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How to Stop Eating Out of Boredom

Author: Anna Frinzi

We’ve all been there – opening the fridge searching for something to occupy us, or snacking on a bag of chips while binging our favorite Netflix show. But why does this happen and how can we overcome the habit of consuming junk food when feeling bored? 

Eating when you’re bored is a behavior that can be changed with self-awareness. Today, we’ll break this process down, step by step, to learn how the pattern can be broken.

Step 1: Pause and consider your emotions

Pause and note WHY and WHEN you are going for foods out of boredom. Some Noomers have found it helpful to start a food journal and note each time they eat along with reflecting on their emotions. Reference this handy emotions wheel to pinpoint how you are feeling when you turn to food.

Next, determine the triggers around your tendency to eat out of boredom. Are you used to snacking during the same time each day? Is it because you see others eating? Are you eating simply because food is present and easily accessible? Recording this in a food journal or notebook can help you recognize these patterns and give you an idea of where to start breaking the habit of boredom-eating. 

Step 2: Identify triggers

Once you have determined these triggers, consider how you can change your environment or mindset to avoid these cues. Is it as simple as removing those unhealthy snack temptations from the pantry? Can you replace boredom eating with another healthy activity? 

Also consider your routine and what you can change to avoid these unhealthy eating patterns. When thinking about the behavior you want to adjust, consider the cues or triggers that led you to this choice. It can be helpful to make a list of triggers that lead you to eat when bored, whether it be the presence of junk food in the fridge or pantry, snack time for the kids, a nighttime routine that involves snacking, or some other cue. After identifying the cues in your routine that lead to boredom eating, think about what you can eliminate or change to make this behavior less likely to occur. 

Step 3: Swap in a healthy activity

Half the battle is simply determining when you tend to boredom eat and trying strategies that can change your behavior in those moments. Once you start developing this mindfulness around your tendencies and slow down, the next step is to try an alternative activity in those moments of boredom. 

Find a healthy swap that you enjoy, such as taking mindful breaths, practicing yoga, reading a book, playing with your kids, going for a walk, or any other activity that excites you. It might be as simple as removing yourself from the temptation by walking away from the buffet table, closing the fridge, or refusing to purchase your favorite snack treat. Think about what you like to do, what brings you joy, and try swapping in that activity when you are feeling bored. 

Some Noomers have found success with setting a time limit with this healthy swap. For example, if you are feeling the temptation to eat or snack, try out a different activity for fifteen minutes and see if you still feel hungry after. Developing this mindfulness around your food choices can help with your eating habits and turn this negative behavior into a positive one. Furthermore, swapping in some of these healthy activities can lead to a decrease in stress, which is an additional positive benefit for our health. 

Step 4: Drink water

Staying hydrated is vital for our health and sometimes we can mistake hunger for thirst. Be sure to always stay hydrated in order to avoid this tendency to eat. The amount of water you consume depends on your activity level, overall health, and other factors. Be sure to drink water throughout the day, particularly with each of your meals. And keep a portable water bottle on hand to remind yourself to stay hydrated!

Although everyone’s needs are a bit different, it is recommended that women aim for 2.2 liters per day (9 cups) and men should consume 3 liters of water per day (13 cups). Hydration is key for weight loss and assists in noting your hunger cues accurately. 

Step 5: If hunger is real, eat something healthy! 

After going through these steps and noting your reasons for wanting a snack or food, sometimes you may realize that you are not bored and are experiencing real hunger. True physical hunger comes on gradually and can be postponed. Any type of food can satisfy true hunger so choose a healthy food when this occurs. Try out some fruits, veggies, or other balanced snacks to feed that bodily hunger. Here are some handy yet simple snack ideas from the coaches here at Noom. 

If a snack is not quite enough for the real physical hunger you are experiencing, try out some healthy meals instead. Having healthy meals on hand and being prepared can help with this success and increase your chances of making a nutritious choice. Becoming familiar with your hunger cues and avoiding that temptation for snacking or junk food is paramount to your weight loss success. 

Get the support you need

Breaking your behavior down into steps and considering how to stop boredom eating is an important discovery in itself. Identifying your eating habits and acting on your desire to change shows your dedication to your health and weight loss journey. Everyone’s routine and food habits are a bit different so consider what will work for you. 
This process will not be the same for everyone! But one thing is true for everyone – the more support you have, the better. That is why you should consider joining Noom for additional guidance in making these changes. Our professional coaches and incredible community can help you change your habits and achieve real, sustainable results.