I often ask people with weight issues if they are emotional eaters and nine times out of 10 they answer me “No I don’t eat when I’m emotional, only when I’m bored”. Eating out of boredom is a type of emotional eating! In fact it is one of the most common types of calorie dense, pounds packing, robotic eating there is. You may be doing a great job of eating healthy and then you are knocked off course by a dull day at the office, a lazy afternoon watching T.V, waiting at the airport, stuck in traffic etc. Next thing you know you are shoving a cookie in your mouth, opening a bag of chips, or having a third bowl of popcorn. One of my clients was journaling her food and was astounded to find that during office hours she ate 800 calories of Gold Fish crackers out of the vending machine! She did great keeping her regular food at 1,700 calories but the extra 800 calories totally threw her off base. The funny thing is that she said she wasn’t even hungry, just bored and needed something to keep her occupied.
1. First find out if you really are hungry. When was the last time you ate? Is it time for your snack, or are you just having a craving? If it is time for a snack, have a piece of fruit not a candy bar.
2. If you are having a craving you can beat it by sitting it out. Make yourself wait 20 minutes and most likely you will no longer want it.
3. Find something to do that makes it hard to eat at the same time. Go for a walk, take a bike ride, shoot some hoops with the kids, etc. If you’re bored at the office try chewing some gum. This will give you the sensation of eating something and should make the craving pass.
4. When out with friends or at a party, try to avoid “Mirror Eating”. This is when you eat because you see other people eating. If you are at a Mexican restaurant make sure the chips and salsa are so far away from you that it makes it awkward for you to reach them. At a party, mingle and have fun but stay away from the table with all the appetizers.
5. When you go to the movies don’t buy the popcorn. This is one of the most common events when people engage in “Robotic Eating”. That is eating handful after handful of popcorn and not even being aware of it. Bring your own snacks if you want to munch during the movie. I prefer to snack on edamame, or to bring my own portion sized hot air popcorn.
6. Don’t have treats while watching T.V. This is a great time to polish your nails. It’s hard to eat with wet fingernail polish!
7. Have a big glass of cold water with fruit slices in it. My favorites are cucumber, lemon, lime, or strawberries.
8. Avoid buying food that make you binge! If potato chips are gone as soon as the bag is open, leave them at the store! If a serving of ice cream ends up being three bowls, don’t temp yourself by buying it in the first place!
9. Stay away from artificial sweetener because this can actually trigger more cravings!
Keep a journal of the food you eat. Make note when the urge to eat out of boredom hits you. Is it when you are just hanging around the house? Is it when you are waiting for the rest of the family to get home? Is it when you are at work and you are having the 3:00 slump? Once you figure out the pattern make a plan to change it. Make sure you are having 2 healthy snacks (under 200 calories) during the day. It is important that you keep your metabolism burning. Boredom eating is one of the more subtle forms of emotional eating. Many times we don’t even know we are doing it. If you are eating healthy and are aware of your habits with some practice and modification you can get Boredom Eating under control!
Pam Nelson, Certified Personal Trainer, Premier Fitness Camp
Pam has been an A.C.E certified (American Council of Exercise) personal trainer for the general population since 1995. She is also a group instructor , and certified in teaching the “Mature Population”, people over 50. Her clients have varied far and wide. She has had people with Parkinsons, amputees, athletes, and people struggling with sever weight issues. She has taught “Park City Boot Camp” for 5 years. She is a native of Utah, went to the University of Utah and has lived in Park City for 25 years. She enjoys an active lifestyle of hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, anything that Utah has to offer. She has found a perfect fit working for Premier Fitness Camp and calls it her “Dream Job”, she is a trainer, group instructor, and a member of the coaching team.