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Why Do I Eat When I'm Bored?

Has working from home meant that you are eating far more than normal? Have you noticed that you just crave "something to do" and that "something to do" always seems to end up being snacking on things that you don't usually eat when you are at work? Or perhaps you notice that when you are busy - you don't even think about food - but then as soon as you have a quiet day, you end up eating far more than usual? Well perhaps it is reassuring for you to hear that this is very common - many people end up eating out of boredom.

Often we reach for food just to give us something to do. It is why, when we are out there, living-our lives, doing things, meeting people, enjoying life - that we are much less likely to overeat. However, on the other hand, when we are indoors, with little to do and much more time on our hands, fighting the urge to snack or over-eat can become a daily struggle.

When you have less to do - you also have more free mental energy to think about things ... and food can be one of those things that your mind ends up focusing on. Depending on the food that you go for (especially if it is a sugary treat) - the boredom could also be driving your brain to seek out some pleasure (or a dopamine hit) - so that you can experience some pleasure in that moment of boredom.

Of course, this boredom-eating can be tricky to manage at the moment, given that there are limitations on how much we can just go out and do things as normal. It is also tough to manage boredom-eating as the kitchen is always just around the corner tempting us with food all day wrong.

So what can you start to do if you are finding that you are eating when you are bored? Here are a few suggestions to get you started in managing your boredom-eating:

  1. Take on some exciting new projects or hobbies that you can pursue even from the comfort of your own home - you will eat less out of boredom because you are just less bored!

  2. Only keep food in your environment that you want to eat regularly - we eat with our eyes and so if we are surrounded by (and looking at) unhealthy snacks all day - we are much more likely to eat these snacks all day. Stack the odds in your favour by only keeping those foods around you that you want to eat regularly.

  3. Set a structure for your day - often snacking occurs throughout the day because you don't have set meals times or times that you allocate specifically for eating. By setting meal times you tell your brain and your body that there are only certain times when you will be eating food.

  4. Try drinking herbal teas (or perhaps cups of decafe black tea) - as very often we crave "something to consume" rather than a specific food or snack. Having something to drink can satisfy that craving.

  5. Use relaxation techniques such as meditation or hypnotherapy to help you to calm your body and focus your mind on other things. These can be really powerful tools for shifting your mindset and getting you to focus less on food and eating.

I have been helping many of my clients to manage their boredom-eating through the pandemic. If you would like some support in rebuilding your relationship with food, please get in touch with me at

“Our labour preserves us from three great evils -- weariness, vice, and want.”

Voltaire, Candide


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