5 Ways to Reward Yourself Without Food

Food is a common reward. Need to celebrate? Let's go out to dinner.  A kid got a good grade? Here's a cookie! Really killed it in your workout? You deserve that cheeseburger. Don't you? But the habit of rewarding yourself wth food isn't really the healthiest choice. Besides, we can become like puppies with access to the treats box when we then start to look for ways to reward ourselves. Ultimately, this system can lead to disordered eating.

The good news is that there are plenty of other ways to celebrate our achievements and good news. So before opting for that brownie fudge sundae or fast food burger, check out these fun (and calorie-free) ways to reward yourself (and your kids or grandkids).

1. Turn on Your Favorite Music (And Turn it UP)

Dancing is a great mood booster, and you don't have to go to a club to do it. Turning on some upbeat music and dancing around the house works just fine. Not only does it have the potential to create an even better mood, but people who dance also get in some good exercise and benefit their cardiovascular fitness. That’s its own reward, right? Also though, nothing feels quite so celebratory as dancing around the house. There's a reason this is the response in most movies: it's the classic and oft-overlooked way to show how good we feel. So turn it up and shake that booty. 

2. Call a Friend

Laughing really may be good medicine and our friends are the best place to get that laughter. Being with them relaxes the body and laughing together helps protect the heart, which might even mean a longer life. It’s easier to feel optimistic when spending time with happy, cheerful people, also. When celebrating a victory or looking for a non-food reward option, a good laugh with a friend might be just the right way to enjoy a small (or big) success in life. So call someone up and tell them your good news. The light-hearted opening to the conversation may be just the thing to really kick up those endorphins.

3. Take a Selfie

Selfies get a bad rap but here's the thing: if you take a selfie right after you get great news or accomplish something big, you're essentially saving that memory for you to find later. You can revisit that moment, feel that high again, and get twice the mileage out of one great event. For a bonus feel-good, create an album of your great moment selfies to flip through when days are tougher. Remember you can give yourself high-fives and hugs and even compliment, too. "Way to go!" means just as much from yourself as from someone else if you let it.

4. Perform a Random Act of Kindness

One of the best ways to feel good is to do something for someone else. And many of us turn to acts of kindness when we're in a slump. But what about using kindness to turbo-boost your already great day? Whether it’s donating to an important cause, taking a homemade meal to a neighbor, or just giving a compliment to a stranger, there are a million ways to help others feel valued and seen. Making people smile, giving them help and hope, and helping them feel better about themselves is a great non-food reward to give ourselves.  

5. Plant Flowers

Nothing provides years of joy quite like flowers. If you plant some perennial bulbs in the yard or in some pots every time something wonderful happens, you'll have an incredible garden in no time. For small spaces try a large pot set just outside the door or on a balcony that you can add to from time to time until it's too full of flowers and you need to start a second pot. For an outside garden, try starting a butterfly garden or a joy garden. In the winter, you can purchase bulbs, label the envelope with the cause for joy, and plant them in the spring while remembering how great that event was. Imagine walking through your joy garden in a few years knowing that every flower comes from a great thing that has happened in your life. 

No matter what kinds of victories we celebrate, food isn't the necessary reward we tend to think it is. For the creative mind, there are so many other options that can continue to give us joy for years while that cheesecake is only going to taste good for a moment. 

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2/16/2023 5:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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