Boredom eating and weight loss: When to give in… and when not to

Put down the cracker and nobody gets hurt,

We’re wild and wooly creatures of habit.
The tv comes on at the end of a long day, and weary eyeballs are assaulted with messages for cookies, chips and Burger Happy. Blood sugar levels have dipped since dinner, and as your eyes dart for the kitchen cupboards, the question remains: will you?
There is real hunger (discussed in yesterday’s column) and then there is eating for various reasons.
1. “I deserve this!” It’s been a long day, and your boss’ toupee fell into your cleavage. Three times. And then it winked at you and crawled under the desk. You ran over your neighbor’s prized ficus tree on the way home, and the mail man thinks picking up your mail isn’t exactly mandatory. You deserve it, right? Wrong. food isn’t about reward. To satisfy hunger is one thing– to mask problems is another entirely. While that poptart might taste great on your tongue momentarily, is it going to put to rest any issues with badly balding employers? We all deserve health and happiness.
Instead of “I deserve this” snacking, instead make a list of your positive qualities. Treat yourself to something positive and affirming. A new pair of shoes, CD or your favorite magazine with a soak in the tub (take your shoes off first) and some realization are in order. Not a second helping of baklava.
2. “I am tired” If you’re tired, you’re going to make rash decisions you’ll regret later. Blood sugar crashes have a way of making the body want to compensate for needing a burst of energy, and while your eyes are fighting to stay awake for one last episode of MythBusters (you want to see if Adam will singe his eyebrows off this week), sometimes it is best to take physical cues and hit the hay.
Instead of eating to stay awake, set Tivo and hit the hay. If your body is tired, become in tune with its signals. It’s telling you it needs the rest. While it might seem too simple to just go to best due to being tired, night time is the right time for hay-hitting. If you have an report to finish, wake up early tomorrow and get it done before the paperboy sets off the car alarms with the morning Tribune.
3. “I am bored” It is so easy to claim boredom as a reason for eating. In fact, many Americans claim snack amnesia due to mindless eating (usually brought on from being idle). Whether watching television or because of wanting a lift, there are other ways to engage in those late night urges to eat a plate of cake.
Tips for boredom:

  • Engage in a hobby that keeps fingers busy while watching television. Even if needlework and crafting isn’t your thing, you can start addressing those Christmas cards now, or organize photos in the album during the commercials.
  • During commercials, see how many push-ups or sit-ups you can do. Not only is this a fun challenge if you happen to have kids or a mate in the room, but you’re building muscle and moving.
  • Watch tv only while exercising. Whether you’re marching in place, riding a recumbent bicycle or hiking up an incline on your treadmill, keep watching television an active past time. You’ll find yourself motivated to choose better programming and you’ll reward yourself with a slimmer, healthier body as well.
  • Launder. Ironing clothes and sorting socks keeps hands out of the jelly beans and assorted candies. Not only that, but you’re finally making it through the pile of AWOL BVD’s.
  • Minitask during ads. If feeling the burn during ads isn’t your style, try taking on quick tasks during ads. Recycle the mail. Make up your next grocery list. Pay a quick bill. Tell Auntie Mabel she left her “When Chihuahuas Attack” DVD with extra footage at your house. Quick tasks are tasks which add up to being huge timesavers later, and what feels like a small, unimportant job completed, even an hour later, amounts to about 10 minutes of productive time you spent not wiping day glo Cheeto orange from your knit pants.

Remember, cravings dissipate. Spend your time making decisions based upon your needs and not what you feel you deserve. Because we all deserve health, happiness, and a bright future.

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