There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence, in moderation. Every day I stop at this one gourmet grocer next to my subway stop and buy a piece of 25-cent candy from the counter. Every day. Whether I’m in a rush or taking my time, good day or bad, this one morsel puts a smile on my face. Even better – it satisfies my sweet tooth enough so that I don’t overindulge later.
Changing your diet can be a challenge, even if it’s not necessarily a weight-loss regime you’re taking on. The switch to organic, local, and/or vegan products from conventional ones can be overwhelming. There are less aisles you’re allowed to go down in the supermarket and you’ll have to say goodbye to a lot of snacks and other processed foods you may have been eating your whole life. But it’s a behavioral shift well worth the anxiety.
Chances are, if you are shopping for healthier, sustainable food, you’re also the type of shopper who knows to bring their own reusable bags. GREAT. Don’t stop what you’re doing. However, you may want to take a closer look at what’s going into your bag before you pat yourself on the back. An interesting study published in the Portland Press Herald showed that as we shift to greener habits – even though we are doing so with the intention of benefiting the environment – we also see it as good behavior. Now I’m not speaking for everyone; I know that it’s natural behavior for many to bring reusable bags while shopping for organic groceries. But for those who are newer, the change is a more conscious one. What the article found was that those who use their own bags at the store and fill them with healthy items are also more likely to add an extra snack to the bag than shoppers who use the store’s bags. The snacks – ice cream, candy, chips, cookies – are rewards that shoppers allow themselves to celebrate their good deed.
The theory is that the bags represent the shoppers’ decision to do something positive for the environment. With that in mind, shoppers are more likely to make other green choices, such as picking out organic produce, and then to reward themselves for their good deed with a sweet or salty treat they wouldn’t otherwise buy.” – The Portland Press Herald
There’s nothing wrong with rewarding good behavior. But the behavior cannot be reliant on the reward, especially when human and environmental health are at stake. If you’re feeling good about your habits, positive reinforcement with a negative reward only contradicts your intentions. But, as I mentioned before, there’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence, especially if it’s something sweet. So if it’s going to take a snack to get you to shop healthier, at least choose a snack that coincides with your new, healthy lifestyle, like dark chocolate. It has all the deliciously deviant characteristics of a snack, but it also has antioxidants and serotonin-boosters that will leave you feeling happier and healthier. Choose a raw, organic brand that manufactures the chocolate sustainably. Even better if you find a brand that supports local artists and charities. Want to leave the store without any snacks at all and still feel rewarded? Buy snacks in bulk and keep them at home. You’ll conquer the outside aisles of the store with your reusable tote, save some money, and have a savory snack waiting for you at home.