The idea of what constitutes a treat will differ from one person to the next. Something I’ve been reflecting on for some time now is how the concept of food and drink treats also differs from other treats we might gift ourselves.
If we treat ourselves to a massage, some extra me time to read alone or a trip to the theatre, all those things generally have a wholly positive impact on our lives (excluding any financial costs that might come with them 😉). We feel less stressed, more relaxed, we have a cultural experience or learn something new.
When it comes to food and drink treats, on the whole they are only really treating our tastebuds and fooling our brains into feeling happier or more relaxed for a short space of time. The most common treats are calorie-dense, nutrition-poor and not only have very little positive impact on our health but they can actively contribute to health complications if consumed regularly or in large quantities.
So the question I’m asking is, is it therefore really a treat at all?!
How often do we treat ourselves? When I was growing-up treats were for the weekend, for birthday parties, special celebrations, summer holidays and the like. They didn’t feature continually throughout the week, all year round.
Nowadays we might treat ourselves because it’s Friday night. But what if treats also carry on into Saturday and then Saturday night too? Perhaps getting through Monday deserves a treat and Thursday is the new Friday so perhaps we should start the weekend treats then? Wednesday is hump day so that might need a treat to help us through and all of a sudden treats aren’t treats at all they are just the way we eat. What’s more, the sense of reward has probably worn thin so are we just saying it’s a treat to square the circle and help us to explain away our food choices?
It might make it easier to consider differentiating between actual treats and what have become daily habits. Actual treats are less frequent, significant, well-earned and special. Daily habits are where we’re explaining away our choices of consuming food and drink that tastes good but isn’t good for our bodies.
Regularly cracking open the wine after a tough day at work could be viewed as a common example of temporary self-medication to help us feel happier or less tense. Now, it’s not the end of the world, I’m sure most of us have done it but if we are regularly using our idea of treats to avoid dealing with something then all other things being equal, that something is likely to still be there the following day, week, month etc except we might be several pounds heavier with potential health complications to boot.
I’m not writing this to preach about what any of us should be eating but to invite us all to question our own relationship with food and drink and whether or not it is a healthy one.
From a self care perspective let’s ask ourselves if we are treating ourselves too frequently, perhaps to the point that it has just become the way we eat?!