One of the most common reasons for snacking is boredom.
If you’re hanging around without much to do – perhaps a slow day at work, or looking after kids – then it’s very easy to turn to food as a quick moment of interest.
You may convince yourself that you’re “peckish” or “hungry” every few hours, so that you have an excuse to eat. You may be going through a situation where, in some ways, food is the most interesting thing in your life – where your thoughts are constantly turning to the next snack or meal.
The problem is, if you’re trying to lose weight, “boredom eating” can derail all your efforts. Here’s how to avoid it.
1. Recognize Real Hunger Symptoms
Many of us have lost touch with our hunger signals, because we eat too much and too often. You certainly shouldn’t be feeling ravenous when you’re on a diet – but you should feel ready for your next meal.
What does real hunger feel like, instead of phantom boredom-hunger? Your stomach will feel empty, and may rumble lightly. You’ll probably have gone a few hours without eating. You’ll feel like you have a good appetite.
2. Spot Your Snacking Pitfalls
Perhaps you always end up getting a giant cookie at 9am, after you’ve dropped the kids off a school. Maybe you can’t resist a bar of chocolate mid-afternoon, because you’re tired and need the sugar-rush.
Once you’ve started spotting patterns, it’s easy to break them. Eat a healthy breakfast so you don’t end up ravenous at 9am. Have plenty of wholegrains and proteins at lunch to keep your energy levels up all afternoon.
3. Keep Yourself Busy
I’ve noticed that on days when I’ve not got much to do and I’m hanging around the house, I’ll end up snacking mid-morning and mid-afternoon … whereas if I’m out and about, I’ll not think about food at all. Is it the same for you?
If you’re finding yourself bored a lot of the time, a chocolate bar or a bag of chips isn’t going to hold the solution. Can you take up a new hobby – one which occupies your hands, so you can’t eat at the same time?
4. Get Some Exercise
One of the best cures for boredom-snacking is to get out for a walk or cycle ride. When you’re away from the fridge, cravings disappear miraculously – plus you’ll be getting some great exercise too, and burning extra calories.
Exercise can also help regulate your eating patterns: you’ll find yourself building up a genuine appetite for meals, rather than picking at your food and snacking constantly.
If you have cookies, chocolate and chips in the kitchen, there’s a good chance you’ll end up digging into them when you’re bored and feeling a bit low.
Why make life harder for yourself? Instead of relying on willpower to keep you away from junk food, just keep the junk food away from you. If you’ve got to head to the store to get your chocolate fix, you’ll think twice – and probably not bother.
If you do have diet-unfriendly foods in the house, keep them out of reach and out of site. A tin of cookies on the top of a cupboard where you can’t reach it is much less tempting than a jar on the kitchen table!
Do you end up snacking out of boredom? What tips could you use to change your habits?