How to Avoid Snacking When You’re Bored
Last updated: January 2022
It's 3:00 pm, do you know where the chips are?
I don't know about you, but boredom snacking hits its peak around mid-afternoon for me. Back when I was working in an office, I was always ready to break up the monotony of the afternoon, and snacking was one of the ways to do that.
What is boredom snacking?
Now that I work from home, boredom can still take hold, especially when I'm the only parent at home and trying to break up my long days. Often, boredom snacking leaves me feeling a little disappointed in myself and sometimes ruins my dinner, too.
There's nothing wrong with eating when you're not hungry. Still, bored snacking interferes with family meals and efforts at eating better (because boredom snacking usually involves cookies, not carrots, at least for me)!
Strategies to control boredom snacking
Luckily, I've got my boredom snacking pretty well under control these days, and here are some ways you can do it, too!
Pack a single serving of snacks
If your boredom snacking strikes at work, be prepared, lest you fall prey to the leftover birthday cake or donuts in the breakroom. Find a healthy snack that you can pack with you. Only packing a single serving will automatically help you with portion control! Snacks like nut butter and fruit, cheese and whole-grain crackers, veggies with hummus are great examples of healthy mid-day snacks.
Spend time in nature
Sometimes getting outside and moving is the perfect antidote to boredom. When you want to snack, what you're craving is probably a break, not food. A change of scenery may curb the snacking temptation. Go outdoors and walk to the mailbox or down the street if you're at home. Do the best you can when you're at work.
I would sometimes leave the office and window shop for 10 or 15 minutes when I worked on a cute little main street, but when I worked in a more urban area, I'd sometimes walk around the office building for a few minutes. It was better than nothing, and at least there were a few trees in the parking lot, so I felt like I had a tiny dose of nature. Oh, and it passed the time!
Take up a craft if you get bored at home and find yourself heading to the refrigerator! It gives your hands something to do, and you end up with something pretty, to boot! Knitting, coloring books, color by number or sticker books, quilting, felting, crocheting - the list goes on and on. The main point is to give yourself something to do other than rummaging through the cupboards.
Take a deep breath
Perhaps you're tired of hearing "take a deep breath" as the antidote to just about everything, but it really does help! Notice the way the air feels as it goes into your nose; feel the way it feels up your body; pay attention to the way it moves through your lips as you exhale.
When you do this, you're bringing yourself back to the present moment, relieving stress, and breaking up the boredom that's causing you to get the munchies.
Decide to eat 3 meals per day
This one might seem pretty extreme, but it sure helps with snacking! Of course, if you've been told by your doctor or registered dietician that you need to eat more frequent meals, ignore this one, okay? If you can swing this, though, it's a great habit to try.
It's simple: You eat as they did in the old days and have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That's it: no magic tricks, no smoke, and mirrors. If you get hungry between meals, try a cup of tea with some milk (or a dairy milk alternative). This will train you not to snack and will help you feel your hunger cues, too. If you've committed to meals instead of snacks, boredom snacking is automatically taken care of!
Avoiding bored snacking takes practice
There you have it. With some practice, you, too, can curb boredom snacking.
What are your favorite snacks? Do you have any other tips to reduce boredom snacking?
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?