Friday, May 7, 2010

Book Quotes: Using Food as a Reward or Punishment

From Life Inside the "Thin" Cage by Constance Rhodes (page 70):

It is common in our culture to use food as a reward--I find myself doing this with my own son. A classic example of this is the promise, "Be good in the store, and Mommy will give you a treat." Indeed, food and the activity of eating were intended to be pleasurable. But it's important not to overemphasize the role of food as a reward, since this can send the message that eating is more than a normal and enjoyable part of our everyday lives. The child who is always rewarded with food grows into the adult who reasons away her overeating, saying, "I deserve this carton of ice cream. I've earned it!"

Adding to our confusion about the proper role of food is its use as a form of punishment. For example, when I was a child, my parents experimented with making us miss dinner as a consequence for wrongdoing. While many parents consider this an effective punishment, I personally think it is not a healthy one.

Using food as a punishment or a reward communicates that food and bad or good behavior are linked. It is only logical that these mixed messages can cause problems later in life when we turn to food for comfort or abstain from food as penance.

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