Have you ever found yourself with an open bag of chips, nuts, candy, etc. sitting next to you while you are watching tv, reading or whatever? Have you noticed that all of a sudden half of the bag is gone and you didn’t really even taste the food? That is called boredom eating. I’ve done it and I watch my family do it. Now I’m making a conscious effort to NOT do it. I’m not hungry. I’m bored! I need to do something with my hands. I need some sort of stimulation other than concentrating on what I’m doing. Many studies have shown that people can’t tolerate even 15 minutes of monotony. Only 15 minutes!!! But then I think of myself, working at home (or even when I worked in a “real” office). I can only sit still for a few minutes and then I have to get up and do something. Whether it is get the mail, switch laundry, make lunch, get a snack….yep, there it is….boredom eating. I’m not always hungry! Gah!
So what are some ways that you can stop yourself…and I can stop myself….from boredom eating? Here’s the top 5 ways! Try them out and see if they work for you!
- Chew gum or even eat a tic tac mint. This will give you a little of the stimulation of eating and flavor without eating that whole bag of veggie sticks, Doritos, etc.
- Drink a glass of water. Flavor it with lemon, strawberries, cucumber, almost anything you can dream of! Even just plain water! It will also give your hands something to reach for, your taste buds will be stimulated and, again, not eating a whole bag or big ol’ bowl of whatever.
- Instead of sitting and doing something, get up and go for a walk! Take your phone/ipod/device, download some music, podcast or audio book and hit the sidewalk. My latest addiction is podcasts and I find I walk longer if I’m listening to one. (yes, I’ve been living under a rock for the past decade because I just started listening to podcasts in the last 5 months).
- If your favorite show is on but you know you’re going to be tempted to eat while watching it, move yourself to the floor and do some light stretching or floor exercises and still get to enjoy the show!
- IF you are truly hungry, do NOT bring a huge bowl or entire bag of whatever you are going to eat with you to sit on the computer, watch tv, read or whatever you are going to do. Grab a small bowl and put the size serving you are comfortable with that will make you full. And while you are doing whatever activity, try to also think of the food you are eating.
Have the mind-food connection and TASTE it instead of mindlessly putting it in your mouth. Food is meant to be enjoyed and nourish your body, not just give your jaw a workout...not many calories are burned doing that! Mindless eating deprives you of that connection.
Here are some of my favorite snacks to eat IF I'm truly hungry:
- Grapes (or really any small bowl of fresh fruit, especially berries)
- Almonds, cashews, seeds
- Apple with peanut butter (individual cup makes this easy peasy!)
- Veggie chips
- Triscuits with small pieces of cheese
Just remember to make up your portion, put it in a bowl or on a plate and enjoy what you are eating. Pay attention. Don't mindlessly eat the snack while watching the tube!