Struggling with boredom eating? Here are our top tips for how to stop it and deal with situations differently.
Do you notice yourself eating out of boredom rather than true hunger? While that’s nothing to be concerned about when it happens occasionally, it can become a bad habit and lead to overeating.
These days, we are surrounded by delicious foods 24/7, so no wonder we reach for that chocolate or bag of chips to feel better!
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Performing repetitive tasks, having to wait or wanting time to pass more quickly, there are many situations in which we get bored and find it hard to experience.
But what does this have to do with eating?
When we’re in this state of boredom and want to eat, what we’re really doing is trying to feel excited again and having some kind of stimulation going on.
After all, our dopamine system evolved with the very purpose of making adaptive things like eating feel more rewarding so that we wouldn’t forget to do them and just vanish!
Let’s discover how to enjoy food without eating mindlessly.
How to stop boredom eating
We all work a bit differently but you’ll probably recognize one or more of the following patterns when it comes to your own unhelpful eating habits.
1. Look for emotional triggers
This might be the single most common reason why people eat out of boredom. As stated above, we sometimes lack a feeling of excitement, purpose, or even connection.
The first part of solving this is actually being with the situation and recognizing how boredom feels, the dissatisfaction that comes when we can’t engage with ourselves or our environment.
You may find that you’re not bored but actually stressed, irritated or nervous — either way, you’re dealing with discomfort.
This tense feeling needs to be released somehow by getting some form of a dopamine rush. Since there’s an emotional reason for boredom, and not so much physical hunger (because you would know what to do then and get going), eating something is not the answer.
Good solutions would be to engage with your environment, connect with a friend, talk to someone or take a break and lie down if possible.
2. Recognize and change habits
Human beings are habitual creatures. This can be used to both our advantage and disadvantage! Either way, the first step is to recognize our habits so we can stop living our lives on autopilot.
One way to do this is by pausing every time you want to start eating and ask yourself if you’re really hungry.
Check for cues such as rumbling stomach, feeling dizzy or even weak. If you fall into that category, great! If not, go back to step 1 and check for emotional triggers.
Another easy way to stop snacking on foods that are not good for you is to simply not buy them, meaning not having them lying around somewhere so you can grab and snack on them.
When you’re out and about, pack some snacks so you aren’t tempted by vending machines. Also, put the snacks out of your sight, even having to get up and leaving the room will decrease the likelihood of you snacking.
Ask yourself whether you are procrastinating, maybe even out of fear you won’t be successful, and using food as a way to distract yourself and be busy.
The best way to evaluate your behavior and patterns is by keeping a food diary and writing down everything you eat: portions, time, and situation. This can be a great tool in helping to review your actions, to see if you’re eating because you’re stressed or as a coping mechanism.
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3. Make sure you eat enough
This is especially important if you are eating a primarily whole food plant-based diet. The calorie density of foods like vegetables, fruits, and starches, is pretty low and you need to get used to bigger portions in order to meet your caloric needs for the day!
A good way of evaluating the situation is by plugging what you’re eating into tools like cronometer and check to see if you’ve hit at least 1800-2400 calories (depending on your weight, height, gender and activity).
If you’re not getting enough food throughout the day, you feel the constant need for snacking!
As a second step, make sure to drink enough water. It’s easy to confuse hunger with thirst, so get this possibility out of the way by drinking around 2 liters of water daily.
4. Slow down & evaluate
Slowing down while eating gives your brain the time to tell your body that you’ve had enough food — this may take around 20 minutes. Plus, if you savor your food, you feel a lot more satisfied!
Especially during stressful times, we sometimes forget to eat regularly and start skipping meals.
This can be a huge downfall because it leads us right down the road of cravings and wanting to stuff our faces with high-calorie food later in the day, making it almost impossible to resist.
Chart your hunger on a scale from 1 to 10 and check-in with yourself every 2-3 hours. This helps you recognize low blood sugar or feeling hungry before you’re completely famished!
When hunger is starting to get above 6 or 7, then eat something – preferably filling, fiberous foods like fruits, veggies, beans, nuts or whole grains. They are rich in nutrients and water, which will keep you satisfied and energetic for a long time.
5. Plan your meals
Eating regularly is much easier if you plan your meals and snacks ahead of time! Better yet if you get into meal prep so you always have healthy and delicious food on hand.
This helps you to be more structured around food and find out what kind of eating type you are — do you prefer more and smaller meals throughout the day or do you want to eat until full during three large meals?
Check out our resources below for more tips.
6. Stay occupied & follow your passion
Finally, we should start looking into why we’re bored in the first place. Maybe we have jobs that are unfulfilling and require us to perform very simple tasks.
Or it’s about time outside of work — do you have a fulfilling hobby that feeds your inner fire? Would you like to get one?
If you don’t know where to start, just go into a bookstore and browse different sections: gardening, traveling, music, photography, etc.
Start doing a lot of research on the topic that’s really interesting to you and practice whatever it is regularly. This will get you into a certain flow, like you’re losing track of the world and time by fully emerging yourself into something you love!
For a quick and fun activity, get out and walk through nature, try some exercising to release endorphins (the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals), dance around or participate in a team sport.
All of these things will teach you that there are many more exciting and fulfilling things than eating some food!
Have you been struggling with boredom eating and found our tips helpful? Let us know in the comments below and Pin this article here!