This is the type of eating impulse that strikes us in those idle moments either at work or at home between the times of mental or physical engagement.
Sometimes boredom can function to facilitate procrastination. It’s much more pleasurable and immediately rewarding to eat something that is to start a term paper, balance the checkbook, or write a book. An eating interlude can fill up the empty space and give us the perception of being constructive. This type of boredom eating carries very little value either nutritionally or socially and should be a high target for elimination.
Pre-eating reflection is a critical skill that will help us eliminate boredom eating. This refers to the technique of stopping for a moment prior to putting anything in our mouth and asking a simple question; why? If it is a predetermined feeding time, the answer to the question should be self-evident. These are the times of required sustenance to fuel the machine. By now you should have identified your feeding times and made them a standard part of your routine. If the impulse to eat falls outside of a feeding time the moment of reflection can be helpful.
If you recognize that there is a major task that you are delaying this information may help you avoid compounding procrastination with unhealthy eating. A better approach would be to plunge into the work and reserve room for reward food when it is completed. This fits in nicely with premeditated discipline, since the reward food can be set aside and pre-chosen. The proper type and amount of reward food will reinforce your positive behavior cycle and protect you from stimulating the growth of fat cells.
Boredom can be a partner with craving and stress eating. One thing these forms of eating all have in common is the need for idle time and free hands.
Developing hobbies that involve both mental focus in manual activity can be helpful to deflect the eating impulse at these times. Needlework, stamp collecting, gardening, writing, crossword puzzles are some examples of activities that can fill hollow time and distract us from our thoughts about eating. If you find that your life lacks any hobby activity, part of your premeditated discipline may be to cultivate such an interest so that it can serve you to displace boredom/stress/comfort eating.
There really is no great medical or nutraceutical treatment that will help you avoid boredom eating. This requires behavioral change and preplanning. Stop, think, look at the big picture of where you want to be ultimately, not where your impulse is taking you in the moment.
Dr. Stephen Petteruti is board-certified in medical weight loss and family practice. He runs a Functional Medicine Center and has been practicing Medical Weight Loss for over 15 years. For more information about his center and weight loss program, please visit: https://www.im-120.com/
Intellectual Medicine 120 is in Warwick, RI.
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