While winter tends to bring on boredom more than other times of the year, eating because you’re bored can happen anytime. It’s that urge to fill in the gaps because, either there’s nothing else to do or you have an emotional craving that isn’t met. You’re not doing anything productive, exciting or rewarding, so turning to food can be a reward and take you to a time that was better and gratifying. Stop eating out of boredom by learning to identify what you need. Then you can replace the boredom…and the eating…with a more gratifying experience.
Stick with a routine.
There are some people that only eat when they’re hungry, but for the rest of us, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, people eat when they’re thirsty, but many times, there’s an emotional cause. When you feel like eating, first drink a large glass of water to see if you were really thirsty. Rather than eating when the mood strikes, create a meal schedule and stick with it. Include not only meals, but also snacks on the schedule. Eventually, it will become second nature to eat at a specific time and you will have changed your habit of bored eating.
Find an alternative to eating.
Rather than eating that big bowl of chips, find an alternative to chomping down the calories. I had one client that found that doing crunches, sit-ups and other tough exercises during commercials—or any time she was alone and thought about snacking—cut the desire after a few weeks. While she chose the most brutal exercises and ones she hated, almost as punishment, you can substitute ones you enjoy. That quick workout gives you something to do and can help cut the craving to eat.
Binging often has an emotional cause.
If you’re a snack-o-holic after midnight, there’s often a reason. Sometimes, it is just boredom, but at not at other times. Identify what makes you want to snack. Is it loneliness at night when you’re watching TV or are family get-togethers the problem. If you find yourself losing your cool at a family get-together, snacking is often a desire to feel better. For those lonely nights in front of the TV, it’s a companion.
- You may not have to worry about how much you eat if you have only healthy food on hand. Have ready to eat fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator. These are low calorie foods that boost your nutrition.
- Create a “to-do” list of quick jobs that only take ten to fifteen minutes. You can even break down cleaning an entire room to several ten to fifteen minute jobs. When the urge to snack hits, tackle one of them.
- Find an alternative. If you feel like binging out of boredom during the day, take a walk. Make it brisk. If you have a friend that also snacks out of boredom, talk to them about texting or calling each other when the urge hits. Sometimes, just hearing another voice helps.
- When all else fails, brush your teeth. Not only is tooth brushing a signal you’re done eating, the toothpaste taste in your mouth makes sweet foods taste bad. You’ll have healthier gums, cleaner teeth and stop some of the boredom eating in the process.