When you’ve got time on your hands, the fridge starts to look pretty attractive.
In fact, nearly all of my weight loss clients are racking their brains trying to work out how to stop snacking when they’re bored.
So how come the lure of the snack is so strong when there’s not much going on? It’s because as far as emotions go, boredom is the one most people want to avoid like the plague.
There’s a very interesting reason for this and in a moment, I’m going to reveal why.
What’s So Stressful About Boredom?
Well, for one thing its….er….boring.
With our ever-expanding technology, we have so many ways to keep ourselves busy; in the blink of an eye, we can shut out the rest of the world with our gadgets, games, apps and movie streaming devices.
On that note, it’s pretty obvious that most people would do anything to avoid having nothing to do.
But here’s the thing….
Without boredom, we can’t grow. It actually encourages us to get out of our comfort zone and reach for more. In fact, some of the most inspiring ideas come from boredom.
What you may not realize is that when you engage in boredom eating, this is a knee-jerk reaction to the unpleasant sensation, which if you’re not careful, can take you down the avoidance rabbit hole…and right into the arms of the doughnut.
Wherever You Go….Your Mind Goes With You
What’s really going on is that you’re not used to being with your mind, minus all the other distractions. So, when that happens, all that’s left is you and your own thoughts. For some people, that can be scary.
So much so that it triggers unhealthy behaviours that don’t do your waistline any favours.
I’ll tell you one thing though…you might be over-dramatizing the negative effects of boredom. If you think about it, there’s rarely a situation in life where you have absolutely ‘nothing’ to do.
Sure, there are plenty of things you could or should be doing that you don’t want to do…like the ironing, for example.
So…boredom is usually the result of having nothing appealing to do. Which means it’s, you, not your circumstances, that are responsible for your boredom.
That’s good news! Here’s why:
Food = Stimulation
What’s really happening here is that most of us want a little excitement in our day and that’s when food becomes a substitute for mental stimulation.
Boredom eating is really just another form of emotional eating, where we use food to fill a deeper need. Scratch beneath the surface and emotional eating is almost always there in some form or another.
So now that you know where it comes from…. how do you get rid of it?
Awareness is the first step.
What To Do When You’re Snacking Too Much
The next time you open the fridge or go to the pantry just for something to do, make the conscious choice to pay attention.
Before you reach for that calorie-laden snack, ask yourself: ‘Am I really hungry? Or could I wait until my next meal?’
Just bringing your behaviour into awareness can often be enough to stop you eating the unhealthy snack. Most often you’ll realise that it’s not actually hunger you’re looking to soothe, but something else.
Sometimes there’s a time of day when you’re more likely to succumb to boredom eating, for example around 3 in the afternoon.
If you notice this pattern emerging, try to break the cycle by finding something different to do during that time. For example, go for a walk or go to the gym.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Your Mind
Many people get swept up in the rush of life, never pausing to enjoy the moment. Our society rewards busy-ness and often we say ‘I’m so busy!’ as if it’s something to be proud of.
So when the quiet times come along, you don’t know what to do with yourself.
That’s why meditation is so beneficial. It forces you to quiet your mind and let go of the ‘to-do-list’ of the day, as well as helping you to become comfortable with just ‘being’ as opposed to ‘doing’.
Plus, getting to know your own mind helps you to evolve both mentally and creatively.
The next time you’re pondering the conundrum of how to stop eating when you’re bored, you can be sure that the solution is in your mind and awareness is the key. Be the gatekeeper of your mind and you’ll maintain a comfortable healthy weight for the rest of your life.