If you want to learn how to stop yourself from eating when bored….and do it even if you are, a binge eater and lack willpower, then this article will show you how.
Quick question – When do most folks snack on foods even when they’re not hungry?
If you guessed weekends and nighttime, you’re right! These are the times when most of us are bored. And this goes to show that boredom and snacking go together.
The truth is most of us snack on junk food. And the calories from these snacks quickly add up and hinder weight loss, or even worse, cause weight gain. So you have to stop eating when bored if you want to stay lean and strong. Pick a few tips from the list below and apply them.
#1 Keep a food and mood journal
Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Well, this alone could be the answer to your ‘eating when bored’ problem.
Write down the time you snack, what you’re usually doing, your mood at that time and so on. Then do a weekly review on the journal. Soon you’ll identify habits that make you feel like you need to eat even when you’re not hungry. Now use this information to change your habits and avoid eating when bored.
#2 Reschedule your meals
The total number of calories you consume in a day determine weight loss. Not when you eat. So instead of beating yourself up for eating when bored, change your eating patterns.
If you like snacking 10pm, make adjustments in your meals to accumulate the 10pm snack. For instance, you could eat less food during dinner and leave space for the 10pm snack.
This can only work for folks with consistent snacking patterns. If you’re bored all the time this won’t work.
#3 Drink water
Water will help reduce your cravings for snacks. And studies show that increasing water intake, without making changes in your diet enhances weight loss.
Always drink a glass of water before you give in to your cravings. Whenever you crave cookies, doughnuts, or chips, drink a glass of water. This might be enough distraction to forget about snacking.
Research shows that people often confuse thirst for hunger. So drinking water will help you know if you’re hungry for sure. A cup of coffee or green tea is also a great alternative.
#4 Address the boredom problem
It’s natural to do things mindlessly when bored, making sure you don’t get bored is the best way to avoid eating.
Look into your habits and analyze when and why you bored. Your food and mood journal will come in handy here. Use the information in it to identify what makes you bored.
Then find new habits that will keep you occupied. Things like cleaning the house, practicing the handstand, dancing, walking a dog and so on can keep your mind off food.
Note that many people interpret stress as boredom. Stress causes the feeling of being bored and lack of interest in anything. If you experience feelings of anger, depression and sadness, seek help from a professional.
#5 Think before you eat
Mindless eating is one of the main reasons folks binge and overeat. You’ll have more control over what and when you eat if you’re more aware. If you find yourself going to the fridge for snacks when bored, shift your focus and find something else to keep you occupied.
Another strategy that will work is to treat everything you eat as a meal (even snacks). Instead of munching on crisps while on the couch watching TV, put them in a plate, sit at the dining table and enjoy them. Doing this will increase your mindfulness and reduce chances of overindulging.
This is by far the most important tip in this article. Because if you’re not aware you won’t be able to apply any of the other tips.
#6 Don’t keep junk food in the house
Most folks crave junk food when they’re bored. So get rid of all the junk in the house. And make sure you don’t buy junk when shopping for groceries. If you have to buy chocolate, don’t buy a box, just buy one bar to satisfy your cravings at that time.
Replace junk food with healthy snacks like strawberries, apples, carrot sticks and so on.
This is one of those situations where procrastination is a good thing. If you’re craving ice cream, wait for 10 minutes before you reach for it. During that period find something to keep your mind off the cravings.
By the time the 10 minutes are over the cravings will probably be gone. Feel free to wait for another 5 minutes before you eat the snack.
#8 No food in the bedroom
The bedroom is a place for sleep and sex. It’s not a good environment for mindful eating. Eat all your meals at the dining table where you can practice mindful eating.
#9 Eat nutrient dense foods.
Eating nutrient dense foods reduces the desire for snacks. Healthy unprocessed energize the body and the brain which reduces chances of giving in to cravings. These foods are also filling so you won’t feel hungry all the time.
Eating processed foods on the other hand, will spike insulin and increase sugar cravings.
#10 Identify trigger habits
Use the information in the food and mood journal to find identify what makes you snack. Maybe it’s the habits that you engage in when bored that cause you to snack.
Most folks snack when watching TV. Replacing these habits with more interesting and fun habits will stop you from eating when bored.
#11 Learn to identify real hunger
Most people can’t tell when they are hungry. And this usually leads to overeating. On average, real hunger starts to kick in 3 hours after eating – this may vary depending on level of activity. If you start craving snacks an hour after eating, drink a glass of water and you should be fine.
Other indicators of hunger are stomach rumblings, feeling weak, and headaches. You can also place your fist on the stomach and feel if it’s full.
#12 Chew gum
If you know that you’re physically full but still feel like eating, chew gum. This will distract your mind from food.
If chewing gum doesn’t work, try brushing your teeth – it’ll leave a minty taste in your mouth and reduce your cravings.
#13 Do strength training
Strength training builds mental strength and disciple. Pushing through the last few reps of an exercise will build mental strength which you can apply in other aspects of life, like denying your cravings.
Exercise can also be a good distraction whenever you feel bored. It’ll keep your mind off food and remind you why you want to get in shape.
#14 Sleep early
Most of the snacking happens late at night. We spend the day eating healthy only to sabotage our efforts before we go to bed.
You can easily avoid this by going to bed early. If you usually snack at 11pm, start sleeping at 10pm. Sleeping early will actually it easier for you to wake up early for your morning workout.
#15 Seek for support
Talk to your partner or friend about your eating habits. Confiding to someone who’s understanding and supportive will make a huge difference.
You can also talk to an eating disorder expert.