Excited to share this helpful post from our guest blogger, Caroline!
We’ve all been there. You’re sitting around the house bored and with nothing to do. A few minutes later, you find yourself opening the fridge or rummaging through the cupboards to see what snacks are available. This is not an uncommon series of events for many of us, and it’s totally normal. However, if you don’t take the right steps to curb this habit, you could find yourself frequently overeating, which is bad for your health, as well as your budget.
There is hope, though, and there are many ways to fight off bored snacking and stress eating. We’ll be going over some of these strategies so that you can resist temptation and avoid those “Why did I eat that?” moments associated with too much unhealthy snacking.
Playing games is an excellent way to fend off boredom hunger. Humans are easily distracted and manipulated. Therefore, why not use this to your advantage? Give yourself something to do when you feel yourself getting bored before those snack cravings start to kick in.
For example, we all have smartphones these days, and there are tons of apps and games available for download. Whether you’re traveling or waiting around for something to happen, instead of snacking, get out your phone and start playing games. Before you know it, time will have flown past, and you won’t have succumbed to boredom hunger.
Popular games requiring decent concentration and focus are:
- Candy Crush Saga
- Words With Friends
- Super Stickman Golf 3
- Mini Metro
- And if you’re feeling adventurous, Pokémon Go
These games are interesting enough to distract you from feeling hungry, but they are just a small sample of what’s available. Games range from intense multiplayer strategy games to classic time passers such as solitaire. However, most of these games connect you to other players and some even ask you to enter personal information or turn on GPS tracking to get your location. In these cases, it’s a good idea to use a secure network to safeguard anything you want to keep private.
You know yourself better than anyone else, so think about the types of apps or games that will interest you. Do you like chess? Download a chess app. Do you enjoy word games? Try hangman. There are also lots of trivia based games to help you use this downtime to learn something new!
Whether you’re at home, the office or a friend’s house, when you feel boredom hunger coming on, get busy! Ask yourself: Are there things that need fixing or organizing? Are there any projects I’ve been putting off I could start?
Take this time to complete those tasks that you’ve put to the back of your mind. Once you start on a task, you’ll find that you want to complete it, and the need to do anything else will be put on hold. This means hunger is out the window.
If you can’t think of anything, ask others if they need any help. Call up friends and family members to see if you can arrange leisure or work activities with them. The idea is to get more proactive with your time. This is really more of a lifestyle change, as it means structuring your time better, which leads to more consistent meals and less urges for snacking. However, while you adjust to this change, consider helping a friend or tackling that back burner project you’ve been putting aside to help fight boredom hunger.
How many times have you thought of drinking water when you were hungry? Perhaps not many, but having just a glass of water is a really simple way to completely knock out boredom hunger.
People use this technique all the time for dieting, as it helps them to stop overeating at mealtime. By drinking a glass of water before preparing your meal or eating everything on your plate (if it’s too much), you reduce the level of hunger you feel, as the liquid fills you up.
Take a bottle of water with you wherever you go so that you can always be prepared. Also, bottles are easily refilled, so you’ll never be without some fresh H2O to fight down those hunger pangs.
Another tip is to constantly sip water. This helps keep hunger down and will also keep you hydrated.
Go for a 30-minute run or swim at the local pool when you begin to feel boredom hunger setting in. The level of attention and focus required for exercising will outweigh any snack cravings you have.
If you’d prefer not to perform a cardio type exercise, you can use yoga or even meditation to empty your mind of cravings and most other negative thoughts. Yoga and meditation go hand in hand, as they both focus on the sensations of the body and environment, as well as the observation of thoughts. Learning the skill of “watching thoughts” instead of taking action upon them will help you to disengage from any thoughts that could lead to snacking when bored.
It’s also beneficial to perform these exercises with a friend who understands your goal. Through accountability and a positive, goal-orientated environment, you’ll feel more motivated and determined to kick snacking to the curb.
One thing to point out is that you will need to spend some time learning your body. If you are genuinely hungry and haven’t eaten in a while, doing some exercise will run you down and is not good for you. The trick is to figure out when your hunger is just your brain being bored and giving you something to do. When this is the case, heading out for a run or doing some yoga is a great way to prevent unhealthy boredom snacking.
Tricking the Brain
Surprisingly, using food is one effective way to help ward off boredom hunger. It may sound counterproductive, but these techniques will help you to stop snacking and overeating, as they trick the brain into forgetting the feeling of hunger.
For example, chewing gum is a good way to trick the brain into thinking you’re eating. This method isn’t great long-term (at some point you need to eat), but if you’re trying to make it through to lunch or break-time, it will hold you off. Try this method when driving or traveling to a destination. Also, chew gum when in an environment where you’re usually offered snacks. The taste of gum usually doesn’t sit well with most snacks, and it will put you off eating what’s on offer.
Another method is the “small plate trick.” Instead of taking an entire bag of chips with you to the sofa or your desk, put a small amount on a plate instead. This will stop you from continuously reaching into the bag and eating all of the chips. It’s like rationing, and it works because you are not denying yourself snacks (something very hard to do), but rather monitoring how much you have.
Do this with any food, snack or not, as it’s one of the most effective techniques for preventing overeating.
Overall, the trick to overcoming boredom hunger is to be proactive and clever. By getting busy, playing games, exercising and hydrating, you can fend off boredom hunger when it ruthlessly strikes.
However, we should mention that the most effective way to ward off boredom hunger is your overall diet, and these tips and tricks should not be used to try and skip meals or do unhealthy fasting diets. (Consuming less calories doesn’t always mean getting healthier.) Eating the right foods in the right amount and at the right times will help keep you stay constantly fueled so that you don’t even think about snacking.
But paying close attention to what you eat and maintaining good nutrition still does not make you immune to the temptations of boredom snacking. So, when you feel the urge to dig through the pantry or the fridge, try one of these techniques to keep your mind off food and focused on the task at hand.
Do you have any experience with other methods that can help fight off boredom hunger? Let us know what you learned by leaving a comment in the section below.
Author bio: Caroline is health blogger with a keen passion for fitness and exercising. She enjoys spreading awareness for healthy diets and nutrition and is a strong advocate of the philosophy “healthy mind, healthy body.” Find more of her posts on ehealthinformer.com.