Eating will not put an end to your boredom.
Eating out of boredom is, well, boring.
Picking up a snack-size bag of chips in the breakroom or mindlessly standing in front of your refrigerator looking at the same package of cheese, olives, and leftovers from last night will not give you the pick-me-up you’re looking for.
Even if you happen upon that forgotten bag of cookies in the bag of your pantry and decide to eat the whole thing in record time, you still won’t feel satisfied.
Do you know why? You’re trying to satiate an emotion with something that can’t fulfill feelings–food.
Still, many of us continue to equate food with fun, joy, or entertainment. Poor food. It can’t fulfill all our emotional needs even when we expect it to! Then, we get mad at food. Or, worse yet, we get angry with ourselves for entrusting our emotions to food.
If you’ve ever eaten because you’re bored, this article is for you! Learn how to stop overeating when bored.
How to Stop Overeating When Bored
We all know what boredom feels like–we’re sitting at work in between tasks, and suddenly an awareness falls upon us: we’d rather be outside enjoying the freedom that weekends and vacations provide.
We compare the dullness of the present to our daydreams of fun–the fun we would be having if we were “out there” with our friends and family. The stronger the comparison, the more vivid your imagination, the wider the gap between reality and your desire.
That’s when it happens! The moment between realizing you’re bored and getting lost in your daydreams of fun. Between those two moments is boredom eating.
You walk confidently to the snack cabinet or vending machine at work, pick up that package of chocolate candy, rip it open, and wait for your happiness to return.
By the time you finish eating the whole bag of chocolate, it hits you. Eating this chocolate didn’t help you achieve your weekend feelings of freedom last time, and it didn’t help this time either.
Rather than repeating this cycle of eating when you’re bored, let’s call it what it is: insanity. Do you think that’s too harsh? According to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over, expecting a different result. We aren’t insane. We’re just not taking the time to think it all through.
Let’s take that time now!
How To Stop Boredom Eating At Work
Now that we know boredom eating won’t make you feel like you’re sitting next to a pool laughing with your friends, and we know it won’t inject our emotions with frenzied happiness, let’s get real. Here are some ideas you can implement today that will help you stop overeating when you’re bored.
1. Water Yourself
Are you wondering how to stop boredom eating at work? The next time you feel a pang in your stomach, ask yourself if you’re hungry or thirsty.
These two sensations can feel similar to one another. Chances are, if it’s mid-afternoon and you’ve already had a nutritious lunch, you’re not hungry. You’re just bored and maybe even thirsty. Be sure to have a water bottle handy or even a can of sparkling water.
2. Create Something
One way to stop overeating when you’re bored is to ask yourself, “Am I hungry or bored?”
If you answer with the latter, be prepared! Bring something to work with which you can briefly engage to stimulate your mind and distract you from thoughts of snacking. Adult coloring books, modeling clay, or a cross-stitch can activate your brain and give you a feeling of creative productivity–that’s the opposite of boredom!
The creation process can put your mind into deep focus, the feeling of focus and being in-flow provides the satisfaction which goes far beyond what a piece of chocolate can bring.
If you don’t work in an environment where you can create something, try writing an email or creating a slide. As soon as it’s something that can bring you focus and the pleasure of thinking, it can take the boredom away.
Or you can watch a TED Talk or listen to a podcast to get you thinking new thoughts. Creating new positive thoughts can bring the same pleasure of creation.
3. Bring Delicious Options
You don’t have to let your stomach boss you around. You don’t have to let it tell you how calm you would feel if you grabbed a donut. If your stomach starts growling, and you discern you are hungry, eat something.
This is where being prepared will help you stave off emotionally-driven cravings. Having healthy foods that you love on hand will satiate your hunger better than empty calories will.
4. Remind Yourself That You’re in Control
The best way to stop boredom eating at work is to speak the truth. You’re not hungry; you’re bored. Eating snacks when you’re bored won’t allay your boredom. In fact, it tends to add frustration to your boredom later.
5. Stop Judging Yourself
If you do boredom eat, don’t beat yourself up about it. This can create an unhealthy relationship with food. Your body knows what it needs, and it’s important to learn how to trust its natural instincts. Judging yourself harshly for over-consuming extra calories isn’t going to help you build a positive relationship with food.
“Will eating that cupcake turn boredom into fun?”
“The last time I ate a bag of chips to stop my boredom, did it work?”
“Will eating a bowl of ice cream lead me to feeling the freedom I feel when I’m headed out for a walk with my friends?”
Disrupting a repetitive behavior like overeating when you’re bored by asking questions brings you into a space of mindful reflection instead of mindless eating. Remember, you’re in control.
You’re In Control Of Overeating When You’re Bored
The definition of bored is the state of feeling disinterested in one’s surroundings, having nothing to do, or feeling that life is dull.
If this is how you truly feel, do you believe eating a cookie will help change your state of mind?
Learning how to stop overeating when bored begins when you become aware that food cannot satiate any mental or emotional state.
You’re in control!
Leslie Chen at Rise Lean helps people learn how to stop emotional eating forever. Build a healthy relationship with food, and lose weight by changing how you think about food. The journey is stress-free and clients put in >10% of the effort as their dieting friends while achieving better results. Fill out an application to book a call.
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