The next time you feel hungry, ask yourself if you’re bored. You might be mistaking boredom for hunger. Maintaining good health and building up a strong immune system is a key to avoiding illness and disease. Overeating, malnutrition or simply eating the wrong foods breaks down our bodies’ defenses. This can take a serious toll on our cognitive and physical health. Learn to overcome boredom by first learning to differentiate between boredom and hunger. It will help you avoid overeating.
I’ll admit that I’ve always been one of those parents who never sat well with the “I’m bored” lamentations of her children. Truthfully, I’m thankful that I can probably count on both hands the number of times I can recall hearing any of my kids say it. They were always healthy, active and engaged-in-life kids who never really had trouble finding things to do. It’s not just children who claim to be chronically bored, however. Many adults blame boredom for their lack of get-up-and-go in life, too. If you tend to feel bored AND overeat, this post may inspire you to make some healthy lifestyle changes.
Overcome boredom by learning more about hunger
There are basically two types of hunger — physical and psychological. God designed our bodies to have an inherent desire to eat in order to survive. He also gave us powerful minds, however, which sometimes get us into trouble because He ALSO gave us free will. It will be easier to overcome boredom and develop healthier dietary habits if you learn to identify which type of hunger you’re experiencing at any given moment.
Your body lets you know if you’re physically hungry
If you are physically hungry, your body will present symptoms of its hunger. Such symptoms might include tummy rumblings, pangs or sharp pains in your stomach or a feeling of emptiness in your stomach. Once physical hunger has progressed for an extended period of time, you might also feel fatigued, distracted, weak or confused due to changes in your blood sugar level.
That “Man, I could really go for a…” feeling is psychological hunger
Most of us have done it. It’s 10 p.m. and you convince yourself you won’t be able to sleep unless you have a (insert food craving here). When you want something to eat, but your body isn’t showing signs of physical hunger, you are psychologically hungry. You might experience this after you’ve already eaten a meal and feel full, maybe even overly full. Your absolute favorite dessert is nearby and you’ve been thinking about it all day. You eat it anyway, even though your body definitely doesn’t need it.
If you’re a parent, you’ve likely experienced a child coming to you saying he or she is hungry. You offer three or four different things and the child declines because he or she wants (insert food craving here) instead. This is undoubtedly an example of psychological hunger. Physical hunger is satiated by any food whereas psychological hunger is typically attached to a specifically desired food.
Overcome boredom eating by recognizing your triggers
The empty or rumbling tummy and other symptoms we mentioned earlier regarding physical hunger are eat-for-survival triggers. If you struggle with overeating, it’s helpful to overcome boredom because it just so happens to be the most common trigger of psychological hunger!
Mental stress also triggers psychological hunger. (Are you an emotional or comfort food eater?) And, don’t forget that we are social creatures. If someone near you heaps seconds or thirds onto his or her plate, you’re more likely to do the same! When you’re with people who are eating or drinking, the when-in-Rome-do-as-the-Romans-do inclination kicks in.
Take proactive steps to overcome boredom before eating
The next time you’re reaching for food but aren’t physically hungry, consider ways to overcome boredom because it might be triggering your psychological hunger. Go for a brisk walk. Exercise. Take up a hobby. Do something constructive or creative. Stick with the activity for at least 30 minutes and see if your desire to eat has subsided. This article provides helpful ideas and information about overcoming boredom.
If your hunger hasn’t subsided after making several practical attempts to overcome boredom, you might actually be physically hungry. Does this mean you should never eat unless your body is exhibiting hunger pangs or tummy rumblings? No, of course not, but the point is — if you struggle with overeating and with boredom, there might be a correlation between the two. Learning to pause and discern whether you’re physically or psychologically hungry may also help you overcome boredom, which can lead to a healthier body and lifestyle!