Ending Boredom Eating
How often do you tell yourself that you eat because you are bored?
It’s so easy to do – and provides a ready excuse for overeating, for not losing the weight you say you want to lose. Blame it on the boredom. Lots of us do.
However, when you really do want to stop the over-eating and lose the weight, do you wonder why you can’t? Do you wonder why it seems so difficult to stop eating when you are bored?
Maybe you never think long and hard about what boredom really is. Perhaps you focus so completely on wondering about the eating or not eating that you spend no time at all thinking about the boredom. You take it for granted that you know what that is – and why wouldn’t you?
Think about the key elements of boredom and what your natural instinctive response to boredom is. What do you instinctively do? You yawn, you shift uncomfortably, you sigh, maybe you whinge, whine or complain. Every impulse tells you to do something different, to get away, to do anything but this.
Boredom is your natural instinctive nudge to tell you to do something different; to create, to play.
Young children understand this. They are too absorbed in life and learning to understand boredom, but once adults try to impose restrictions on that abandoned sense of fun and joy, by expecting us to sit down, be quiet, listen, wait, then we start to experience boredom – that compulsion to resist the constraints of a set of circumstances so that we can go and do something we enjoy.
What we enjoy, as children, is likely to involve play, creativity, conversation, mental and probably physical energy; but the adults around us have other ideas.
To persuade a child to go along with things – or at least to stop complaining - an adult might use food as coercion. Pretty soon you learn to associate food with boredom, but you quickly forget what the original instinctive impulse was - to do something fun, enjoyable, stimulating, different.
It is said that to tame a wild horse, you initially corral it with electrified fencing; but after time, you can turn off the electricity. The horse becomes completely free to escape and yet it doesn’t. It believes that it is contained and stops making any further efforts to test that belief. In effect, it imprisons itself with its own belief system.
You do the same thing when you eat because you are bored. You no longer challenge the constraints of boredom by doing things you want to do because you act as if the boundaries that once prevented you are still there.
Now as an adult, you glibly accept that you eat because you are bored – but you’ve stopped feeling in control of the decision to manage your boredom in the way that’s best for you.
You prevent yourself from thinking about what you really want to do – and taking the action to make it happen; and no-one is preventing you doing what you want to do except you.
Boredom has become your excuse for eating. Yet it is eating that is your excuse for not tackling the boredom.
As long as you mask your feelings with food, you can avoid thinking about what it is you really want – like the company of friends, like playing sport, reading a book, writing a book, going out, learning a new skill or just taking a walk.
Next time you are bored, ask yourself one question. What would I rather be doing than this?
Eating is a poor substitute and consolation prize for not having what you really want - the interests you want, the freedom and fun that you want and the weight and shape that you want.
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