We spend a lot of time stopping ourselves from doing things we believe are not good for us. We reign in our eating. We exercise early in the morning even though we would love to sleep in. We skip dessert. We stay late at work. We do these things because we want to have better future. Sometimes we must keep this perspective and know that even though these activities don’t make us ecstatic right now, in the long run we will be happy we didn’t eat an entire birthday cake.

However, what if I told you that treating yourself in a way that communicates love can be just as important or more important than staunch willpower?

Why do most of us want to be healthy in the first place?

I want to be healthy because I want to be able to play with my dog. I want to enjoy hiking up a mountain. To be perfectly honest, I want to be desirable to my husband. I want to live a long, active life where my biology and physiology allows my mental state to be one of joy and connectedness.

I don’t want to be healthy so I can always say no to cookies and treats. I want to able to be balanced enough to say yes to a cookie and a treat when it’s appropriate. I want to be able to indulge in a balanced and loving way. And when I go over board, which inevitably I will (thanksgiving anyone?), I want to have the experience to know that I’m worth getting right back up on that healthy bandwagon.

When we don’t get any treats, we feel depleted, resentful, and angry, and we feel justified in self-indulgence. We start to crave comfort — and grab that comfort wherever we can, even if it means breaking good habits. “I deserve this, I’ve earned this, I need this”

I embrace treats but I’m also very wary of treats. Treats help us feel energized, appreciated, and enthusiastic–but very often, the things we choose as “treats” aren’t good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt, loss of control, and other negative consequences just deepen the lousiness of the day. An extra glass of wine, an extra brownie, an impulse purchase…

So how do we treat ourselves in a way that “communicates love”?

To me this means seeking out the highest quality ingredients in food-related treats. Choose paleo treats made free of gluten, grains, and refined sugar, as these ingredients cause inflammation in the body. We want to indulge in treats that nourish our bodies, but still satisfy our need for something decadent and emotionally fulfilling.

This could also mean treating yourself to day of actively doing nothing, getting a massage, or doing a stay-at-home yoga retreat. Ultimately, communicating love through treats comes from a mindset of doing something for yourself because you love yourself, and doing it consciously and making an agreement with yourself not be feel guilty afterwards.

Real loving treats are things that contribute to your life force. They are things that make you feel cared for and loved. Just make sure that you are always giving your body the best, especially when you are treating it.

Action Steps:
Answer these questions:
• How can you treat yourself in a way that contributes to your life force?
• What are the treats you normally reach for? Why do you pick those treats?
• When you reach for a treat or treat yourself what kind of feeling are you actually reaching for?
• How can you commit to treating yourself next week? Be specific. What day? What time? Where? What will you do? Who will be with you, if anyone?