Cindy Hutter

Breaking the Food Reward Chain

Posted March 20, 2014 by Cindy Hutter, MBA

As I’m about to introduce my young daughter to solid foods, I find myself thinking more and more about how I want to avoid using food as a reward—a practice that seems so ingrained in our culture.

There will be no rewards of sweets when my daughter finishes her vegetables or puts her toys away. There will be no lollipops for behaving well during a haircut or any other activity. Yes, I know. More seasoned parents everywhere are reading this and rolling their eyes thinking, “Just you wait.” But is it so crazy to think this isn’t possible? Why can’t rewards be extra outdoor play time or reading another book at bedtime or letting a child pick the family activity for the day, or even an old fashioned gold star sticker?

These same issues seem to follow us into adulthood. In almost every office I’ve worked, treats always seem to magically appear on Fridays as a defacto reward for making it through another week. Or, how about the promises to buy a friend a drink if they help you out with a favor. Instead of rewarding behaviors with food, what about a manicure or downloading of a new phone app. Surely food (or drink) isn’t the only motivator for people.

As NICHQ CEO Charlie Homer points out in his recent blog post about viewing health as a system, if we really want to improve children’s health, we need to focus not just on improving the quality of care children receive when they go to the doctor’s office; we need to change all influences that affect a child’s health. This includes modeling and practicing healthy behaviors at home, in school and in the community.

Are you willing to break the food reward chain with me? Start small. Pick one time this week when you would have traditionally used food as a reward and pick a non-food reward. See how your reward-receivers (your child, your spouse your coworkers) react and share your experience in a comment on this post. I’ll bet nearly 100 percent of people crave the satisfaction of being rewarded in any form, not necessarily by the food that serves as the reward. Once it works, pick another time and another time to swap in non-food rewards.

If enough of us practice this new behavior, as adults with other adults or as adults with children, it won’t seem so odd after a while and we can start to break the chain.

Share:

Add your comment

 
 

 

Archive

Tagcloud

Rhode Island CoIIN infant mortality health equity NASHP preterm birth Medicaid progesterone Breastfeeding rooming-in infant health maternal health Baby-Friendly parent partner patient and family engagement healthy weight healthy lifestyles childhood obesity primary care sickle cell disease SCD telementoring ECHO video conferencing socioemotional health childhood development pediatric sleep safe sleep Tennessee interview National Coordinating and Evaluation Center IM CoIIN maternal and child health medical-legal partnerships mobile app quality care disparities perinatal care overweight obese healthy weight clinic wellness public health pilot sites data collection quality improvement dads WIC education resources paternal engagement perinatal regionalization risk-appropriate care preterm infants high-risk babies Ten Steps public relations social movement LARC reversible contraceptives medical home pediatric medical home patient transformation facilitator PTF skin-to-skin rooming in smoking smoking cessation prenatal smoking Data information visualization charts QI SIDS SUID postpartum new mother webinar AMCHP QI Tips ongoing improvement fourth trimester partnership quality and safety coaching support PDSA Cycle leadership support year end holiday message reflections gratitute Medicaid data doctor relationship PQC perinatal quality collaboratives vision screening vision care vision health evidence-based guidelines ASH obesity health and wellness healthy living healthy eating home visitors home visiting programs March of Dimes APHA results evaluation supplementation formula reduction video infant loss social media advocacy NICHQ leadership Berns Best Fed Beginnings Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding sustainability stress prenatal care data capacity epidemiologists surveillance data PFAC community partners social determinants of health preconception and interconception care motivational interviewing Native Americans vulnerable populations ADHD NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale ADHD Toolkit patient engagement system design care coordination skin to skin newborn screening asthma ASTHO reduce smoking aim statement safe birth Texas Ten Step skin-to-skin contact 10 Steps staff training small tests PDSA acute care mother-baby couplet collective impact population health preconception interconception health Newborn Screening Program substance abuse breast milk formula milk bank crisis Huffington Post fundraising campaign first responders NYC