Treating Yourself or Harming Yourself?
Why is it that treating yourself always seems to be paired with doing something that is also somewhat self-destructive?
We usually “treat” ourselves with things like cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, wine, sugary coffee drinks, basically high sugar low nutrient foods that taste good in the moment and have harsh effects on our bodies.
We need to think about treating ourselves in a way that is actually supportive and truly positive.
What if your treat was doing something that not only gave you satisfaction but also had an overall positive affect on your life?
What if your treat was doing something that left you feeling good, calm, and centered?
(By the way, can you remember the last time you felt good, calm and centered? Pause, take a deep breath in through your nose for five seconds and out through your nose for five seconds. OK… now you can keep reading.)
You can treat and reward yourself in ways that are fun but don’t harm your body. And, sometimes… it’s totally ok to choose to eat a piece of cake! As long as you have awareness around the choice you’re making..
I’m the first person to stand up for balance and I absolutely don’t believe that we need to live in a world without any sugar at all. I do, however, believe that we need to reframe the way we look at these treats that we so often feel inclined to reward ourselves with.
When it feels really challenging to give up the idea of treating yourself with sweet desserts, it’s probably time to take a deeper look at why these treats are playing such an important role for you.
Where is the treat missing in your life?
What sweetness could you be giving yourself qualitatively?
If 3pm hits every day and you immediately feel the need to treat yourself, a few things are probably going on.
1) You've trained your brain.
You have literally trained yourself to crave sugar at the same time every day. We are creatures of habit; it’s a fact of human existence that you cannot escape. The more you do something the more you habituate it. Just like having the habit to go to the bathroom at the same time every morning, you also create the habit of eating sugar every day at 3pm.
2) Sugar is addicting.
Sugar stimulates the same part of the brain that cocaine does, making it an incredibly addicting substance. If you ‘re reading this and feeling appalled/frustrated/annoyed/confused by what I’m saying… there’s a good chance sugar’s got a hold on you. You can learn more about the science behind this here. Now, just because it is addicting, doesn’t mean you need to completely ban it from you life. We are all different. Some of us can drink alcohol in moderation and others of us can’t so we need to give it up all together, the same thing applies to sugar. Depending on our body and its needs, and your emotional relationship with sugar it’s totally possible to have a healthy relationship with the substance. I know I can enjoy a cupcake every once in a while and there was a time I was completely addicted to sugar. So, there’s hope.
3) You're outsourcing your happiness.
You might be outsourcing your happiness and good feelings onto the sugar or the treat you allow yourself to consume each day. Where is the sweetness missing in your life? What are you doing that’s causing you to seek satisfaction that is outside of yourself? If this treat is the highlight of your day, something is probably off. And getting to the root of what that thing is requires you to really be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling on a day-to-day basis. Do you hate your job? Are you struggling in your relationship? Do you feel totally disconnected from yourself? All of these things can cause you to outsource your happiness onto something like sugar. What happens when we outsource our happiness? Your happiness becomes something that can easily go away.
You could be experiencing one, two, or all of these things, and many other things as well. Because you’re a unique individual, the nuances of your experience are completely unique to you.
So by now you might be considering that this pattern you have of “treating yourself” with foods that actually leave you feeling crappy on a regular basis might be one you’d benefit from breaking. The good news is, the first step to breaking that pattern is to simply acknowledge it. Knowing it’s there and observing it is more than half the battle.
The next step is to start to consider how you can cultivate that sweetness or happiness that the sweet treat fleetingly brings you, within yourself. How can you create that feeling without needing any external factors? Is it simply being able to sit and breathe with yourself? Does journaling bring you a similar feeling of happiness? How about sitting and looking at a beautiful view? Simply turn your attention to how you can cultivate happiness and sweetness within yourself rather than outsourcing it to cupcakes and sweet coffee drinks.
Treating yourself can be done in a way that brings you joy and also lifts you up? Shouldn’t a treat be something that is truly positive and not something that’s wearing a mask? Sugary treats can be delicious but they come with a ton of baggage that’s easy to forget about after a long day at work. They’ll leave you feeling guilty, full, bloated, frustrated with yourself, and hungry for more sugar.
In the next few days, try treating yourself in a way that fills you with pure joy and doesn’t have anything to do with dessert. You might find yourself surprisingly satisfied. And by practicing that level of self-care, you might also find yourself feeling a little bit more confident.