“Hello! I just need some advice please! I try to eat healthy and work out on a regualr basis, but I constantly eat when I am bored, even though I am not hungry. I get bored and keep wandering into the kitchen and grabbing all kinds of snacks. How do I stop this habit?”

While there are many diverse reasons for overeating, one trigger is boredom. Boredom eating is surprisingly common. Research has reported that almost half of all adults turn to food to stifle feelings of boredom, or to manage a negative mood. Most people realize that food works to temporarily distract us from the boredom while also calming and soothing the body. However, several problems exist with boredom eating: it’s only a temporary patch for boredom, it quicky becomes a habit, and it can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Boredom is an important signal. It is an inner sign that life that is not being lived to its fullest, most enjoyable expression. Boredom tells us we have become weary of a life that is dull, monotonous, repetitive, and routine. We can feel the uncomfortable energy inside just waiting to expand into a fuller and larger life. The energy may be uncomfortable because it has no direction to go into. It’s just swirling about with nothing to anchor itself to. However, the feeling of boredom and energy connected with boredom is not a bad thing. It’s the energy required to follow through with a passionate idea or desire. Boredom invites us to take a breath and delve a bit deeper to explore personal passions and desires. Suppressing boredom with eating only serves to put life on hold.

Increase Joy

Certainly, food can bring moments of feeling good. For some it’s a joyful sugar rush, or the comfortable numbness of an overly full belly, while for others it’s the calm that comes when food triggers the release of the soothing brain chemical serotonin. Using food to alleviate an uncomfortable physical feeling is not a bad thing. Everyone wants to feel better, and no one is a bad person for turning to food to ease the discomfort of boredom. There is no reason to punish yourself for doing something pleasurable.

What you might notice is that boredom eating doesn’t make the actual boredom go away. At best it creates a few moments of distraction, or a few moments of temporary relief. At worst, boredom eating leads to a soon unconscious, yet powerful repetitive habit of eating to feel better, and many unwanted pounds. What is needed are more joyful moments! Joyful experiences that are even more rewarding, more gratifying than eating.

It might be argued that we each have a “joy set point.” Meaning an internal regulator which determines how much joy we can feel. Boredom is our way of showing ourselves that we have outgrown this “joy set point.” Boredom is a signal we give ourselves to allow ourselves greater joy, and greater aliveness. It may take some effort, but we can have a huge effect on how much joy we allow. The joy and aliveness sought does not come from outside sources such as food, but from internally deciding to focus on thoughts and actions which support our own happiness.

Each day provides limitless opportunities to increase joy. Check inside and notice where personal interests lie. Perhaps activities such as writing, art, dance, a new career or business, helping people, getting involved in a sport, going back to school, learning, nature, socializing, or book clubs might sound interesting? Determine to write down a list of alternatives to boredom eating, a list of things you like to do. Carry this list with you, or tape it to your refrigerator. Decide to explore different directions, act on the decision, and take note of each success.

Your mission in life is to find what brings you joy, live what brings you joy and share this joy with others. When you live and share what brings you joy, your life will be fulfilled. You will be guided from the inside out, rather than by what someone else thinks is right for you or what you perceive someone else wants you to do.

Author's Bio: 

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Helping people let go of self-destructive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors has been the life work of Dr. Annette Colby. Her fascination with the power of the mind, emotions, spirituality, and physicality has led her to become a leader in the field of personal growth and consciousness. She is a valued counselor, and an inspiring teacher, as well as an independent writer, mentor, and guide. She is a highly sought-after trainer with a unique ability to inform and inspire individuals to open their hearts, love more openly, and pursue their dreams.

Dr. Annette Colby, RD Nutrition Therapist & Master Energy Therapist

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