Non-Food Rewards

Published by Lydia Richmond on

Hi. My name is Lydia, and I love dessert. Any dessert, mostly. Cake. Ice cream. Chocolate. Candy. Cupcakes. Whipped Cream. Whatever I find is usually 100% ok with me. So much so that I have often rewarded myself with a cake or pint of ice cream for a job well done…whatever the goal may have been. One time, I even rewarded myself for running a 5k with a whole birthday cake. It was several months after my birthday. Learning how to reward myself with non-food rewards has not been easy, so I wanted to share some of the things that make me happy as a reward.

First, I had to recognize that I could feel rewarded without food being involved. I am making this sound extremely simple, but it’s not. Rarely does an hour go by that I am not thinking about what we’re going to have for dinner or what I might have tomorrow morning for breakfast. When we plan a trip, I’m always looking up restaurants and deciding what I’ll have at the restaurant that will feel the most naughty.

Sometimes I wonder if my obsession with food like this is something I can’t control — it really just sometimes lives deep within me, and I can’t seem to overcome it.

However, in the last few months, I’ve learned that Lydia is in control of Lydia’s destiny and therefore does have the power to make choices that I won’t regret later.

(For the record, I still have a good piece of candy here and there…but my goal has been to figure out how to give myself happy rewards that don’t revolve around sinful sweets.)

Free Ideas

It doesn’t hurt to reward yourself with things that also don’t cost. So let’s start there.

Naps – Take a dang nap. All the things will wait. This was a hard one (and still is) for me to recognize. Funny how I could fall asleep for a bit and all the work was still there when I woke up. AND buildings didn’t explode because I didn’t answer an email within 2 seconds.

Walks – Sometimes, we deserve simple alone time, and it’s awesome to blend that alone time with activity. A walk can clear your mind or simply recharge you. It doesn’t have to be a long one, and you don’t necessarily have to break a sweat. But there is something glorious about being in the fresh air.

TV binge – Technically, yes, this costs something, but you’re likely already paying it. Take advantage of that monthly fee and binge a show. Math Man and I binged The Walking Dead this summer (how did we wait so long to watch that?!), and we loved it. It was definitely a treat to turn off all the work and see Daryl defeat some walkers.

Games – When was the last time you just stopped and played a game or did a puzzle? My kids love card games these days, and I have enjoyed laughing with them as they beat me or vice versa! Plus, embracing my inner competitive child is always fun.

Books – Read a book! Without feeling guilty! And make it a good one! Back before I had kids, I read a book in a day or two. Now, it can take me a month or two. That’s sad! So I’ve been trying to reward myself more and more by telling the kids that I’m in the middle of an awesome story and want  them to let me read. Not only do I then get to read my book, but they see me loving the written word. Win-win!

Buying Stuff

Clothes – I’ve tried StitchFix and enjoyed, lately, the results. This second round of trying, I was more honest with my answers to the styling questions. Being more honest made me happier with the choices I received. It’s always fun to celebrate with a new pretty dress or shirt. Amazon is also a resource I love since they have added the “free returns” option.

CraftsMaking crafts and painting has always been therapeutic for me, so sometimes I escape to my craft area and make something for me or for a friend. Since I bought my Cricut, I’ve had a lot of fun making decor for the house although Math Man worries that I will make our house look too much like the waiting area of a Cracker Barrell (which, for the record, I love but I get his point).

Decor – Speaking of decor, I once rewarded myself by “frivolously” purchasing some outdoor lamps for the porch. I say frivolously not because they were expensive but because they weren’t really necessary. But I can look at those lamps I’d been wanting and smile remembering the “for me” task I completed.

For You

Bottom line, think of things that will make you happy that are for you. Food is an easy answer because it is close and usually easy. Recognizing that I am worth so much more than food was an exhilarating and freeing feeling! What other non-food rewards do you suggest?


This month, I’m part of a link-up with fellow bloggers using the theme, ice cream. I took great liberties with the topic. Go check out what my blogging buddies have done:

Strawberry Pink Lemonade Ice Cream from Baking in a Tornado

You Color My World with My Heartfelt Sentiments

Tropical Sugar Free Ice Cream from Spatulas on Parade

Dondurma – Now you Have it Now You Don’t (Buying Ice Cream in Istanbul) from The Ground Beneath my Feet

Ice Cream and Psychology from Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

Categories: health

4 Comments

Karen BakingInATornado · August 12, 2019 at 9:57 am

This is a hard learned lesson, especially since it’s easier to shove something in your mouth than to take time for yourself but you are so right, there are so many rewards that are healthier (and less calories too).

Tamara · August 12, 2019 at 10:27 am

Hi, my name is Tamara, and I am foodie, too, especially one with a sweet tooth!
While I believe taking a nap, meeting a friend or doing a craft is a great alternative for a calorie treat, “buying stuff” may be just another unhealthy substitutive gratification. Of course it depends on what you buy.
Way to put Lydia in the driver’s seat!

Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade · August 12, 2019 at 10:51 am

Rewarding myself without food is something that I have had to adopt this last year. I am working on me and using the WW Freestyle plan. One thing I “used” to do was if I lost a few pounds I’d celebrate with a goodie, something sweet. No more. Now I celebrate by acknowledging my accomplishments and seeing that soon I’ll need a new wardrobe then it’s a shopping spree! WOO HOO
I do love to spend time on our screened porch, this has brought me far more pleasure and rewards than any donut ever has.
Thanks for sharing with us!

Kia · August 12, 2019 at 1:24 pm

I love love love this post because I too usually go for food as a way to reward myself or my daughter for something. Both of us a getting a bit chubby though and I really hate making the food-reward connection stronger than it already is. I am also trying to consume waaaay less stuff so your section of non-buying rewards is my favorite! I am thinking that maybe I could make up a bunch of little rewards tickets inspired by that section (made from reused paper packaging) that I could give out to my daughter. She would absolutely love the games and TV programs. Maybe I can also figure out how to create some games specifically for her that we could play together. Thank you so much for this post!

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