Tips to overcome “Boredom” Eating Most people can relate to feelings of boredom. Boredom is normal and a healthy emotion that can motivate and drive us toward productive endeavors and careers. Unfortunately, if not channeled in a positive direction, boredom can lead to the development of many unhealthy behaviors, and over eating is one of them that has devastating health consequences. Relying on food to relieve boredom actually changes your brain chemistry. In a post written in Psychology today they go on to explain that problems occur when we over-rely on immediate basic pleasures to relieve boredom —eventually such habits can change your brain’s capacity to experience pleasure from anything else. Boredom may single handedly be the number one trigger for weight management sabotage. Scientists seem to agree that boredom tends to be a mental state that is quite unpleasant and we look for all different kinds of stimulation to find relief. Eating is one way we alleviate that unpleasant feeling. In an article posted in Scientific American, a neuroscientist by the name of James Danckert, at the University of Waterloo in Canada, stated that: “There is no universally accepted definition of boredom. But whatever it is, researchers argue, it is not simply another name for depression or apathy. It seems to be a specific mental state that people find unpleasant—a lack of stimulation that leaves them craving relief, with a host of behavioral, medical and social consequences”. The good news is that there are ways to overcome boredom. Healthy alternatives to brain stimulation exist. We simply have to be creative and keep the brain guessing. Ways to overcome boredom:
- Dump the junk. Food that is high in sugar, fat, and salt, should be eaten only minimally, and certainly not eaten when you are bored or feeling bad. –this is where you alter your brain chemistry.
- Make an activity box. You should experience pleasure from a variety of experiences in life. Pleasure should not only come from food. Remember it is an over-reliance on one thing that paints us into a pleasure corner. Make a list of things you enjoy doing. For example, going for a stroll with a neighbor, watching a favorite documentary, making candles, listening to an interesting pod case. Write these down on bits of paper and put them in a jar. When you start to feel that boredom “itch”, pull out a slip a paper and get to it. Adding other enjoyable activities in your life reduces your risk of using food as your “go to” boredom cure.
- Replace bad habits- Figure out which times of the day you are most likely to eat out of boredom and come up with other things you can do at these times instead of eating. If you find yourself about to eat something outside of mealtimes, consider whether you are truly hungry, and, if not, try doing another activity instead of eating.
- Mix things up- Human beings crave stimulation. There is nothing that kills motivation more than a monotonous routine. Change things up! Try a new exercise activity, listen, to a different kind of music, try out a new recipe that has an ingredient you never have had before, take a different route to work. Be creative!
- Check in with yourself- Ask yourself questions like When was the last time I ate? or Am I really hungry? http://diet.mayoclinic.org/diet/eat/hunger-versus-craving?xid=nl_MayoClinicDiet_20150706