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Boredom Eating: Tips to break the habit

Eating When Bored  Can Lead to Unhealthy Eating Habits

If you ransack your refrigerator, pantry and kitchen cabinets when you're bored, welcome to the club.

Boredom does make you hungry. Not hunger for food, but emotional hunger. When you're bored, you are hungry for that dopamine surge. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. When you feel pleasure - eating your favorite food for example - your brain releases dopamine.

When your dopamine level is low, you may experience feelings of boredom. Eating is an enjoyable and comforting experience, so it makes sense that people are drawn to eating when bored.

So, boredom leads to unhealthy eating habits caused by this emotional hunger. The only problem with this kind of hunger is you never feel satisfied as your brain continues to seek a solution to your boredom.

But it’s a vicious cycle: when you binge-eat out of boredom, you gain weight; when you gain weight, you tend to lose self-confidence which may lead to depression; when you are depressed, you end up eating more to defeat the feeling of emptiness. Eventually, your relationship with friends, family and social circle may begin to suffer.

How to Prevent Boredom Eating

  1. Pause before you eat. Now that you're aware of the root cause of your problem, you should be able to identify emotional hunger from real hunger.
  2. Drink a glass of water. Thirst can easily be mistaken for hunger.
  3. Find a diversion. Take a walk, call a friend, read a book, do housework - anything that can burn calories instead of collecting them.
  4. Chew on sugar-free gum. This can prevent mindless munching.
  5. Schedule your meal and snack time. The key is awareness. If you eat according to schedule, you become more aware of your food intake, giving you greater control.
  6. Embrace boredom once in a while. Food is tastier when you are famished, water tastes sweeter when you are parched. In the same manner, life can be more satisfying and fulfilling if we can tolerate not being entertained all the time.

I’m struggling ! What do I do now?

If you are struggling to control your boredom eating, you can stock up on healthy and mood-boosting food so when you feel the urge to eat, you can quickly choose healthier options.

Instead of sugary and fat laden food, try snacking on:

- Vegetables and hummus

- Light popcorn

- Mixed nuts

- Fresh Fruits

- Greek Yogurt

- Dark Chocolate and Almonds

- Hard boiled eggs

- A piece of cheese

- Whey protein shake

- Canned Salmon or sardines

- Dried, unsweetened coconut

- Olives

The Dr Lockie Multi-disciplinary Approach May Help

Don’t let boredom eating hold you back - there are many more enjoyable and fulfilling things in life.

At the Dr. Phil Lockie Surgery our multi-disciplinary approach of a surgeon, nurse, dietitian and psychologist provides comprehensive support to patients pre and post obesity surgery.

If you have trouble with weight loss, there could be an alternative. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with our Perioperative Nurse Surgical Assistant, Shirley Lockie, to answer questions and discuss your options.




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