Boredom eating… most of us are doing this now more than ever. It can seem like a justified break in the day:
You’ve been staring at your computer screen for the past few hours, you have work you need to do…. but oh my gosh writing that report is SO. BORING! There must be something to do that is more exciting…. like heading to the fridge?
Have you been here recently? I get it. But let’s look at boredom eating more closely and see if we can find a better solution!
Boredom Eating: Why We Do it & How to Stop
First of all, how is a task defined as “boring”? Different things are boring to different people – some people find exercise boring, but for others, it could be the highlight of their day.
The key is how you THINK about the task.
If you have a report to write, you could think: “This is SO BORING! This is the worst.” Or you could think: “I’m building the skill of finishing reports quickly so I can get on with other exciting things I want to do today.”
Let’s dive into this a little more.
When we’re bored, we’re typically thinking thoughts that make us feel negatively. For example, the thought:
“this is boring” can make you feel annoyed
“this is awful” can make you feel frustrated
“this is so unnecessary” can make you feel anxious
Now as humans, we generally want to FEEL positively. Here are some emotions most of us generally want to feel:
that type of thing.
So what can you think, to make you feel these emotions? What would a person who was feeling these emotions be thinking? What about thoughts like:
“I can’t want to finish this task so I can do what I really WANT to be doing right now”
“How can I make this task more enjoyable?”
“Everyone has to do some tasks they don’t want to do in life, this is just one of those for me!”
What is boredom eating?
Ok so let’s turn the convo back to boredom eating.
Since we now know we want FEEL these positive emotions, it makes sense that when we’re bored, we want to feel instead a positive emotion – and we think that this positive emotion will come from food. For example:
The thought “This tastes so good” could make you feel happy
The thought “This is just what I need” could make you feel content
However – let’s challenge this.
When you do end up eating when you weren’t hungry, does the positive feeling from the food last? Likely not. You likely will get a lot of back & forth brain chatter about what happened. “I shouldn’t have done that.” “Ugh I’m so bad.” “Why can’t I have more self control?”
AND, what can often happen, is that we feel that we’ve “blown it” – and make poor eating choices the rest of the day.
The positive feeling from boredom eating is short lived, and often leaves you feeling worse.
What to do when you’re bored, instead of eating:
First of all, if you’re hungry, you should eat. But most of the time when we’re eating from boredom, we’re not actually hungry.
Ok so after you’ve determined that you’re not actually hungry, you need to redirect your thoughts.
As we discussed above, instead of thinking “This is so boring”, can you think something like: “I can’t want to finish this task so I can do what I really WANT to be doing right now”
Now, it’s also entirely normal and HEALTHY to give your brain a mental break from your work – our brains do absolutely need a break from constant focus.
A great thing to do, is to come up (ahead of time!) with a list of at least 10 things you can do to take your brain off of your work. Here are some examples:
Organize your bathroom products
Learn a new hairstyle
Listen to a podcast
Give yourself a pedicure or manicure
Update your LinkedIn profile
Take a bath
Clean up your desktop (is yours as messy as mine??)
Organize your dishes cabinet
Take out the trash
Do a load of laundry
Listen to an audiobook
Call your mom or a friend
Plan what you’re going to make for dinner
Scroll on Pinterest, Instagram, or TikTok
What other ideas do you have??
What to do if you HAVE eaten from boredom:
The absolute best thing you can do is get your thoughts in place. Instead of beating yourself up, CHOOSE to think something productive. Here are some ideas:
“What can I learn about this situation for next time?”
“Let me make a list of 10 things I can do that aren’t eating next time I’m bored but aren’t hungry”
“How can I get back on track with my eating right NOW?”
Remember, YOU are always in control of your choices and your actions. Which is empowering!
I absolutely believe in you – maybe the first few times choosing to do something else instead of eating when you’re bored & not hungry is hard, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. And then soon, it will be your
new habit to NOT eat out of boredom. I can’t wait to hear about your success!