A lot of people feels the need to eat when they’re bored and have nothing to do, so, if you’re one of them, keep reading, we’ll show you the best ways to fix the problem and stay healthy.
Have you found yourself mindlessly devouring a tub of ice cream without even realising it? or that sometimes you find yourself staring into the fridge looking for something to eat but you’re not sure how you ended up there?
Well, it’s likely that you are foraging for food because you’re bored rather than hungry. We’ve all been guilty of doing this, even when we have the best intentions to eat healthily and avoid snacking unnecessarily. But the question is, how can you stop eating when bored?
The first thing you should do is try to work out what the real issue is behind your desire to boredom eat, and then you can find the right solution to stop yourself eating when you’re bored.
Why do I eat when I’m bored?
In order to find the answer to this question, you need to explore the reasons why you are eating when you are bored. There can be a number of underlying reasons why you’re eating when you’re not truly hungry. Here are a few of the most common;
Psychological studies have shown that when we are suffering from emotional stress, depression or other emotional difficulties, such as a breakdown of a relationship, then we are more inclined to use food as a mechanism to make us feel better. You should consider if the emotion you are feeling is actual boredom or if you are confusing boredom with a lack of fulfilment in your life or even depression.
Eating to fill an emotional void can be bad for your health because when we comfort eat to make ourselves feel better we tend to opt for foods that we are craving rather than foods that are good for us. After you’ve finished bingeing on your favourite pleasure giving snack, and once the sense of feeling full inevitably wears off, you’re left with a feeling of guilt which could lead to further comfort eating, and the cycle continues.
Eating out of habit
Habits are easy to get into and can be extremely hard to break, especially when eating out of habit is probably something that you’ve been doing your whole life. So when you’re bored and your first response is to walk over to the fridge and start looking for something to eat, it’s probably because you have got into the habit of using food as a mechanism to relieve your boredom.
It might be that you have a task or a list of boring chores that you need to do and are using food as a delay mechanism. It could be something as mundane as hanging up the washing, or emptying the dishwasher that’s making you reach for the snack cupboard for something else to do rather than have to face up to the task in hand.
How do I stop eating when I’m bored?
There are several ways to cure your boredom so that you can avoid eating to relieve it. You need to find things to do that will distract or entertain you. Here are some suggestions of things that you can start doing straight away that will keep you busy and help you stop eating when bored:
- Go for a walk or do some exercise – When you feel the urge to eat for no reason other than boredom, then a brisk 10-minute walk will not only distract you, it will also help you to burn calories and boost your fitness levels and health. You could also take up a new sport that you’ve never tried before, or join a Zumba or yoga class.
- Do a puzzle – Distract your brain by doing a quick Suduko puzzle, crossword, or a wordsearch. After a few minutes of concentrating you will soon forget about eating. Doing a puzzle is also a great way of exercising your brain and challenging yourself.
- Read – Pick up a book, or your favourite magazine and read your boredom away.
- Go online – Check your emails, Facebook, Twitter, watch the latest cute cat video, or distract yourself by catching up on the latest news and interesting blog posts.
- Do some crafts – Crochet or knitting are a good because your hands will be too busy holding needles and will stop you delving into the crisp packet.
- Do something creative – Draw or paint a picture, or write something. Not only will creativity relieve your boredom and stop you snacking, you could discover that you’re the next J K Rowling in the making.
- Meditation or deep-breathing – These methods are well-known for their ability to relieve stress and help you to feel relaxed, so you may not instantly associate meditation or deep-breathing as ways to bust your boredom. However, breathing deeply or quietly meditating will give you something to focus on and take your mind off unnecessary eating. You may want to do some research on these methods first in order to perfect your technique.
The important thing to remember is that you need to keep yourself busy with activities that you actually enjoy doing, rather than ones that you are just doing because you are trying to stop yourself from eating, otherwise you may end up eating to distract you from doing it!
There are other things that you can try that can also work as a way of distracting you from boredom eating, such as;
Drinking a glass of water
It might seem like a very simple solution, but drinking a glass of water will not only fill you up and take away your craving for food, it has also been proven that we often mistake thirst for hunger. You should also bear in mind the health benefits of drinking plenty of water.
Chew some gum or brush your teeth
The fresh mint flavour alone should stop you wanting to mix that with the taste of some of your favourite snacking foods. The idea of eating a slice of cake straight after chewing gum might put you off eating it. Also, brushing your teeth gives you something to do to distract yourself from opening the fridge.
Prepare healthy snacks
If you’ve tried out all of the boredom busting ideas and are worried that you might fall back into the boredom eating trap, then you could try keeping a prepared selection of healthy snacks in the fridge or snack cupboard just in case. The act of preparing the snack can be a distraction in itself. So, you could dice some carrot or cucumber sticks as a healthy nutritious alternative to crisps.
Side effects of eating when bored
Eating because you are bored can lead to weight gain. Every time we put food in our mouths we instantly start racking up the calories. To maintain a healthy body weight it’s recommended that women should consume no more than 2000 calories per day and men 2500. Without realising it you might be going over your calorie allowance for the day. It is also recommended that we should balance healthy eating with at least 30-60 minutes of exercise per day for a few days of the week.
Keep a food diary so that you can keep track of what you’re eating and when you’re eating it. Have a read through the diary at the end of each day so that you can see how often you are eating when you don’t need to you. You may notice a pattern emerging which shows you that there are certain times of the day when you are unnecessarily eating outside of meal times. Once you’ve identified what your ‘boredom’ eating trigger is, then it will be easier for you to do something about it and you can change the pattern for good.
Hunger or boredom?
When you feel the urge to boredom eat you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I actually hungry or just bored?
- Do I need to eat or do I just want to eat?
- When did I last eat?
- Can I hold off eating for 10 minutes?
Taking the time to ask yourself these questions may make you realise that you don’t need to eat something after all. But if, after answering these questions, you find that you still have the urge to eat something, then try eating a healthier snack option, like fruit rather than biscuits.
Eat smart to eat less
Eating foods that are lean in protein or fibre-rich will help you feel fuller for longer after your main meals so that you are less likely to eat when you’re bored; You’ll feel full up and you are also eating foods that can be combined to form part of a healthy balanced diet.
- Fruits and vegetables
- Eggs, milk, low-fat dairy products
- Lean protein meat and fish
- Wholegrain pastas, breads, and brown rice
- Beans and pulses
So, as you can see it’s actually easier to stop eating when you’re bored than you first thought. Once you take a few simple steps, you can change your attitude towards eating when bored and improve your health and fitness levels at the same time.