Why Do We Eat Out of Boredom?


I bet most of us can relate to eating when we feel bored. Whether this occurs when holed up at home during a snow storm or being forced to sit at a very boring lunch meeting, we often find ourselves reaching for food as some sort of gratification. So the question: Are we eating because it is pleasurable OR are we eating to escape the boredom?

Here is a study that addressed this: Two groups of people were exposed to a very repetitive, boring video that repeated over and over. One group had access to M&M chocolates and the other group had access to a shocking device that administered a non-dangerous, yet somewhat painful shock. Although obviously the group with the M&Ms turned to eating in higher frequency, there was still an increase usage of the shock device in the group exposed to that “diversion”.

The researchers concluded that we most likely turn to boredom-eating to escape the monotony as opposed to being driven to eat by thoughts of pleasure. Clearly, the people self-administering the shocks received no pleasure from that boredom-breaker, yet they used the device.

So, what does this mean for anyone on a long-term weight control effort? When you are in situations where/when boredom is setting in, make certain there are no derailing food items available to you. As much as I despise the use of those idiot phones, you are better off playing some video game or checking cat videos on Youtube than resorting to eating Snickers. Also, try to reduce as best as possible being placed in boring situations.

During your long-term weight control journey do not allow boredom to translate into making poor eating choices. And, for anyone out there looking for advice on how to avoid boring situations, here is one: Do NOT watch golf or bowling on TV (oops…just offended lots of my golfing patients out there!)

Author
Dr. Robert Posner One of the world’s leading medical weight loss researchers, Robert Posner, MD, operates his state-of-the-art weight loss clinic, Serotonin Plus, in the heart of Burke, Virginia, in the suburban Washington area.

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