If you’ve been finding yourself heading to the kitchen fridge or pantry only to be staring aimlessly waiting for a snack to pop out at you, you’re not alone. Eating out of boredom is very common. We’re sharing five ways to combat this type of eating habit to help you stick to your wellness goals and replace these habits with better ways to support your overall wellbeing.
1. Identify triggers: This is the first and probably the most important tool to use to rid boredom binging. Every time you head to the kitchen without consciously thinking or if you are searching the shelves for a snack to graze on, stop and write down what you were doing right before you did this. Had you just been working long hours and simply needing a break away from the computer? Is your mind not being stimulated enough, or perhaps too much? Once you have written several of your triggers down, you may be able to identify common themes. Once identified, it will be much easier to respond to in ways that will allow you to stay on track.
2. Give your hunger a rating: In the same notes as above, write a scale of 1-10 to indicate the level of hunger you’re feeling. For example; 1 – starving, 4 – peckish, 6 – craving salt, sugar or fat etc. and 10 – stuffed full! This simple trick can help you to identify true versus emotional hunger, or if it’s a certain mineral/vitamin your body is craving rather than an actual item of food. By committing to this written work, you will start to become more conscious of your eating habits.
3. Develop a food-alternative plan: Next up, have a plan that involves you replacing food with something else. For example, if your boredom snacking habits happen in the evening, you may need to go to bed earlier. If it happens around the 3pm slump, it may mean going for a walk around the block or calling a friend or relative for a chat, try meditating or listening to a podcast. Experiment with different activities to find what works for you. Again, write these down and reflect on how effective they were.
4. Ensure your meals are satisfying and healthy: When it comes to your main meals throughout the day, ensure you are eating a healthy balance of fresh fibre, protein, healthy fats and some carbs – all of which will ensure you feel satisfied for up to 4 hours. Cravings for sugary, fatty foods can set in when your main meals aren’t well balanced. Meal planning is also an essential part of good food awareness. By planning your meals, you are more in control and less likely to reach for those pre-packaged or processed snacks.
5. Cosy up with a cuppa: Not only can a warm cup of herbal tea bring a lot of comfort, but it’s also a great way to keep hydrated and fill your body with nutritious vitamins. Plus, since even a small about of dehydration can manifest as hunger, this will help you identify if you are hungry or just needing some fluids.
Changing your eating habits can be very challenging. So, if you have a slip up, don’t punish yourself, refer back to your notes and reflect on key learnings. Eating well and developing healthy eating habits can be a life-long journey, so be kind to yourself and celebrate your successes!