Note: Learn more about the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program here or at www.amihungry.com.
Does this sound familiar? You’re at loose ends, not feeling very motivated, with nothing particular to do, so you wander into the kitchen. And while you’re waiting for inspiration to strike, you start opening cupboards and the refrigerator, and before you even quite know it, you’re munching on something. It may not even be something you want or would normally eat, or maybe it’s what you’ve been valiantly trying to resist. Either way, you may suddenly notice that whatever it is is gone, and you can’t even remember what it tasted like, and you still don’t know what you want to do. Only now, you feel not only uninspired but maybe guilty and perhaps a little uncomfortable.
Many of us occasionally eat out of boredom. It’s a way to pass the time, after all, doing something that provides comfort and some degree of pleasure. The problem is that it’s temporary, it’s not conducive to weight management, and it doesn’t address what’s behind the boredom.
For instance, what if what you really want is to do something creative, but you don’t give yourself an opportunity to find that out because you’re too busy eating? Or perhaps you want something mentally challenging, or to get out in nature, or do something playful?
If you’ve gotten accustomed to turning to food in those moments, it can be hard to think of other things to do. That’s why in the Am I Hungry? class we talk about making a list ahead of time, and even to have a distraction kit with some things on-hand that you can turn to. A deck of cards, knitting, a magazine or book, a game of some sort, Legoes, a slinky, a kaleidoscope, whatever tickles your fancy.
My fallback is always writing; it doesn’t take much preparation and I can do it anywhere. Other things I enjoy are going for a short walk, using the laser pointer to play with my cats, or sometimes just cleaning, where I can see immediate, tangible results, which I don’t get when working on software.
If you know whatever works for you, then perhaps the next time you find yourself grazing out of boredom, you could look at your list or kit to think about ways to fill the time other than eating.