Stop Eating When Bored Fight Mindless Overeating

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Stop Eating When Bored_ Fight Mindless Overeating

Wondering how to stop eating when bored?

We all have those moments when we’re bored and need something to do.

You are at work, you are sitting around, or you are waiting for a friend to get out of class.

Whatever the case may be, it can be hard not to eat during these times.

You may think eating is helping to pass the time. But boredom actually means your brain is low on dopamine.

You keep turning to food because food can give you a dopamine boost.

This is the most important thing you need to understand about mindless overeating.

Because Learning How To Stop Eating When Bored Is Tough!

dopamine brain

But there’s nothing wrong with you for struggling with boredom. 

Your brain is low on dopamine, and you may want to crave sugar now.

Now it’s not easy to counteract this lack of dopamine. When you lack dopamine and feel depressed then you don’t have much awareness.

To stop boredom eating you need to become aware first. 

Then from this place of awareness start doing things to boost your dopamine!

Don’t know what dopamine is? Dopamine is a scientific word for feeling happy! Ok?

First you must become more aware and then you must become more happy. This is how you stop eating when bored.

I recommend making a commitment to practice these four steps until you gain mastery.

  1. Become more aware
  2. Understand what you really need
  3. Get what you need
  4. Boost your dopamine

1 – Journal To Become More Aware Of Boredom

journal coffee

Journaling is one of your most powerful tools to stop bored eating.

A journal is your most powerful weapon to fight back against eating out of boredom.

When you journal you become more aware of what is going on with your thoughts and needs.

Awareness is important because mindless eating occurs when we are not present.

Have you ever found yourself halfway through a bag of chips before realizing what was going on?

The best way out of this cycle is journaling. You must make a firm commitment to journal before you eat.

Why? Because there is always something causing boredom!

Look! You are not only bored.  You feel bored but you are hungry, tired or stressed too.

Many times people feel bored because they feel helpless too. They feel like they have no control. 

Journaling helps you find what it is that’s going on with your mood.

After you know what’s going on then boredom will not be a trigger for mindless eating anymore!

So to summarize here: all you do is write out your thoughts and feelings before you eat.

You don’t have to make any judgement about them.

Just write out the thoughts and feelings that are on your mind before you eat so they can become more clear.

2 – Understand What’s Causing Boredom Eating

picture of a habit loop of cue, routine and reward as context on how to resist the urge to eat

As you journal you’ll need to dig deep. Ask yourself, ‘Why do I want food right now?’

You will need to ask ‘why’ several times, going deeper into awareness each time.

Something is causing your boredom. What is causing your boredom?

Remember, you’re asking with awareness and not judgement. You want to know what is going on in your body as a result of the question ‘why’. 

You might feel sad, powerless or tired. No wonder why it feels good for a moment when eating something sweet like ice cream!

Let’s say you journal. Then you discover beneath your boredom you are feeling sad, powerless or tired.

If so – then ask yourself why again!

  • Sad, why?
  • Powerless, why? 
  • Tired, why?

Each time you ask ‘why’ you’ll gain more awareness.

  • Sadness because I’m miserable and feel like nothing is going right in my life. I can’t do anything so I mind as well eat to pass the time.
  • Powerless because ignored at work. No matter how many times I try to switch my schedule nobody seems to listen.
  • I’m tired because I’ve worked all day without a break. Now I can barely think and I just want to eat because I can’t think anymore.

How To Ask “Why”: Why Eating When Bored?

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But What If I Don’t Know Why I Am Bored?

Why Do I Emotionally Eat? Ask Yourself This Question To Discover Why! San Jose Eating Disorder (Video)

Sometimes even if they journal people struggle to understand why they feel bored.

If you can’t figure out why you feel bored then you can also think about the benefits of boredom eating.

You might be asking yourself- what benefits? Well, if you really think about it there are many. 

Let’s use the examples from above so you can see how all these steps go together!

  • Sad: Ice cream will make me feel numb so I don’t have to feel my emotions
  • Stress: Food will take your mind off stress and help you feel calm
  • Tired: Food will distract you from work and give your brain a chance to recharge

It may seem like mindless overeating is making life more difficult.

But when we have a clear view of the situation then things start to become clearer and less impulsive.

Maybe mindlessly eating food is actually helping you cope with a difficult situation.

This is why awareness comes first. The first step to stop eating when bored is to become more aware. You must understand why!

3 – Get What You Need To Stop Eating When Bored

maslow hierachy of needs

At this point you should have a more clear picture about why you want to eat food all the time when you’re bored.

Now it’s time to take precise and specific action to boost your dopamine.

Down below you’ll see a list of ways you can boost your dopamine. 

This list includes many activities I know you’ve heard before. 

Things like calling a friend, walking, or taking a 15 minute cat nap.

The key is to do dopamine boosting activities for your personal situation!

  • Sadness contributing to your boredom? You may want to try calling a friend
  • Stress causing boredom? You may want to go on a walk to destress
  • Tired behind your boredom? You may want to take a quick nap

Do these examples make sense?

You need to shift your energy somehow in a healthy way. But just doing some random activity because you Googled how to stop boredom eating won’t work.

You have to become more aware and understand what’s going on in your body and mind. What does eating do for you?

After you know what eating and food is doing for you then you can choose to do something that will actually target the root cause of your boredom eating!

The reason people feel like a bottomless pit is around food is because they aren’t addressing their real emotional needs.

For me I am an introvert and if I am feeling stressed I like going on a walk. But other people are extroverts and like calling their friends.

  • If you are an introvert like me and you feel stressed then calling a friend is NOT the right answer.
  • But if you are an extrovert then calling a friend might be perfect when you are feeling stressed.

Again, the key is to understand your personal situation.

I recommend you journal first. Then shift your energy towards happiness for what matches your situation!

Here’s How To Use Your Journal To Identify Your Personal Needs

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Here are some ideas on how to stop eating when bored by boosting your happiness 🙂

4 – Boost Your Dopamine

Be Productive

The best way to get rid of stress or boredom is by taking on a productive task, like cleaning your house.

Don’t just sit there watching tv throughout the day. That’s the exact opposite of what I suggest!

Reach out to someone you haven’t talked with in awhile.

Put together a puzzle while listening to some music!

You can do something here – anything! You can even brush your teeth!

It sounds silly, I know. Brushing my teeth when it’s not time for bed?

But yes – this can help you feel productive and help shift your focus.

Get A Light Sweat

Go on a brisk walk or take an online yoga class. The most reliable way to boost your endorphins is to move your body.

Going outside on a nature walk can really help you shift your perspective too.

But don’t worry about getting a ton of exercise. Remember this type of ‘exercise’ is to boost your mood or help relieve stress. Don’t worry about calories!

Focus on feeling better as a result of moving your body 🙂

Get More Sleep

Sleep is crucial for your mood. 

The human body enters a state of deep relaxation during REM sleep. REM sleep in turn helps relieve depression, anxiety and bad moods. 

But not just any amount will do – it needs to be at least six hours per night, and ideally eight or more (depends on age).

You can also get some benefits from napping too 🙂

Sleep deprivation increases the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol then leads you to crave sugary foods because sugar helps raise serotonin levels.

Plus, we already know going lack of sleep means higher chance of eating when bored 🙁

Connect With A Friend

Sometimes you just need to give a friend a ring!

You have a natural need for human connection. But human connection is not possible when indulging in eating alone.

Chat with someone about something happy!

Oh, and maybe limit social media use. It tends to make people depressed 🙁

I recently deleted my Google news app too. I was spending too much time reading negative news.

5 – Keep A Gratitude Journal

Sometimes you are feeling depressed and can’t seem to shake yourself.

A gratitude journal can help you find the good in your life. You don’t need to write a lot, just two or three things that made today great! A

It helps even when it feels unrealistic at first and saying thanks will lift up anyone’s mood 🙂

6 – Play Games

The best way to pass the time is to enjoy something so much that time flies by!

In fact I just played poker yesterday for 3 hours! Time flew by so fast!

What games do you like?

The best games are ones that need intense focus and involve a lot of strategy.  Like poker or chess! But hey that’s me 🙂 Of course you can find something else to do too!

You can also try puzzles, card or board games to keep your hands busy!

7 – Eat Something Healthy

Try an apple instead of what you eat when you’re bored!

That will give me some energy because apples have natural sugars without any too many calories 😀

Plus often when you use a journal you will realize you may feel some physical hunger cues such as growling or gurgling.

If you are bored and you feel like eating … well, just realize you may actually be hungry and eating is the right response!

Don’t think that all forms of eating are bad.

What’s bad is when you feel bad but you only know how to eat to feel good. That’s bad.

8 – Drink Water First

If you do start to feel hungry, don’t eat yet. Drink some water or drink a cup of tea first 🙂

That way the hunger is just from your body wanting fluids and not food  😉

Wrapping Up How To Stop Eating When Bored

Many people struggle with eating when bored so don’t think it’s only you.

It’s important to realize there’s nothing wrong with you. Your brain needs some extra dopamine!

Be sure to commit because learning how to stop eating when bored requires some work!

Dig deep with a journal! Understand why you are feeling bored. Then do something about it!

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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