Some say boredom is the root of all evil while others say that boredom is the mother of all invention. Whatever your take on boredom is boredom is a signal to the brain that something needs to happen. For some of that is a good thing. When we are bored we start to get creative and new ideas come from nowhere. For others boredom brings shame, guilt, and negative thinking. Those negative thoughts bring negative actions, one of which is eating while bored.
Eating while bored is usually a sign of distracted eating which numerous studies have shown can increase weight gain. This post will give you concrete strategies for how to deal with eating while bored so that you can stop eating while bored today.
People do not eat for no reason. We are triggered to eat based on something that our brain tells us.Triggers can look like hunger where your stomach starts to make noise and feel discomforting. Or it can be that you leave work and you usually pick up food before you head home.We eat at the mercy of the triggers that are in our brains.Every time that we eat there is a signal in the brain that is the source of where the action came from.
There are triggers that cause us to eat that are not as useful as hunger or time based triggers.
Our brains are wired to always look for the next source of food even when we think we are paying attention to something else.
Something as subtle as a commercial for food or even walking past the refrigerator can be enough for you to start looking for food to eat.
And when we find it the brain gets a dopamine hit for finding food and we get incentivized to start eating like we have been hunting for food in the wild.
The first step to fixing this problem is awareness.
If you want to stop eating when you are bored you need to be aware of the triggers that cause you to want to eat in the first place.
If you want to identify a trigger the number one thing you should do is keep a food journal. In the journal you should keep track of the following things.
These 5 questions will help you more easily identify the types of triggers that cause you to eat.
Once you identify what your triggers are you need to be able to act only on the triggers that you think are appropriate.
You need to make it hard to eat whenever you do not want to eat.
For example, If you want to make it so that you stop eating when bored you should make it harder to eat when you are not hungry.
It is easy to eat because you are bored when you have snacks that are easily accessible whenever you want them. You can't eat when there is no food to eat.
If you remove many of the unnecessary times that you eat you can accomplish a lot of things.
When you make it harder to act on the trigger you'll need more motivation to do the action.
Just like if you were out in the wild you only go out looking for food when you have no other options left.
For example, you could have eaten three hours ago but you have cookies that are in your room. It is easy for you to do it so you'll be more likely to eat those cookies. You can keep the cookies in the pantry. Now if you want to eat the cookies you'll have to put in more effort to go into the pantry and find the cookies.
This decreases the likelihood that you will eat them compared to if they were in your room.
Now imagine if those cookies were not in your house anymore and you had to drive 20 minutes to the grocery store to eat them. How likely are you to do that three hours after you just finished eating?
The harder you make it to act on triggers the less likely that behavior will occur again.
If you find yourself consistently eating when you are bored it is probably because you have internalized that as an unconscious habit. I wrote about unconscious eating habits and what the dangers of them are in a previous blog post here. Habits are hard to break cold turkey but with the right strategy you can break your habits much easier.
The strategy that I feel will work best if you are trying to remove a bad habit is habit replacement. This works by replacing your habit of eating while bored with another habit. I explain one strategy you can use in the list at the end of the page.If you cannot stop eating when you are bored you have to find a way to change how you eat.
It is important that you change your eating habits in ways that are sustainable in the long term. If you spend time working on habits that are ultimately unsustainable you will always end up slipping back into the bad habits that you are trying to get rid of.
The ideas I propose will be sustainable. It is up to you to choose the right ones that fit into your lifestyle so that they can continue being used long term.
You might eat when you are bored because you typically do not eat when you are hungry. Learning to eat when hungry is not an easy thing to do. It requires you to change how you eat everyday for the rest of your life. If you eat only when you are hungry you will not eat when you are bored. But there are many benefits that you can gain once you turn eating only when you are hungry into a habit.
You can stop eating because you are bored by being intentional with your decision to eat. You can do this by intentionally planning when you eat throughout the day. This could look something like intermittent fasting where you only allow yourself to eat within a specific time window. Or maybe you keep yourself to a certain number of meals. For example, try only eating 3 times a day. Whatever works and is sustainable for you.
If you consistently eat because you are bored it is probably because it has become a habit to you. According to science, habits are notoriously hard to break when you try to stop cold turkey.
But one of the most effective ways that you can break a habit is to replace the habit with something else. For example, instead of eating when you are.