How to Stop Boredom Eating

Welcome to The Balanced Dietitian Podcast! I am so happy you are here with me this week. 

How many times have you found yourself sitting on the couch, watching TV with a bag of chips and the next thing you know they’re all gone? Does the term boredom eating mean anything to you? The first thing you need to know is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with boredom eating but on today’s episode I want to talk about how we can begin to relate to it differently, understand it better, and maybe choose to do something different when those feelings arise.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • [01:43] Boredom is the most common way people engage in emotional eating
  • [03:17] Is boredom eating bad?
  • [05:23] Under eating can lead to emotional eating
  • [08:15] Common reasons why we may eat out of boredom 
  • [10:57] Adding intention to eating 

[01:43] Boredom is the most common way people engage in emotional eating 

Did you know that boredom eating is the most common way that people engage in emotional eating? Boredom eating is actually a type of emotional eating. It’s when we are eating to meet the emotional need that has nothing to do with our physical hunger, and that is what boredom eating is, right?

For a lot of us who are used to being distracted all of the time, and with social media, our busy jobs, and the lifestyles we’re living, we’re not comfortable with being bored or doing nothing. When boredom sets in, food can actually feel very productive.

[03:17] Is boredom eating bad?

So the first questions I’d like for us to ask ourselves is, is boredom eating bad? Is it something I should try to avoid doing? How does boredom eating show up in your life right now? Is it something that creates a lot of distress? Is it something that we are not liking? The answers to these questions may be different for everyone.

For many of us living in diet culture, I think there’s a lot of messages around boredom, eating, being bad, and often we’re told that food is used to fuel our bodies and that is it’s only purpose. This messaging can make us feel very uncomfortable when we realize that it actually meets other roles in your life.

At the end of the day, we want our relationship with food to be empowering, and sometimes that is when we’re emotionally eating, and sometimes it’s not. We’re not bad people because we eat out of boredom, right? We’re all humans. Food is delicious, so how do we shift our relationship with boredom eating and approach it from a point of curiosity instead of judgment?

[05:23] Undereating can lead to emotional eating

The first and most important thing that you need to do when looking at your habits and boredom eating is asking yourself, am I eating enough throughout the day? If you are chronically under eating you’re a lot more likely to eat emotionally. You’re a lot more likely to overeat. You’re a lot more likely to have cravings. Add together the fact that you are hungry and bored and it’s a match made in heaven. Our body is searching for the nourishment that it needs on top of the emotional needs we have. 

So how do we check into our bodies to better understand what it needs? Now we can start to explore the relationship that we have with boredom and the needs that we’re trying to meet when we are eating out of boredom.

[08:15] Common reasons why we may eat out of boredom 

Once we start to acknowledge our boredom eating we can start to look for trends and patterns. Ask yourself, “Am I always bored eating when I’m waiting for someone?” “Am I bored eating at a consistant time every day?” “Are there any trends that I can identify behind my boredom eating?” If you can answer these questions you can start to identify why you feel the need to eat during these specific moments and begin to come up with alternate behaviours that you can start implementing when you feel boredom eating.

As a registered dietitian, one of the most important things I want all my clients to remember when we talk about changing behaviors around food is that we want to make sure that we’re not going at it from a restrictive place.

I can always have the food. I can always have whatever I want, but what if I tried to do this other activity first to try to achieve the feeling I was looking to get from eating? 

I know that part was very important for me when I was healing my relationship with food because as soon as I felt restricted or as soon as I felt like food was taken away from me, I reacted negatively. 

[10:57] Adding intention to eating 

Something that many of my clients will say about boredom eating is that it happens almost automatically or that it feels like they are on autopilot when they are eating out of boredom. 

I am allowed to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, but what if I wanted to make sure that my decisions were intentional? What if before making those decisions, I could do some check-ins to make sure that that’s what I wanted?

By making that intentional decision, we’re enjoying the experience a lot more than when we’re making choices on autopilot. 

Boredom eating is not automatically bad. Most times it’s not bad at all! It’s not just about what we eat; it’s also about feeling aligned with those decisions and empowered by food. Emotional eating becomes more problematic if it creates a lot of distress for us. If emotional eating is the only thing we can do to cope with an emotional need and it becomes a crutch, then we wanna start looking at other ways to address those emotional needs.

If you can leave with one thing, I hope it’s knowing that boredom eating is not bad. It’s not a flaw that you have; it is meeting a need that you have. Nourish your body with food but do it intentionally. Check into what your emotional needs are and see if any other things will bring you the emotional support you need.

Ready to heal your relationship with food FOR GOOD? Join the waitlist for The Balanced Program. 

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