Have you ever gotten mid-way through a snack, only to realize you’re not actually hungry – just bored? Scientists have explored the concept of boredom eating for some time, suggesting it could stem from a range of factors, including the sense of pleasure we get when we eat. But, how do you stop eating out of boredom?
When we’re bored, we may eat out of habit or in an effort to fill an emptiness we feel inside. It’s pretty common for most of us to reach for food when you don’t have anything else to do.
While eating out of boredom from time to time isn’t necessarily something to worry about, it can become a problem when it happens too often. If you constantly eat when you’re not hungry, you will find yourself dealing with weight gain and other issues.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the temptation to eat out of boredom, so let’s talk about a few of them here.
Eat Regularly Throughout the Day
The first step in preventing eating out of boredom is to adjust your food schedule. Try to spread your calorie intake throughout the day by establishing a regular meal and snack schedule for yourself. This should ensure you feel full, satisfied or at least not hungry more consistently during the day and are less likely to consume calories when you have nothing else to do.
Although you’re not guaranteed to avoid eating when you’re full, you’ll be more inclined to look for other ways to entertain yourself. What’s more, the knowledge that you’re planning to have a snack or meal soon may help in stopping you from eating until the right time.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your eating schedule until you find something that works for you.
Make Your Food Choices Carefully
Choosing good wholesome food can also help reduce the risk of eating when you’re not really hungry as well as minimize the potential side effects of eating too much.
It’s important to avoid restricting your diet and completely eliminating food as much as possible. If you find yourself reaching for specific types of foods when you’re bored, you might be tempted to stop eating those completely.
While this may sound like a good idea, the fact is that cutting specific foods out of your diet can just make your cravings for them intensify. If you’re overwhelmed by the desire to eat something, you’re more likely to binge eat them when you finally give in and have what you’ve been craving and denying yourself.
When it comes to snacking, it’s worth investing in healthy, filling alternatives to keep your stomach feeling satisfied. Some foods are particularly filling. For instance, proteins like eggs and hummus are a great choice for snacking, as are fiber-rich foods like whole grains.
Foods high in water like celery, cucumbers and carrots are also excellent for keeping you feeling satiated too. Try dipping some carrot sticks in hummus for a satisfying lunch or snack.
Practice Mindful Eating
One of the reasons eating when you’re bored is so common is that many of us have gotten used to mindless eating. We consume foods without really paying much attention to what we’re eating. We scroll through our phones or check our email, watch TV, etc. without focusing on the food we may be stuffing into our mouths.
Most of us do this on a limited basis or most of the time. Being more mindful about how and when you eat can be a good way to reduce your negative food habits.
Hot Tip: Try counting your chews. See if you can make it to at least fifteen before swallowing. I think you’ll be surprised how little you actually chew your food.
Mindful eating means paying attention to your mental and physical states when you eat.
Some studies have found that mindfulness is an excellent tool to help you stop eating out of boredom. Eating more mindfully will also help you understand the difference between boredom and hunger so you can make better decisions about when and how much to eat.
The next time you sit down for a meal, pay attention to how the food makes you feel, what you can taste, what the textures are, and so on. You may eat less as a result of this more mindful eating.
Know Your Triggers
Boredom eating is a psychological condition which has nothing to do with your actual physical hunger. At times, this psychological condition can be aggravated by other factors, like stress, emotional upset or anxiety.
You may be more likely to eat out of boredom when you have easy access to food, or when you see a lot of food on television or social media.
As part of your mindful eating strategy, consider keeping a food journal about what’s happening in your environment and about how you’re feeling (stressed anxious, etc.) when you’re tempted to eat out of boredom.
One of the most common reasons we eat out of boredom is because our minds are distracted by something else.
If you find yourself constantly reaching for extra food when you’re sitting in front of a television or scrolling through your phone, that’s a great clue you would be well served to reduce your exposure to screens.
Finally, if you’re struggling with eating from boredom, look for other ways to cure your boredom. When you start to feel restless and want to go to the fridge, put on your coat and go for a walk around the block. If the weather is rainy, do some laps around your house or apartment.
Exercise will distract you from the urge to snack while also physically removing you from food.
There are other ways you can experiment with distractions too. Sometimes, reading a book or doing something with your hands will keep you busy enough to avoid eating.
Some people find simple breathing exercises are enough of a distraction too. Experiment with different methods until you find something that works for you and helps you stop eating out of boredom.
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
I’m author, health coach, and entrepreneur Cheryl A Major, and I would love to connect with you! If you’re new to the world of creating better health, both mental and physical for yourself, please check out my training on how to get gluten out of your diet. Becoming Gluten Free Me is where to check it out. Learn how gluten affects us and how to go about reducing or eliminating it from your diet. You don’t have to suffer with Celiac Disease to benefit from getting gluten out of your life!
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P.S. My latest book is about achieving success when you set out to make changes in your health and includes a case study of a very successful client who set and achieved her own goal. This book is scheduled for release during May of 2023. In the meantime, please take a look at the other books I’ve written.