We’ve all come up with excuses for eating when we’re really not hungry, like dealing with a difficult boss or a bad breakup. But what’s worse is pigging out because you’ve got nothing better to do.
Sure, eating when you’re bored can light up the pleasure center in your brain, giving you a temporary high. But, it can also add some unwanted — even permanent — pounds on the scale.
What’s the cure for boredom eating? Rachel Begun, a Los Angeles-area registered dietitian and nutrition consultant, suggests you practice mindful eating instead of mindless eating.
That means knowing your body’s cues for real hunger. So before you raid the kitchen for a quick fix, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?”
Know the true signs of hunger:
- a growling stomach.
- a headache.
- lack of energy.
To stop food temptations, give your pantry a makeover, and get rid of unhealthy packaged foods. Eating salty, fatty or sugary treats when you’re bored can train your brain to want them every time you’re bored.
Next, devise a plan B for boredom. Make a list of activities you can do to keep your mind off food and your hands out of the fridge. Take a walk, call a friend or watch a movie. Crossword puzzles and knitting are two activities that can keep your hands busy, too.
Also, make changes to your everyday routine to keep from getting bored. Take a different route on your daily jog or eat outside on a warm evening. After all, variety is the spice of life.
For more tips on how to practice mindful eating, visit Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.