Should We Use Food As A Reward?

In today’s society, the practice of using food as a reward, especially with children, is widespread. However, the detrimental consequences of this approach cannot be overlooked.

This article explores the negative effects of using food as a reward and offers alternative options to promote healthier behaviors. By examining the impacts on eating habits, expectations, and the alarming issue of childhood overweight and obesity, it becomes apparent that finding non-food-based rewards and fostering a positive relationship with food are crucial for overall well-being.

Negative Effects of Using Food as a Reward

Using food as a reward has detrimental effects on individuals, leading to the development of unhealthy eating behaviors and contributing to weight gain. The long term consequences of using food as a reward include psychological impacts such as an increased expectation of instant food rewards and a higher likelihood of eating when not hungry.

These unhealthy habits can have significant health implications, particularly in the context of childhood overweight and obesity. Cultural influences and educational strategies should be considered to address this issue effectively.

Alternative Rewards to Food

Instead of using food as a reward, it is important to consider alternative non-food rewards that can promote positive behaviors and create a healthier relationship with food.

Creating healthy habits, encouraging positive behavior, developing self-control, fostering independence, and nurturing creativity are all important aspects to consider when choosing alternative rewards.

Spending quality time with your child, organizing playdates, visiting places of interest, and buying them books or engaging in activities that they enjoy can all serve as effective non-food rewards.

Using a Star Chart as a Non-Food Reward System

A star chart can serve as an effective non-food reward system. It has several benefits in teaching discipline, fostering independence, and encouraging goal setting.

Firstly, it teaches discipline as children learn to work towards earning stars through their actions and behaviors.

Secondly, it fosters independence as children take ownership of their progress and strive to achieve their goals.

Lastly, it enhances self-esteem and emphasizes personal growth as children see their efforts being recognized and rewarded.

Saying No to Food-Based Rewards

Food-based rewards should be avoided to promote healthier choices and a positive relationship with food. Saying no to food-based rewards has long-term benefits, such as breaking unhealthy habits and establishing boundaries.

Instead, parents should consider healthy alternatives like spending quality time with their child, organizing playdates, or buying them a book they have talked about. This approach can have a positive psychological impact on children, teaching them to value non-food rewards and reducing the risk of developing unhealthy eating behaviors.

Parental influence plays a crucial role in shaping children’s attitudes towards food.

Leading by Example

  1. One effective approach to promoting healthier choices and a positive relationship with food is by leading by example.
  2. Setting examples of healthy alternatives and non-food rewards can encourage children to make better choices.
  3. Role modeling positive reinforcement through activities like spending quality time together or engaging in physical activities can help reinforce the idea that rewards do not have to be food-based.

Building Healthy Habits

To establish long-lasting healthy habits, it is crucial to consistently reinforce positive behaviors and choices without relying on food-based rewards. Encouraging physical activity, teaching self-control, fostering independence, promoting creativity, and enhancing problem-solving skills are key elements in building healthy habits.

Promoting a Positive Relationship With Food

Continuing the discussion from the previous subtopic, it is important to foster a positive relationship with food. This can be achieved through various strategies that promote mindful eating and balanced indulgence.

  1. Exploring emotions: Encourage individuals to understand their emotional connection to food and find alternative ways to cope with emotions without relying on food.
  2. Nurturing self-care: Emphasize the importance of self-care practices that go beyond food, such as engaging in physical activities, practicing relaxation techniques, or pursuing hobbies.
  3. Mealtime rituals: Create a positive and enjoyable atmosphere during meals by incorporating mealtime rituals like setting the table nicely, eating together as a family, and savoring the flavors of the food.


In conclusion, the use of food as a reward can have detrimental consequences on individuals, particularly children, leading to unhealthy eating behaviors and contributing to weight gain.

However, alternative rewards that do not involve food, such as spending quality time or using non-food-based reward systems like star charts, can promote healthier choices and support overall well-being.

By saying no to food-based rewards and leading by example, we can build healthy habits and foster a positive relationship with food.