If we go back to the Paleolithic time, eating was a means to survive. A primal need to ensure that our DNA continued. We literally hunted and gathered out of complete need.
Fast forward to today and eating has become a complex activity motivated by so many reasons. Hunger, pleasure, boredom or simply being social. Unfortunately boredom eating has become all too common especially as a result of the amount of time we spend in front of the TV or computer. Even though you may be following the Paleo philosophy you may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts by thinking that because it is healthy or Paleo you can carry on eating the snack.
Let’s look at the ways to stop boredom eating:
1) Clear out the junk
If you don’t have it in the house, you cant eat it. The easiest and most effective way of ensuring that you don’t eat for boredom is making sure there is nothing but healthy options as your go to in the house. You are far less likely to over eat on healthy items than sugary or salty snacks designed to make us eat more.
2) Keep a food diary
Now this might sound overly dramatic, but one of the best methods to prevent boredom eating is one of the oldest methods- a food diary (1). Physically having to write down what you eat in a day can be a wake up call into just how much mindless snacking you are taking part in. Too often we feel we look back on a day and have absolute amnesia in terms of exactly what went into our mouths. If consistently have to face our bad habits and own up to them we are less likely to continue these bad habits.
3) Replace bad habits
We all have that one time of day when we are most likely to indulge in boredom eating. It could be the afternoon danger zone at about 4pm when our energy levels take a dive, or maybe the late night TV watching which prompts us to start raiding the vending machine or fridge. If you know and recognize your danger times you can do something about it. Take a walk, have coffee with a friend or rather read a book-break the habit!
Tip: When your afternoon slump hits try one of these delicious, healthy Paleo energy bars if you need a pick me up.
4) Brush your teeth or use mouthwash
After brushing our teeth we feel fresh and clean and are much less likely to want to snack on anything after our mouth has been cleaned. This method not only leaves us feeling great and improving our dental health bit also helps cut those unnecessary calories we take in from eating whilst bored.
5) Clean up after a meal
After eating a delicious Paleo dinner, pack away the leftovers and ingredients used as soon as possible. Leaving this till later can prompt boredom eating, particularly if the meal was tasty and you enjoyed it. Rather practice out of sight and out if mind, by having a clean kitchen you are less likely to dish up another serving. As a bonus you will wake up to a clean kitchen.
6) Hydration is key
When we are dehydrated our bodies often get confused and send our brain signals of craving something. The problem with this is often we cant distinguish between a thirst or a hunger signal and we end up snacking or eating when we really don’t need to as we are actually just thirsty (2).Keep well hydrated by drinking a glass of water every hour. When we drink large amounts only when we feel thirsty our bodies simply end up expelling the water and we end up running up and down to the bathroom.
Tip: Water is the best choice for most of the time, but when you are in the mood for something else to drink, try these refreshing Paleo appropriate options.
7) Out of sight, out of mind
Many moms moan that they still have to keep non Paleo snacks in the house for the rest of the family. While this is obviously not ideal, combat the temptation by storing sweet treats and snacks in cupboards and away from your line of sight. Research has shown that often simply hiding junk food away from our line of sight can help (3). Do it now, so that if and when boredom hits, the cookies or candy in a jar on the counter does not end up calling your name.
Remember that the journey to a healthier happier you does not happen over night. Making a huge amount of changes in a short space of time will often result in rebound behavior to old engrained habits. Rather start slowly making small manageable changes, and as time goes on add to these changes.