Have you ever gotten mid-way through a snack, only to realize you’re not actually hungry – just bored? Scientists have explored the concept of boredom eating for some time, suggesting it could stem from a range of factors, including the sense of pleasure we get when we eat.

When we’re bored, we may eat out of habit or in an effort to fill an emptiness we feel inside. It’s common to reach for food when you don’t have anything else to do.

I find that if I’m working on something that really interests me, or if I’m trying to meet a deadline, I don’t have time to be bored. And therefore, I don’t find myself eating out of boredom.

While boredom eating from time to time isn’t necessarily something to worry about, it can become a problem when it happens too often. If you constantly eat when you’re not hungry, you will find yourself dealing with weight gain, and other problems.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the temptation to eat out of boredom.

Eat Regularly Through the Day

The first step in preventing constant boredom is to adjust your food schedule. Try to spread your calorie intake throughout the day, with a regular meal and snack schedule.

This should ensure you feel full more often, and less likely to consume calories when you have nothing else to do.

Although you’re not guaranteed to avoid eating when you’re full, you will be more inclined to look for other ways to entertain yourself. What’s more, the knowledge that you’re planning to have a snack or meal soon can stop you from eating until the right time.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your eating schedule until you find something that works.

Choose Your Diet Carefully

A good diet can also help reduce the risk of eating when hungry, as well as minimize the potential side effects of eating too much.

It’s important to avoid restricting your diet as much as possible. If you find yourself reaching for specific types of foods when you’re bored, you might be tempted to stop eating those completely.

However, cutting specific foods out of your diet can just make the cravings worse. If you’re overwhelmed by the desire to eat something, you’re more likely to eat large amounts of it when you lose control.

When it comes to snacking, it’s worth investing in healthy, filling alternatives to keep your stomach feeling satisfied.

Some foods are particularly filling. For instance, proteins like eggs and cottage cheese are a great choice for snacking, as are fiber-rich foods like whole grains.

Foods high in water are also excellent for keeping you satiated too.

Practice Mindful Eating

One of the reasons eating when bored is so common is that many of us have gotten used to passively eating. We consume foods according to a specific schedule, without paying much attention to when we’re actually hungry.

Being more mindful about how and when you eat can be a good way to reduce your negative food habits.

Mindful eating means paying attention to your mental and physical states when you eat.

Some studies have found that mindfulness is excellent for reducing eating in response to issues like boredom or emotion. Eating more mindfully will also help you understand the difference between boredom and hunger, so you can make better decisions about when to eat.

Next time you sit down for a meal, pay attention to how the food makes you feel, what you can taste, what the textures are, and so on. You may eat less as a result of this.

Know Your Triggers

Boredom eating is a psychological condition which has nothing to do with physical hunger. At times, this psychological condition can be aggravated by other factors, like stress or anxiety.

You may be more likely to eat out of boredom when you have easy access to food, or when you see a lot of food on television or social media.

As part of your mindful eating strategy, consider keeping a food journal about what’s happening in your environment when you’re tempted to eat out of boredom.

One of the most common reasons we eat out of boredom is because our minds are distracted by something else.

If you find yourself constantly reaching for extra food when you’re sitting in front of your television or scrolling through your phone, you know you need to reduce your exposure to screens.

Distract Yourself

Finally, if you’re struggling with eating from boredom, look for other ways to cure your boredom. When you start to feel restless and want to go to the fridge, put on your coat and go for a walk around the block.

Exercise will distract you from the urge to snack, while also physically removing you from food.

There are other ways you can experiment with distractions too. Sometimes, reading a book or doing something with your hands will keep you busy enough to avoid eating.

Some people find simple breathing exercises are enough of a distraction too. Experiment with different methods until you find something that works for you.