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Does a "Reward Meal' Work?

I learned a lot from a trim personal trainor I worked out with who was very disciplined about her diet (as in her idea of a carb was half of a sweet potato, microwaved, nothing on it). She ate fruits, veggies, lean protein very little low fat dairy: but once a week she allowed herself a planned "Reward Meal" at which she ate what she wanted: a glass of wine, lasagna, french fries, dessert, whatever. But she said it was just a meal not a splurge lasting an evening or a whole day.
Her idea was that it gave an outlet for all those times when we want to eat something we shouldn't, and she commented that many splurges gradually did not live up to her expectations or made her not feel as well the next day as when she ate healthily.
What do others think about this concept???

Tue. Jan 29, 6:42pm

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I think if it works for you, go for it! It works for me, I do something similar and I'm able to get right back on track after that meal. I do know some people that carry it too far, one splurge turns into 3 meals in one day and then a week, etc. But if you can stop with one, why not? It won't derail your diet or health plans.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 6:48 PM

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Whatever works for you is good. I just count my calories so I am theoretically able to eat what I want. I just have to keep in mind though that if I decide to splurge on McDonalds complete with fries and apple ple then I will not have any calories left for my other 2 meals :)

Side note, I have not gone to McDonalds since October and I am down 30 lbs. - due to my calorie counting :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 6:53 PM

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I really don't like the idea of using food as a reward. I have now changed my mindset to look at is as necessary to keep my body going.

If you're going to reward yourself with something, let it be a new piece of gym clothes or new clothes, new anything not relating to food.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 7:09 PM

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I have done for several years - I did this while I was losing weight, and have continued as I've maintained. Actually I started doing this while losing weight. my husband and I have 'date night' every week and I promised him that no matter how much I measured and recorded my food during the week, that I would not do this on date night and that I would relax and order what I really wanted instead of sighing and ordering a salad. I do - I order what appeals to me and eat til I am satisfied. If I want it, I order dessert (almost always shared) and it has not hampered me one bit, nor does it turn into day 2, 3 or so on. Instead i have no problem turning down junk during the week because friday my wonderful husband will take me out to a nice restaurant and I can have whatever i'd like (and I don't eat like it's my last meal either because there's always next week).

I credit this for keeping me on track, but I know it doesn't work for everyone. I don't see it as 'rewarding' myself with food. I see it as a planned indulgence - one that I've budgeted for throughout the week and can 'afford'. I also agree that even this has gotten healthier - I simply can't eat ground beef anymore, or fries or a host of other fatty, greasy foods and I can't stand a pile of pasta swimming in greasy sauce. I order steamed veggies because I actually like them :O. Nor do I even care to eat more than a few bites of a rich dessert. Yep - once your body gets accustomed to better eating - you can really feel the difference!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 7:46 PM

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Ya I don't know if I would look at it as a reward.
I give myself one day a month to have whatever I want. And the next day I am right back on and usually at a lower calorie amount than previously because the food of the day before has left me feeling icky.
I also am finding as the months pass that I don't have a taste for the foods that I used to.
Now I just have to get to a place where I no longer want it.
But I have been doing this for 10 months now and it is working for me.
Down 162 pounds and counting.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 8:46 PM

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I think rewarding yourself with food... but you don't crave clothes. Aren't cravings a biological (if not neurological) desire ? No matter what else you reward yourself there will still probably be that one food that you are craving. I think reward is the wrong word... I've always heard of it as your "cheat" meal.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 8:50 PM

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my husband and I have scheduled all sundays as a dessert day. We love the discipline,the looking forward to what our one dessert will be for the week, sometimes we make it togther or even go out just for dessert. we both have had great success w/ weight loss.It works for us!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 8:58 PM

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I use to have a problem with using food as a reward but now I love to! Mostly because I love food. I think in the beginning it was hard to use food as a reward and not give myself conflicting messages but now that I've been at this for a while (over a year) I know I have really made this a lifestyle change. I eat very healthy 90% of the time so I like having a sort of outlet when i don't have to add anything up. I can just eat what I want and not think about it too much. For me, the reward is less about food and more about having a "guilt break".

But whatever works for you. I think everyone has their own issues with food. Obviously if you reward yourself with food all the time you'd never lose anything. Or maybe rewarding yourself with food is the reason you need to lose in the first place.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 11:44 PM

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Reward Meal, Cheat Meal, Break from Resisting Cravings Meal....

I started this thread and I appreciate all the input from the postings. Of course this concept, whatever name it is called, will not be good for everyone. So for the people who urged that rewards be a non-food item, I respect the wisdom of that . I realize that food is far too important to me, and that is part of the journey I am on.
However, I really appreciated hearing from folks who have been on weight loss for a long time and use this concept of planned indulgence: what I wondered about was if it helped you keep to your resolve the rest of the week or if it unhinged your determination to stay with your food/exercise plan?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 11:36 AM

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