Have you ever wondered, what when you are watching a series on Netflix, long after dinner has been done and dusted, you feel like rummaging the fridge and eat whatever you can lay your hands on? You’re aren’t really hungry and it’s not some tempting dessert that’s tucked away and you are craving for it. You just want to eat something! This is boredom eating.
How to know its psychological craving born out of boredom?
It’s not easy to differentiate between physical hunger and psychological or emotional longing for food? Ruchi Sharma, clinical nutritionist and founder of Eat, Fit, Repeat, says, “Physical hunger or craving can be described as a situation in which your body really needs food to make up on consumed energy. Your stomach feels empty and you can hear it rumble. Or you may get a headache and feel weak.”
On the other hand, psychological craving is often stimulated by the needs other than hunger such as boredom, loneliness, stress or insomnia. Emotional hunger can also be triggered by environmental causes such as the ads on TV, aroma of the food, or the sight of some delicious food. “Emotional or psychological hunger is rarely satisfied, no matter how much food you eat,” says Ruchi.
Boredom is one of the triggers that stimulates the emotional cravings. Boredom eating is relatively more common than other types of psychological eating such as stress eating. When you start responding to your emotional or boredom cravings, it can lead to binge eating, weight gain and subsequent feelings of guilt.
How to stop it?
Ruchi suggests some strategies that can help you curb emotional eating.
1. Your first line of defence will be to communicate with yourself. Ask yourself a few questions like; what was the last time I ate? Am I really hungry or this is just an unnecessary craving? These questions will surely lead you towards some clear answers.
2. Don’t confuse thirst for hunger! Do not run instantly to grab a muffin or cookie if you are feeling exhausted and irritable. Before surrendering to the craving try to gulp a glass of sparkling water. If it was a trigger for psychological hunger, it could be suppressed by the glass water. You’ll get to know if it’s real hunger.
3. Map out a schedule for the day that can keep you from getting bored and eating unnecessarily.
4. When boredom strikes, try to get some chores done or read a book or go for a walk. It would distract you from craving for a sugary treat.
5. Postpone! It means if you want to eat but don’t really feel hungry then postpone it for 20 to 30 minutes. You'd be amazed at how a distraction can not only stall off a snack, but also unseat the need to eat.