What do you usually eat? Is it boredom eating? Are you really hungry or do you eat out of habit? When you are depressed do you eat? I have previously written a post about comfort eating which you may also find helpful which can be found here.
What is boredom eating?
It is so easy to eat out of habit I find and I am sure I am not alone. How often do we think “what can I do?…..what is there I can eat?”. Even if it is not mealtime and we are not hungry!
Once we have got into this habit I believe that it is very difficult but certainly not impossible. We can teach ourselves otherwise and to learn new habits or healthier ways to fulfil that habit.
I think as parents we need to show our children how to have the right relationship with food from a young age. Show them by example how you only eat when you are hungry. It isn’t always easy but you can teach yourself in time.
Over the last 48 hours have a think about what you have eaten and when. How much of what you ate was planned? Was much of it at a mealtime?
Addressing boredom eating
If you are anything like me you’re a bit of a grazer and nibble on things constantly out of habit, boredom and stress! I think in order to prevent this from stopping us from losing weight we need to look at it in two ways.
Firstly changing what we snack on, and choosing low-calorie or low syn snacks. Secondly, try to minimise the amount we snack. Everyone, of course, is different but I think we need to be honest with ourselves. Starting with finding something that works for us to address boredom eating.
There is no reason that you can’t snack on healthy foods such as fruits throughout the day and still lose weight. There is no reason that by doing this the weight won’t stay off but I still feel it is an issue that should be addressed.
Not necessarily to completely stop the snacking but to be more aware of when we are snacking and why. The reason I think this is that it is the snacking habits (all be it on unhealthy foods) that could well have caused you to gain weight and without addressing this it is a habit you can soon go back to.
Distractions from boredom eating
In my experience, in order to distract ourselves from eating unnecessarily, we need to find something that occupies both our hands and our minds. Just going on Facebook, for example, doesn’t quite keep me occupied enough. It isn’t focussed enough whereas reading a book does as I get engrossed in what I am reading.
I have compiled a list of suggestions of things I have found helpful or others I know have found helpful in combatting that habit of eating when we do not need to eat. I hope some of you will find them helpful. Please let me know if you or your family find any helpful. Do comment on this post with any other things you do as they may help someone else.
How to stop it now!
Have a list of alternatives on the fridge or the cupboard you normally go to for unhealthy snacks. Ben has a list on the fridge of food he is allowed in between meals without asking. This helps I think as it means that food between meals isn’t banned as we all know that if we can’t have something we want it more! It merely offers alternative ideas. Ben’s list is fruit, raw mushrooms and pickled onions! Random I know but he likes them all as easy snacks!
There seems to be a big market currently for adult colouring books with even the pound shops selling them I have noticed. Some friends have used these well as ways to keep them busy. I have bought one and keep meaning to use it but forgetting so I can’t comment from my own experience!
Knitting, sewing, crochet and other crafty things can help. I am not a particularly crafty person though I do like to sew sometimes and when I do it really does occupy my time and before I know it I have spent hours stitching something or another be it by hand or on a machine. Crafts are good for keeping us busy as they occupy our hands, minds and are great for kids to do too!
Paint your nails – It is practically impossible to eat whilst painting your nails and for a short time afterwards while they dry! Boredom eating is often because you feel pretty rubbish. Spend more time on self-care and this is more likely.
Play with children, lego etc – I find when I am playing something with Ben (rather than watching him play computer games!) it keeps me busy, especially lego as even as an adult there are so many things you can build and before you know it hours have passed and then to avoid injury the tidying up of lego is also time-consuming!
Phone a friend
When you are chatting on the phone how often do you eat too? I very rarely do because I am busy talking! When you call someone you have not spoken to in a while this can pass a lot of time too, well it does for me! Whenever I phone one of my oldest friends I am rarely less than an hour on the phone!!
Yes, I know you are laughing at me now thinking I have lost the plot but think about it when was the last time you felt hungry whilst cleaning the bathroom? If you start tidying a child’s bedroom the chances of you getting out of there within 30 minutes are slim aren’t they! Of course the messier the job the less likely you are to want to eat whilst doing it! It may sound crazy but it is worth a thought!
I don’t often get around to reading a good book but when I do I find I just can’t put it down so wouldn’t dream of stopping to find a snack!
I do not do this as much as I used to but I enjoy writing a letter to keep me busy. I write to friends, family, and sometimes also to seriously ill children, their siblings and bereaved youngsters through a charity called Postpals. It is worth a look if you think you would enjoy writing a letter but do not have anyone you want to write to. The Postpals website can be found here and the children appreciate letters of all lengths it is really rewarding. Instead of eating chocolate and piling on the pounds, you could make a poorly child smile!
Have a drink – ideally non-alcoholic as we all know that drinking alcohol tends to encourage us to eat the worst foods! I find sometimes I think I am hungry when I am in fact thirsty, I am terrible for forgetting to drink, I never forget to eat!!
Hot drinks tend to keep me from eating as I sit holding the drink whilst watching TV or online etc. By the time I have drunk it I have forgotten I was wanting to pick at food as I wasn’t actually hungry! I particularly love warm Ribena (the winter spice one) and flavoured coffees that are syn free such as the Beanies coffee.
Meal Planning – this can go either way I find, it can keep you from eating because you are thinking about food and busy or it can make you feel even more hungry! Worth a thought and if it works for you great!
Sort your wardrobe
Not only does this remind you why you want to lose weight or show you how far you have come. It also keeps you busy for longer than you initially intended as if you are anything like me you get carried away trying clothes. Sorting things out for a charity bag is good too. Or even colour coding tops (yes I am actually that sad and sometimes do this!). If you want to sell them on eBay check this post out.
Do some exercise – whether that be going for a little walk or doing a workout at the gym. There are so many exercises you could do. Even gardening burns calories.
I am never hungry when my mind is elsewhere. Browsing the shops buying things I don’t need, clothes shopping. There is nothing like trying on a gorgeous dress that fits perfectly to stop you from nipping in the bakery next door for cake! Don’t go blaming me when your bank balance looks dire though!
Have a bath
Relax, think things through if you are stressed, enjoy a long soak, add candles etc and make it feel nice. Think about it, you cant eat while you are in the bath and it is often the furthest room in the house from the kitchen!
I find this can help because you are busy and at least if you do feel like snacking. It is much more likely that you will grab a carrot stick or some raw pepper than chocolate. The reality is that you are much more likely to overeat on chocolate than raw pepper. When was the last time you sat and ate a huge bowl full of pepper whilst watching TV or preparing a meal? A bag of chocolate or a share size bag of crisps, on the other hand, disappears rather quickly!
What else can you do?
So whilst I have suggested some ideas to keep you buys rather than eating they may not be good enough. Do remember that if you follow Slimming World, there are so many things you can eat and nothing is completely off-limits! Think about your life, and the life of those in your family, think about how you treat food and whether there are small changes you can introduce to help.
More you may find helpful
This selection of 50 creative hobbies to try at home from a fellow blogger may help you find a great alternative to boredom or comfort eating.
To read all my posts with tips and experiences of various diets, exercises and lots more check out my comprehensive Weight Loss section.
If you need more ideas then do check my post of 101 ideas of things you could do instead of boredom or comfort eating. Feel free to share this post with friends too and help them. If you have other ideas to help with boredom eating please do comment below.
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