Why do I eat when I am bored?
Of all the reasons to blow calories, boredom eating is one of the most futile. It isn't about temptation, not understanding portion size or eating poor food choices, it's just about eating because you feel like there's nothing better to do.
And that right there is why it's futile… because there IS something better to do! Boredom eating can also often be linked to procrastination – you're using it to distract yourself from what you should be doing, whether that's work or a work out.
The great news is there are some easy tricks to snapping out of this habit.
Switch your food for fluid. Water will hydrate you and often, simply satiate your hunger too.
Go for a quick walk. Even a short burst of exercise will boost your mood and be better for you than mindless munching. You may have been craving the same little endorphin "feel good" burst from food that you'll likely get from exercise anyway.
Busy yourself out of boredom. You're actually in charge of your brain and stomach, so show them who's boss by simply telling yourself that you will complete a task and if you're still after food when it's done, then you can eat. Then busy yourself into distraction – whether that's sorting a closet or cleaning the bathroom. Chances are, you will break the boredom and skip the snack in the end.
Practice mindful eating. Prepare your food carefully – slice up a piece of fruit, lay it on a plate and eat it with no distractions, like TV or a phone. Concentrate on the texture and the taste. This method of slow and focused eating will allow you to tap into your hunger signals and what your body and mind actually need.
Spot the pattern. Consider when and where you're most likely to boredom eat. Is it sitting in traffic in the car? Watching TV at night? When you're home alone? If you can pick up a pattern, you can be more aware about not falling into a bad habit. If you know you like to have something in your hands when you watch TV, swap the snack for a pair of knitting needles or a fidget spinner… or a friendly other half! If you can pre-empt the pattern, you can also break it – for example, if you regularly boredom eat at 3pm, pre-empt the crash. At 2.45pm, go for a stroll outside, soak up some sunshine or have a cup of tea. Add a hit of stimulation instead of a hit of food.
Source goodness. It's much easier to stop yourself boredom binging on chips if there are no chips in the house. If you know you have a weakness for a certain food or tend to boredom snack on something in particular, then make it tougher to do so by eliminating the poor choices from the house or workplace entirely, or swapping them for healthier options instead – so if you can't hold back, then at least you're fuelling up with something nutritious and satiating.
It's been said that boredom is a pattern, not a reality. The great news is, you have everything you need to break that pattern and smash out some productive choices instead. You got this!