At a presentation about stress and autism, we received a good advice from the non-autistic presenter: We shall eat healthy and we shall try to recognize healthy food as a reward in itself. Her example was a chia mush, which she eats every morning and which makes her feel healthy and happy.
Well, I lack the surplus that would allow me to get to more than the top 3 items on my priority list. It’s also really more a survival list and one of the 3 points is sure to be something like taking a bath or washing clothes or other things you can not escape.
But I can often motivate myself to eat healthy and to go for a walk, and this does not even appear on my survival list as a task because it sneaks in as fun and pleasure that does not cost energy but gives energy instead: If only I get an ice cream, which is really a bit too big compared to what I would have earned after completing the task.
If for every 10 vegetables I eat, I may buy me a white-chocolate-licorice-lemon ice cream from the Ismageriet (preferably with whipped cream and cream balls), then we are quite well off. If every time I walk to work instead of taking the bus, and also walk on my way back, I get a creamy licorice ice cream with softice and chocolate granules on top, then the decision is taken. I walk.
Of course this can only be done when I have enough time to walk or to get past the ice cream shop after my 10th vegetable, instead of lying flat on the couch unable to get up again. But on the good days, it is an excellent strategy. And it also works with LaGlace-layer cake.
It was also the same idea that lay behind my thoughts about neurotypical and neurodivergent people.