Are you guilty of eating after dinner even when you are full?
Boredom eating is a form of emotional eating, and it is real! Emotional eating is a learned behavior stemming from inaccurate filtering of hunger cues. The good news is that once you learn the difference in actual hunger cues versus emotional hunger cues developed by boredom, (or stress, anger, sadness, etc.) you can take back control of your emotional and dietary habits. Learn more here.
Overcoming boredom eating however can be rather difficult. What you may learn in your journey is that you will develop healthier coping skills and new habits that replace this seemingly self-destructive one. So to help you get started, I want to share the top nine solutions others have explored and developed along their journey that actually worked!
1. Create a bedtime routine away from food.
Boredom eating is often said to be a learned behavior, and learned behaviors often come as a routine. So just like your morning routine, work to establish an after-dinner routine away from food. You can try things like journaling, soaking in the tub, watching tv for an hour, reading a book and so on.
2. Brush your teeth right after dinner.
Though there is little science backing this theory, it is said that the minty taste of toothpaste left lingering in your mouth will make foods taste less desirable. Give it a try, and see if it works for you.
3. Pick up a “doing” hobby that occupies your hands.
Boredom eating is a habit of hand to mouth so painting, building something, creating a photo book, doing household chores, putting together a puzzle, etc. can occupy your hands so you don’t feel tempted to grab food you don’t need.
4. Exercise before dinner.
Moderate to intense exercise, especially aerobic, before a meal can help suppress your appetite. The hunger hormone that affects satiety, peptide YY has been shown to last 2-3 hours post your workout.
5. Go for a walk after dinner.
Not only will a 30-minute brisk walk after your meal help with digestion and even weight maintenance and loss, but it can serve as a perfect mood booster. Finding ways to lift your mood post-dinner can help establish healthier habits that do not cave to your cravings and emotional hunger cues.
6. Do not skip meals.
Whether you normally aim for three meals a day or six, skipping your regular meals can increase undesired cravings and contribute to overeating. According to a two-month study on the impact of reduced meal frequency without a caloric deficit in healthy middle-aged adults, researchers found that eating only a large meal per day increased the gremlin, the hunger hormone, as well as blood sugar levels. As a result, eating regular meals can help decrease appetite and cravings.
7. Make a phone call to a friend or family member.
Having good conversations with those you love increases dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure sections that are also triggered when eating. Essentially, you can get the same “high” chatting up your best pals as eating that extra snack that you always crave post-dinner.
8. Track your daily food intake.
Whether you keep a hardback food journal or use a tracking app on your smartphone, the act of tracking allows you time to focus and become aware of your dietary habits. Awareness is key to making changes in order to meet your personal goals and establish new healthier habits.
9. Play with your pet.
Just like chatting with loved ones can shift hormones that affect pleasure and joy, so can playing with your pet. Plus your pet will greatly benefit from the extra love and care.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey