“I eat when I’m bored!” is one of the most common statements I hear from clients. Since I hear it so often, I have learned how commonplace it is for all of us to engage in emotional eating from boredom. It might even be our #1 eating self-sabotage!
Emotional eating = M&Ms
Have you ever found yourself eating when you are bored? Not hungry but just bored? For me, this often happens on airplanes. I’m not really hungry, I just think (or hope) that the time will pass faster if I help it along with some peanut M&Ms. Emotional eating out of boredom, if occasional, is no big deal. If it becomes an every afternoon habit, then we can classify it as eating self-sabotage!
What is Boredom?
What is boredom? There doesn’t seem to be one definition of boredom. Some say it’s the state of having nothing to do. Others say it’s a deficiency in self-regulation. Scientists seem to agree that it tends to be a mental state that is quite unpleasant and we look for all different kinds of stimulation to find relief. Enter food and emotional eating, the perfect relief!
When we look at boredom eating through the lens of eating psychology, we have to ask, what else is going on? What else is out of alignment? Are there areas of our life we need to examine?
Boredom = Blah
When I have clients who eat out of boredom, I notice they tend to feel a little unfulfilled, unsatisfied, a little empty, or a little blah about where they are in their life. They unwittingly steer themselves away from the pleasure and fulfillment which they are actually seeking. Then they eat out of boredom, which reinforces this feeling of unfulfillment. It doesn’t make much sense, but self-sabotage rarely makes sense! Self-sabotage occurs when our behavior interferes with our desires or goals. It’s usually short-term reward (like eating brownies) at the expense of our long-term goals (like getting healthier).
Fix boredom eating
How do we fix this? First we must recognize what we are doing. Bringing our habits out into the light is really important. Recognizing what we are doing is about 90% of the fix. Once we acknowledge what we are doing, we can decide how we want to proceed. Just knowing that eating out of boredom will strengthen our connection to boredom is often a good incentive to make a change. Delving deeper to figure out what’s under this feeling of blah is the next level of repair. When faced with boredom eating, we have the option to say “no” to ourselves. This comes as a surprise to many of us and is often quite powerful. It guides us out of the sense of helplessness which led us towards the boredom eating in the first place.
Is this your issue?
Do you ever eat out of boredom? Can you figure out why you are feeling bored? Do you see how your bored eating keeps you from your ultimate goal of feel more engaged or more excited? If you want more help in this area, sign up for my email list and receive my free 3-lesson email course to dig a little deeper!