As easy as it might seem, sometimes it’s really difficult to tell the difference between when you’re truly hungry and when you’re actually just bored. Whether it’s absentmindedly wandering to the fridge on your way past the kitchen, or trying to occupy yourself while you’re waiting to go out, boredom eating is a real danger to your waistline.
The key difference is that while genuine hunger sets in slowly and will be satisfied with just about anything edible, emotional hunger or boredom hunger normally manifests in a craving for a particular food. And that particular food is very rarely a salad. As a former binge eater myself, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks I use to keep it under control.
The Apple Test
First, a popular theory! If you can’t tell if you’re genuinely hungry or not, head to the fruit bowl and eat an apple. If you tuck in and eat the whole thing then congratulations–you really were hungry and you’ve just sated your appetite with a healthy snack. If the thought of an apple doesn’t sound too good then you’re likely just craving food out of boredom.
Distract Yourself from Food with a Hobby
To stop yourself from opening the biscuits, you’ll need to do something you actually enjoy; you’re not going to get very far if the alternative is doing your tax returns! So indulge yourself in your favourite hobby and feel the hunger disappear! To make it even easier, do something that you need your hands for so you physically can’t eat, such as playing the guitar or doing a jigsaw.
Say Goodbye to TV Dinners
We all like to sit on the sofa with our favourite soap and pig out a little bit, but to avoid binge eating, try having all your meals at the dinner table to condition yourself to only eat at the appropriate times. If you get fidgety while watching TV and use snacking simply as something to do, occupy your hands some small weights instead or get past that pesky level of the new Angry Birds.
Cut Down on Snack Foods
When you boredom eat, it’s because there is something instantly ready in your kitchen. Crisps, biscuits, sausage rolls; these are all foods that can be grabbed and eaten straight away. A brilliant technique that worked for me was getting rid of all food that didn’t require any preparation to eat. Not only has this made me a better cook, but if I do get any urges to head to the kitchen and eat for the sake of it, I’m sorely disappointed when I get there, since there’s nothing I can quickly grab. When that convenience is gone, your fake hunger will go too!