Re-framing how we think of treats and self-care
How many of you thought you wouldn’t be celebrating when you saw that today, February 09, is National Pizza Day? It’s a natural reaction, especially if, say, it’s week 2 of your new “month of health”, or you had just finished reading about a study that concluded how you can add 13 years to your life simply by changing your diet! (LaMotte, Sandee. “Changing your diet could add up to 13 years to your life, study says” CNN, 08 February 2022)
Healthy eating is definitely not overrated and is one of the best self-care routines that should be a wellness habit. But an equally important reminder today, another #WellnessWednesday on our #BeKindToYourself self-care challenge, is this: depriving yourself of things you enjoy can be the worst thing you can do to yourself.
For one, adopting change for the better takes willpower, and willpower, as all of us very well know, is not an unlimited resource. If you continue relying on willpower alone to drive changes, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Consider this powerful study by American social psychologist Roy Baumeister and cited by the American Psychological Association: subjects were asked to complete a difficult geometric puzzle after either sampling a plate of cookies or some radishes in a room filled with the aroma of freshly baked cookies. What Baumeister and his colleagues found was that the subjects who had radishes (and therefore resisted the cookies) gave up on the puzzle after about 8 minutes, while those who had the cookies went for an average of almost 19 minutes on the puzzle! It suggested that drawing on willpower to resist the cookies made them less capable to manage self-control in other subsequent situations.
Before you reach for the pizza delivery menu, hold up: this isn’t license for us to give in to every craving we have. It is a lesson, though, to be aware of the dangers of deprivation. There’s a reason why “cheat days” are touted as a lifesaver by even the fittest celebrities gracing your Instagram feed. But we’d like to do you one better: let’s re-frame how we think of treats as “cheats” and as pure enjoyment instead, which we all truly deserve! Here are a few suggestions about how we can enjoy and still consider them self-care routines:
Everything in moderation: as always, this age-old adage holds true. Go ahead and get that dessert, but perhaps not at every meal. Been eating salad lunches every day? Take a break on the weekend! Balance is key, and once you achieve it, it works almost every. single. time. With balance comes a built-in alert that can tell you when you’ve gone overboard or you’re depriving yourself, and that’s a good thing. Best of all, balance is achieved over time, which means it’s a routine that can then turn into a habit!
Truly enjoy the moment: when you’re having that slice of cake, stop berating yourself with every bite and telling the world you shouldn’t be having this sumptuous thing. It’s passive-aggressive behavior towards yourself, and that hardly counts as healthy, self-care behavior. You’re also likely perpetuating the wrong association of enjoyment with punishment.
Make deliberate choices: Flash news - not all treats are “bad” for you! Dark chocolate, a glass of red wine, even carbs and natural sugars in fruit, to name a few are things you can choose to have AND enjoy (see #2): by making intentional choices about what you’re eating - including the treats you build into your diet - you’re training yourself to understand that you have control over food, and not the other way around.
Ok, so now, maybe you should scroll through the food delivery app for the best pizza deal, order a classic Margherita plus a side of salad, and split the box with a friend! While you’re at it, share a photo or reel with us on Instagram with #BeKindToYourself #WellnessWednesday. Don’t forget to tag @puremaven and @theyard to inspire others to enjoy today’s fun observance, and for a chance to win self-care treats from The Yard and PureMaven!
This week: show us the treats, especially the healthy and delicious ones, you truly enjoy!
#BeKindToYourself @puremaven @theyard