I really dislike the word treats (and splurge) in regards to food.
A lot of people seem to like using the word treats because it makes them feel like they are doing something nice for themselves when they eat something like a sweet food or heavy meal. I think it makes the occasion feel more special and therefore allowable. But I don’t think we should be using the concept of treats when we are talking about the food we eat.
The problem with continuing to use the “treats” with food is that it is what got many of us into the overweight/obese situations we found ourselves in. As a child, how many of us were given “treats” when we did something good? Most of us first learned the concept as children – when you do something good you get a food reward! When you do something good you get candy! From the beginning most of us were not taught that food is fuel for your body. Even if we were verbally told this the message was compromised by the food rewards received for special occasions and good actions.
It makes me somewhat upset when I hear someone say they are going to treat themselves to ice cream after a long or stressful day. Why not “treat” yourself to something better? How about a nice relaxing bubble bath? Or some time with a good book and no distractions? Or any other kind of rewarding behavior other than food? When you use treats to satisfy another need you are missing out on a chance to really nurture yourself and instead misuse food.
And then there are those of us who use the word “treat” to explain something like a cookie that isn’t something we eat everyday. It’s a concept that is destined to come with the ideas of restriction and deprivation – the very concepts that lead to failure with most diets. I eat sweets every weekend but I don’t consider them treats. What exactly would I be treating myself for? A job well done on eating well all week? Isn’t that good food treat enough? The process of using food “treats” is one that can multiply and grow until it’s a bigger problem – once you start thinking of treats being acceptable they become commonplace. Instead of just having a “treat” once a week for something you’ve done well you can easily end up having “treats” all the time because you “deserve” them. I think there might be something else we deserve more than food.
For me personally, I became obese because I used food both to “treat” myself and cope with things as well as to abuse myself. I have the strangest past with food – it was both a comforter and a tormentor. So for me as an emotional eater the best solution was to learn how to take any kind of emotional/moral connection away from food (obviously I’m better but not yet perfect at this). I don’t use the concept of “treats” and I don’t consider certain foods good and other bad. I eat all kinds of food (some in limited portions, yes). I eat now mostly to fuel my body and keep it healthy as it can be. I don’t label foods good or bad – they are just foods after all. Any food can be bad or good depending on how you use it and how much you eat of it. Because I don’t think of one kind of food being better than another there is no “treating myself” to something I’m “not allowed” to have. Since I don’t feel restricted or deprived I don’t NEED the concept of treats to help me include things I want to eat but feel like I can’t.
This is all semantics really. Some of you will agree with me. Some of you will disagree. Some of you will probably wonder why I’m rambling on about such things. We all have certain words and methods we like and none are more right than the other. I just venture to question the idea that “treating” yourself with food is a good thing, because I think that the ideas of “treats” and “splurges” are more harmful than helpful.
Treat yourself well, please, but don’t treat yourself with food.