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How to stop eating when bored

I spent years trying to find the answer to “how to stop eating when bored.” It just felt out of my control because how could I not want to eat when bored… I was bored and wanted something to do. 

I didn’t know how to be ok with being bored, and I didn’t understand why I wanted to eat to solve it. So, I would just tell myself not to do it. And it would work for a while. But inevitably, I would end up doing it without thinking about it. 

Until one day, I figured it out. Keep reading to learn how to stop eating when bored. 

Why do you eat when bored?

The first step to creating a lasting solution to any problem is understanding why it’s happening. 

Creating a plan or simply telling yourself not to eat when bored is like putting a bandaid on a cut. Yes, it helps cover up the wound, but it’s not what actually heals the problem. 

The cut heals by your body healing the wound. And you stop eating when bored by solving the reason behind why you want to eat when bored. 

People want to eat when they feel bored because they aren’t comfortable with the emotion of boredom. 

So, why is it a problem to be bored? Well, after working through this problem with clients and doing it myself, I can say, usually, it’s one of two reasons:

You’re uncomfortable with boredom

Here’s the thing about boredom: it’s not a very comfortable emotion. It’s much more fun and pleasurable to be entertained. 

The habit and instinctual part of your mind wants 3 things: avoid pain, stay in the familiar, and seek pleasure. So, that part of your brain would rather be entertained in the short term and avoid discomfort by finding some quick source of enjoyment.

And in the case of boredom eating, it goes for food. It could be scrolling through social media or listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. 

Usually, our culture views being bored as a problem to be solved. And we solve it with quick entertainment. 

But it’s actually ok to be bored. Boredom is just an emotion we experience. It’s not a problem to be solved. 

More on how to not eat when bored will be coming in the future sections. Right now, I’ll just leave you with, boredom doesn’t have to be a problem.

When you’re bored, even more uncomfortable things come up. 

“If I don’t stay busy, I start thinking about past mistakes, the things I don’t like, and other topics that make me feel bad.”

Does that sound familiar? 

I know it was one of the reasons I used to hate feeling bored. Because when I felt bored, it seemed like my mind had time to wander. 

And my mind never seemed to wander to what was working. Instead, it focused on past mistakes and all the things that weren’t working in my life. All the goals I’d messed up or the embarrassing thing that happened years ago. 

So, I would turn to food to entertain myself and distract myself from these thoughts. 

Boredom eating is just a form of emotional eating. 

And it’s important to understand that boredom eating helps solve your boredom. 

Eating just may not be the way you want to solve your boredom. Still, it helps to know the reason you want to do it is because eating does work in the short term. 

And understanding the part of you that wants to boredom eat is the first step to stopping boredom eating for good. 

Here’s how to stop boredom eating

If you want to stop eating when bored, here’s what you need to do.

Learn to be comfortable with feeling bored.

Most of us are taught boredom is a problem to be solved. So, we’re always looking for something more fun and entertaining.

There are so many places we can be easily entertained, whether it’s social media, TV, video games, audiobooks, podcasts, food, online shopping, etc. 

So instead of just being bored, we seek something out to entertain ourselves and feel better.

It’s really just another type of emotional eating. And if you can learn to be OK with being bored sometimes, you won’t need to eat just because you’re bored.

Try asking yourself, why is it a problem to be bored?

I’m not saying just sit around and do nothing all day. Of course, it can be nice to use that time to do things you enjoy. 

But when you’re so uncomfortable with being bored that you try to fix it by overconsuming, it tends to lead to more problems. 

I say overconsuming because it’s not just the food we consume. 

We also consume by shopping, watching tv, etc. This leads to other issues like spending too much money or not using our time to do the other things we want to accomplish. 

So the best way to stop eating when bored is to learn to sit with uncomfortable emotions. You likely want to fix boredom when you aren’t willing to feel the uncomfortable feelings.

It sounds more fun and enjoyable to go eat something or do something fun. 

Here’s how you learn to become more comfortable with sitting with boredom. Boredom is just an emotion. Emotions are just vibrations and sensations in your body that come from your thoughts.

Step 1 Find how boredom feels in your body.

For me, boredom feels like an emptiness or a lack. Like a hollow ball in my chest and stomach. 

Find what sensations you’re feeling in your body when bored and sit with them. Boredom, like any other emotion, passes once you sit with the feeling.

Step 2 Answering why do you feel bored?

For most of my clients, it comes from thoughts like, “I don’t know what to do right now,” “I wish I had something more fun to do,” “this isn’t very fun,” etc.  

Once you know what thoughts leave you feeling bored, you can start recognizing them.

Step 3 learning a different approach to boredom

Boredom happens.

It’s just a human emotion that comes up.

Instead of making it a problem to be bored. You can either just let yourself be bored or engage in questions that help you find what you truly want in that moment.

Food is an easy way to cope with boredom. But it may not be the most effective way.

Ask yourself:

  • What would be more fun?
  • What would be fullfilling?
  • Is there something I want to do now?

And just test out different options to find what works the best for you.

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