If you absent-mindedly snack or binge, could the underlying cause be boredom? Read on to find out how to make life more interesting – and unhealthy food less so…

Feeling bored? Are there dull areas in your life you may not even really know about? Well, search them out and set yourself up for the year ahead – with a better, brighter, more interesting life.

“I’m having trouble controlling my eating,” you might think. “I’m always picking away at some snack or other. But I still feel empty.” Or you may have trouble with binging. Does this sound familiar? Everything is fine during the day, but in the evening, when the kids have gone to bed or you are in front of the television, the urge to eat and eat overcomes you.

SnackingThere are plenty of reasons why this sense of boredom kicks in. Work may be unsatisfying. Your relationship may have broken down and you suddenly have lonely evenings to fill. It’s easy to call this type of snacking and binging comfort eating, but those biscuits and crisps, cakes and ice-cream, were about more than that. You may find that actually, like so many others, you are eating out of boredom. After all, whenever you can’t think of anything to do, you can always have something to eat! And when you feel restless and dissatisfied, yearning for ‘you don’t quite know what’ – maybe some food will fill the gap and, since it doesn’t, better have some more . . . !

Boredom is bad enough when it’s just being stuck in some dreary waiting room with nothing to read. Or sitting in some dull meeting that just goes on and on. You get tense and stressed, intensely frustrated. But what if your job or your relationship or your life are boring? That’s a serious long-term stress. You can literally get bored to tears and are more likely to be depressed. And you really can get bored to death! Bored people get sicker and die younger, it’s been found.

Instant gratification

Boredom eating is part of why it’s so bad for you to be bored. Boredom eating doesn’t drive you to the fridge for healthy snacks. When you’re stressed, depressed or anxious – whatever the reason – you tend to crave sweet, fatty, instant-gratification foods that are bad for your health and death to any diet.

Boredom partying or drinking aren’t good for your health either. Worse, these excitements only work for the moment – because, after all, they’re just more of the same!

Most of us have areas of boredom in our lives. Surroundings, relationships, activities – things that have lost their interest or challenge. People can become depressed or anxious, eating and drinking too much – and they don’t even know why. On the surface everything is fine – their job isn’t stressful and they can do it easily. But that is often the problem. Once their work was new and exciting. But now it’s dull. They know what needs to be done, they know how to do it, and they’ve learnt everything about their own skills and abilities. They’re bored not just with the job but with themselves.

It is so easy to drift into boredom. For one thing, we always make a comfort zone of routines, people and facilities that make our lives easy. But this comfort zone can become a trap, holding you back from growth and development – like an old, soft, saggy sofa you struggle to get out of.

If you’re bored to tears, here are some suggestions for getting zest back in your life.

Cook

Fight boredom eating with interesting food! It’s amazing what limited diets many of us have. The same few foods cooked in the same ways. Try different foods and new ways of cooking. There are so many sources of interesting recipes, such as magazines like Slim, Fit & Healthy and websites as well as traditional cook books. When you spend a lot of time preparing and cooking food, it actually seems to satisfy your appetite more.

Challenge

Stretch yourself by trying new things. When people are bored it usually turns out that they are most bored with themselves! As you get older, you feel you know yourself pretty well and what type of person you are. And yet time and again you read of people who change their lives and discover talents and abilities they had no idea of. If you keep on doing thigs in the same old way, how can you ever be sure you know what you could be capable of?

Changing your eating habits, perhaps through following a weight-loss plan, can make it easier to unearth your hidden abilities. If you’ve been overweight for years, you’ve probably held yourself back in many ways because you were uncomfortable with the way you were. When you read inspiring success stories, you often find that the people have discovered a whole new personality to go with their new figure – except it’s not a new personality, just one that was hidden under layers of fat.

Change

Changing your daily environment is a good place to start. But changing your attitude and approach to life is a far more effective way of keeping interested. You can still do the same job in the same place with the same people, but stop just going through the motions. Look at your job differently and change it so it uses your talents. If you’re a great organiser, embrace that skill and organise the office and your work to within an inch of its life! You won’t need to battle to control your boredom eating if you aren’t bored any more.

If it’s your life outside of work that’s the problem, take advantage of all those free evenings. Attend an evening course or enrol in a distance learning programme. Make a conscious effort to find new friends through different activities or online social groups, or rekindle old friendships that you may have let lapse. When life is full and satisfying, there’s no room for bingeing.