Hands up if you ever get bored?
We see you.
All of you!
Hands up if your first go-to activity when you get bored is eating?
Most of you?
So, let’s talk about it!
When you find yourself idle, chances are you gravitate to munching on food? Is the line between boredom and hunger so thin that it is often difficult to differentiate the two? Yup. It sure is.
Here are some facts. Dopamine is responsible for the feeling of focus and interest; therefore, boredom and stress equate to a drop in dopamine levels. Enter boredom eating. This situation causes people to gravitate to the immediate gratification of unconsciously looking for something to increase these stats. For some that is scrolling, and for others, it’s food. Either way, awareness is key.
Overcoming the urge to boredom and stress eating is quite simple, but simple does NOT mean easy. Here are our tips on overpowering this habit:
- Mental Conditioning. Everything we do starts with a thought. That same principle applies to things we DON’T do too! Training yourself to remember the ratio of your level of hunger and your boredom or stress levels can significantly affect your urge to run to the pantry and look for munchies. Conditioning your mindset to instead focus on an otherwise dull or stressful task and immersing yourself and concentrating on it will also distract you from your desire to eat. This may be a difficult place to start. Still, once you do, you will eventually train your subconscious to become more productive and efficient, all while removing the urge to unnecessarily snack!
Help yourself out by posting a sticky note on your desk that says something as simple as “mindfulness” to keep your urges in check until it becomes more natural.
- Pantry Purge. We all have stress. We all have responsibilities and about 1 million decisions to make in a day. And when that stress hits, or maybe it’s the end of the day, most of us lack the ability to reason our way out of walking to the pantry and grabbing whatever looks tempting. But what if, when that temptation hits, there is no “junk” food to find? Would that make you stop for a second and think… “Huh, how did I end up here, in the pantry… again…?”. Yes, it should. And the act of having to go out and get that tempting snack you’re looking for generally convinces most people to find something else to do, or something healthier to munch on.
- Environment Management. Try limiting your repetitive tasks to foster a fast-paced environment or even spontaneity, I mean, if you have a choice! When you find yourself idle or inactive, try convincing yourself to get off the couch and take your dog for a walk or even start prepping for your next meal. This way, your productivity increases, and your eating urge subside. It’s a win-win!
- Reevaluate your urge to snack. This is such a valuable thing to learn… Whenever you feel hungry, check in with your feelings and environment and ask yourself, “Is this true hunger? Or is this boredom?”. Maybe you are watching Netflix, and you feel hungry. But are you really? Always remember to reassess your situation – did you just finish eating? Is there any reason you should be hungry again? Yes? Cool, then go for it! But chances are, at least some of the time, you are about to eat out of boredom! When you genuinely believe you are hungry, then eat! But eat slowly. It takes an average time of 20 minutes for your brain to signal your fullness. Our brains and stomachs don’t always follow the same timeline. BONUS: Put a sticky note by your desk/tv or wherever you need a reminder that consistently reminds you to check in with your hunger.
- Practice stress management. You have to learn to replace one habit with another. Walk. Read. Clean. Write. Have a bath. Call a friend. Hit the gym. Whatever it might be, practice doing it (or all of these things)consistently! Because we ALL know that food doesn’t fix the thing you are stressed about. It usually just adds to your feelings of discomfort if you’re consistently eating out of stress.
These tips are great for helping you do away with the unnecessary eating that is keeping you from your goals. If you need further guidance for healthier habits, we would absolutely love to help guide you. Our nutrition team at GPHF has loads of knowledge and skills to help you break through these tough habits.