Eating out of Boredom?
Updated: Apr 9
Even typing made me – ugh – very loudly in my head. I think we’re all too familiar with that feeling lately. The discrete emotion associated with feeling dissatisfied, restless or unchallenged by purposeless tasks.
Boredom is a classic trigger for emotional eating. In fact, researchers have found that study participants reported eating in response to boredom more than any other emotion. When we feel bored, we have a psychological need that isn’t being met. And often we try to meet that need with food, but it isn’t the solution that we really need. What we think is just boredom eating is really an avoidance of feeling all emotions that surface when we experience boredom. And food is a common escape from the unpleasant experience of boredom.
But what is boredom really? Boredom is defined as the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest. With that definition, we can see that boredom isn’t associated with empty time, repetitive tasks or any particular tasks. It is however related to a feeling of meaninglessness.
I guess that begs the question – does food give you meaning?
I would argue that food is a distraction and the fact that many people who eat out of boredom are seeking “exciting” junk foods and not vegetables leads me to another question – what is food providing you at that moment?
What relief are you seeking in the form of food? If you were to take a minute before grabbing the bag of chips and question “why are you eating?”; what would the answer be?
If you can identify it as boredom from 3 weeks of isolation and watching re-runs of Friends for the 100th time. I encourage you to:
2. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in.
3. Can you identify any physical hunger cues?
4. Ask yourself – what emotions am I trying to avoid?
5. Can you sit with the emotion for 30 seconds by taking 6 deep belly breaths?
6. When you experience this emotion what do you really need or what would be more helpful?
Is it a call with an empathetic friend?
A walk outside?
The key to remember is there is a choice you can make with any emotional eating trigger. You can choose to enjoy the food without guilt or shame OR you can choose to offer your body, mind & soul something that it truly desires. The choice is yours.