas that fit yourself better than these. You can use these ideas as a launching point to customize a new reward program for yourself and set the sweets aside!

1. Watch your favourite show! How often do you take time to do something just for yourself, especially when you have a laundry list of things to do around the house, and possibly some things that you have brought home from work. If you are picking a movie, try and focus on something carefree and funny – or educational if that is what you enjoy! 2. Take a warm bath, buy a magazine or paint your nails! Only the last one is really geared towards women, even men can enjoy a relaxing soak in the tub and a magazine of their interest as well! The point is that pampering yourself doesn't have to break the bank, and these are things you can do spur of the moment as well. Try these tricks when you are looking for a mood booster - knowing that you are taking care of yourself can go a long way. 3. Enjoy some silence - hectic household with kids running around you in circles? If you are craving a food to help deal with the stress, try stepping away from the situation if you can! Visit a health food store and pick up some essential oils that you like and give them a whiff while doing some deep breathing. Lavender and citrus are two that are recommended to combat stress. 4. Some affordable new clothes- if your achievements are related to weight loss or exercise, why not treat yourself to a new work out top or an affordable pair of jeans in your new size! Try shopping at places like Joe Fresh and Winners for these types of affordable treats, or consider checking out your favourite thrift shop for some great deals on hidden gems. 5. Hugs - one of the best ways to boost your endorphin release is to be hugged, so grab a friend, family member, a cuddly pet, or simply wrap your arms around yourself. It might sound silly but this contact can help reset us when we are stressed, and feel loved when we have achieved our goals.

Got any other ideas about how you could reward yourself when you are feeling stressed or like you deserve a treat? Have a close look at your snacking patterns and if you find yourself using them as a coping tool, take a minute to brainstorm how you can break the cycle.

- Dr. Sarah Penney, ND, MSc -

As originally written for

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