4 Steps to End Eating When Bored
So you’re bored and there’s nothing to do. Thoughts of baking cookies, diving into a bag of popcorn or making a run to a fast food restaurant fill your head. Eating when bored is a popular activity because IT WORKS! It gives you something to do…but only while you are chewing. To help you break this bad habit let me start by asking you two questions:
Think about newborn babies.
How do you know if a baby is hungry?
How do you know if a baby is full?
Babies cannot tell us they are hungry. They can’t walk to the refrigerator themselves and so they signal to us that they are hungry (which to them is an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach) by crying.
Babies cannot tell us they are full so how do we know to stop feeding them? They fall asleep or push the bottle or nipple away, right?
In short, babies don’t eat when they are bored but adults do. So what changed?
As we grow, we quickly learn food is much more than just nourishment for us when we feel hungry.
For example, we are taught food is comfort.
You feel down and skinned your knee. Here’s a popsicle.
Food is a reward.
You made good grades so let’s go out for ice cream.
Food is love.
I love you so I made your favorite brownies.
No wonder we think of eating as something to do when we are bored!
To break this unhealthy habit, step one is pause before you eat/drink and ask yourself if you are physically hungry or do you want to eat for another reason.
This is the number 1 best habit you could establish for yourself. It is a game changer. Trust me!
Put sticky notes anywhere you have food or where you eat because you’ll need a reminder to remember to ask yourself:
AM I HUNGRY?
And when you ask it enough, it will become second nature.
Sometimes you may be unsure if you are hungry. If you are on the fence – guess what?
Hunger always starts in the stomach. Therefore, an empty stomach feeling is the most popular first sign of hunger and that’s followed by a stomach growl.
Here’s a tip:
If you choose to eat whenever you are not hungry, you are giving your body calories it has not asked for and does not need. What do you suppose the body will do with these extra calories? You guessed it. The body converts excess calories to fat and stores them on your hips, thighs or wherever you store excess fat. Some of my clients use that visual when they are tempted and it motivates them to make the healthy choice. Try it next time and see if it works for you.
Look at when you are typically bored and tempted. Do you see a certain time of day? Day of week? Event? My client Cindy had partial custody of her children. Every other Sunday she was alone and she found herself getting bored every Sunday and turning to food to fill the void. This was because she was alone and bored. When she was with her children she didn’t get bored. To fix this, we changed Cindy’s routine up so that every Sunday afternoon she went to the grocery store. So giving her an activity was all she needed to not think about eating. Likewise, do you need to change up your routine?
Now, grab a piece of paper for this next tip.
Write down 10 activities that you could do next time you are bored and tempted to eat. I do this with my clients and what we learned together was that there is always something productive we could do. Things like
Clean out the car
Vacuum the house
Clean out the garage
But reality is when we are bored we are rarely motivated to do something productive. And that’s OK.
Why not think about some fun things you could when bored? Things like
Go get a pedicure
Start a new Netflix series
Watch YouTube videos on “how to” do something of interest
Write down 5 productive activities you could do and 5 fun activities. Then next time you are bored, refer to this list and make your choice.
In summation, here are the steps I’ve just covered to end eating when bored.
Step 1: Catch yourself BEFORE you eat. Stop eating on auto-pilot.
Step 2: Ask yourself if you are physically hungry. If not,
Step 3: Find an alternative activity – either a fun one or a productive one.
Step 4: Repeat, repeat, repeat until it becomes a habit.
Nothing good happens if you give in to that little voice in your head that says “I shouldn’t eat this.” Use these steps and take control of your eating.
If you find you are triggered to eat when you feel certain feelings or emotions you are not alone! I have two online courses that help people overcome these urges and feel better about themselves.
You can start with my FREE 5 day challenge to end emotional eating. Click here to sign up!
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