Breaking Bad —–Habits: Eating When Bored

This is a continuation of the article from the March 19th Weights and Balances Newsletter. 

Scientifically speaking, eating when bored is believed to be associated with the brain needing more “dopamine” (neuro-transmitter) to feel excited and stimulated.  Scientist believes that eating releases this neurotransmitter.  This is the same stimulus/response that will enable some to easily become addicted to drugs and alcohol.  When we are eating when bored, it appears this is our “substance of choice” to try to wake up our dopamine transmitters in our brains.  How many of us associate good feelings/good times with eating?

Why do we eat when we are not hungry?

  • It’s a special occasion, find other ways to celebrate special occasions without focusing on food
  • Avoid buffets and eating just because “it is there” Do not purchase foods which you have a difficult time eating a reasonable portion
  • Don’t start eating just because everyone else is eating!
  • Being tired can often lead to overeating; don’t eat at midnight; just go to bed!
  • Eating because it is FREE or cheap
  • Because you can’t say no
  • Because you were raised to clean your plate

What can I do to instead of eating when I get bored?

  • Keeping a food journal – write down what you are feeling before you eat, are you really hungry or thirsty, keep dates and times when you feel “driven” to eat too, rate your feeling of hunger from one to ten!
  • Meditating/Prayer
  • Breathing exercises
  • Read a good book
  • Watching a favorite movie
  • Listening to a favorite band
  • Treating yourself to a new something
  • Refrain from seeking pleasure all the time
  • Become familiar with what triggers you to eat (patterns) and set up a plan ahead of time on how to deal with it in more productive way!
  • Take a walk!
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Call a friend
  • Solve a crossword puzzle
  • Play cards or a board game
  • Write a card to someone who is sick or shut in
  • Find something to do with your hands; needlework, manicure, typing, writing, playing an instrument
  • Clean your room!
  • Do the laundry
  • Plan your next vacation
  • Organize your closet/drawers/garage
  • Chew a piece of gum
  • Write a blog
  • Volunteer in your community/church
  • Learn relaxation exercises
  • Participate in individual and/or group counseling

I think the point is do ANYTHING productive but eat when you are bored!

I have begun to try ask myself the following when I find myself driven to eat when I am not really hungry.

  • I ask myself, why do I want to eat now?
    • Am I  really hungry?
    • Am I  really thirsty?
    • Am I felling bored?
    • Am I felling angry?
    • Am I feeling upset?
    • Am I feeling lonely?
    • Am I feeling tired?
  • What do I want to eat right now?
    • Do I want something specific?
    • Do I want something salty?
    • Do I want something Sweet
  • I have found myself also asking after starting to eat something I really wanted, how much am I enjoying this?
    • Slow down, take your time
    • Rate your enjoyment  from 1-10
  • How full am I?
    • Chew thoroughly
    • Eat slowly
    • Rate your fullness from 1-10
  • Why did I eat all that?
    • Make notes and notice patterns and triggers (work, arguments, etc.)
    • Get to the bottom of why you did it (anxiety, stress, boredom, etc.)
    • Be honest with yourself!
    • Don’t beat yourself up; move on!

It is hard to face that you have some bad habits; but eating out of boredom is that.  Time to overcome!  Time to make more positive changes!  This is the first in a series on  breaking bad habits when trying to lose weight.

Hunger 3

Boredom 1

Boredom 2

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