Updated: Jan 22
We live in the world where food is a huge part of social occasions and celebrations. Most
birthday parties are filled with sweet ‘treats’ and each calendar celebration through the
year has foods to accompany it.
Many also turn to food to reward themselves for a ‘job well done’ or getting through a hard
time or a task. How many times have you bought chocolate just because it’s the end of a stressful
Although it’s necessary to eat foods you like and feel pleasure when eating, there is a fine
line of enjoying your food and turning to food every time you have the need to feel better
or if you deserve a reward.
Sugar and processed foods hit our dopamine receptors, creating false sense of ‘reward’, yet
leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled afterwards. Check out some of my favourite ways to
reward yourself without ever turning to food or sugar. Many of these will also trigger hit
dopamine receptors, giving the sense of accomplishment.
If you haven’t tried any of these for a while, give it a go, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Get yourself flowers
Nothing can lift your spirits like a bouquet of colourful seasonal flowers. Plus, they last much
longer than a bar of chocolate and will boost your mood. Consider getting some
houseplants, as this way you’ll reap the rewards of watching them grow.
I often hear suggestions to get a regular massage, however if that’s not in your budget or
schedule, this is a wonderful way to give yourself some TLC. We’re on our feet all day long
and it can be particularly soothing to pause and take care of them. Add Epsom salt baths
and essential oils for extra relaxation and massage with an aromatic foot cream to finish.
Visit the bookshop
Reward yourself with a book that you wanted for a while, or be it a book you have just seen.
Either way, investing in a book will give you joy whenever you read it and will expand your
experience way beyond of what a short burst of sugar may.
Take a walk or cycle
Take a walk/hike/cycle to your favourite place around. A boost of fresh air will give you the
much- needed distraction, a dose of vitamin D will help increase your mood and being in
nature will boost dopamine, in turn creating a feeling of ‘reward’.
Tidy a cupboard
It might sound like a chore for many, yet those organization gurus will know exactly what I
mean. Tidying a part of your home Marie Kondo style can bring you immense pleasure and
sense of achievement, especially if you’re listening to your favourite podcast while doing so.
Play an instrument
If you play a guitar or a piano, this may feel like some precious ‘you’ time. But if you’re a
newbie, try taking up ukulele. Although practice is key, you might have just as much fun
when only practicing it every now and then.
Host a game night
If your board games are collecting dust and you haven’t seen some of your best friends in a
while, organise a game night to celebrate. Celebrating is always so much more fun in good
Take a nap
When was the last time you allowed yourself to nap (apart from holidays)? Set an alarm and
have a cat nap. Yes, even though there’s a million things on the list. Guaranteed to control
cravings and give you the much-needed energy restoration.
Book yourself into a workshop
Find a workshop that gets your excited like a 12-year-old, either it’s vintage bike restoration,
floral arrangements or lino printing. Spend time immersing yourself into doing something
fun and being a student again.
Visit the sauna
Giving your body the much-needed time to relax and destress in the sauna room feels even
better than ordering Friday night pizza. And the soothing effects on the body last much