It happened AGAIN. A half of that bag of Pirate Booty ended up in her belly and she wasn’t even hungry. What started out as a beautifully executed day slowly started to unravel and she didn’t know why. What in the world was her problem? More importantly, how in the world was she going to stop eating for what seemed like no reason at all when she wasn’t hungry? Can you relate?
Listen. Even though you may feel like you are the only one, you are NOT alone. How do I know? Because the girl in that story is ME. I can remember wondering why I would randomly eat a half box of my husband’s granola. It would happen too soon after lunch to even convince myself that hunger was the issue. At other times, I would mindlessly munch on my son’s goldfish in the middle of the day for no reason that I could tell. It took me years to figure out that I was eating because I was BORED. But how can a working wife and mom be bored?
You don’t have to have tons of spare time on your hands to be bored. I know I didn’t. As a matter of fact, most of my days were jam packed with training, coaching, cooking, transporting my son, and a ton of other activities. So how in the world was I bored? Simple. I wasn’t doing enough of the things that I found entertaining or rewarding. So, instead I was eating- easy and accessible temporary entertainment.
Why We Do It
It took me FOREVER to figure out that this whole boredom eating thing had nothing to do with nutrition. And, that’s why changing my meal plan didn’t fix the problem. Although not getting the proper amount of protein, water, and veggies can lead to cravings and overeating, that wasn’t the case for me.
According to Psychology Today, psychologists currently believe that the chemical messenger, dopamine, is crucial to motivation and drive. This messenger which produces feeling of excitement and reward when it is released in the brain is very stimulating. When your dopamine levels are low, seeking pleasure is a natural response. In most cases, the most convenient and accessible dopamine booster is FOOD. So, when we aren’t getting enough excitement, we eat.
How I Beat Boredom Eating
I intentionally injected more fun into my day. And, I have to tell you that admitting that I needed more stuff just for me was half of the battle. Don’t get me wrong here. I enjoy my work. I get immense pleasure out of being a wife and mom. However, going through the motions of daily duties without adding in activities that I enjoy outside of work and family commitments was my main issue. So that’s what I needed to change.
I built time into my weekly schedule for a few hours of me time. This was time to do whatever I wanted- alone. Rather than working straight through lunch, I started making time to have a quick chat with a friend or catch a replay of a short TV show. Other days, I schedule time to roam through Target rather than do my usual 10-minute in and out visit to get exactly what I need. To be honest, the activity doesn’t matter as much as taking time to do something purely for personal enjoyment. I started to find that the more I scheduled personal fun, the less often I found myself staring in the fridge in search of something- anything to entertain me.
Strategy for When Prevention Isn’t Enough
For the times when the “preventative fun” doesn’t stave off that feeling of needing something and I find myself tempted to play peekaboo with the pantry items, I do something on my list of quick fun activities. This list includes less elaborate, and even some practical, activities that made me feel rewarded. As a matter of fact, one of my activities is taking 10 minutes to reorganize any area that drives me a little bananas on a daily basis.
Now, I am going to be honest and tell you that it took practice to change my automatic response of going for food. I still have to practice because the habit of going to food for entertainment is more established than my new habit. Habits are powerful and they aren’t changed without putting in some intentional, consistent work. But, it can be done if you are willing to give it a try and keep practicing.
You may be thinking that this sounds easier said than done. But, when you have a go to list of things that bring you satisfaction and reward, it is not so hard. If ever you find yourself staring into the fridge with no real purpose, grab your list. Pick an item and get busy.
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So now you know how I beat boredom eating and what you can do if you have that challenge too. What do you think of all of this? Sound off in the comments below.
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