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Owning my bad habits: Eating while bored

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  April 2, 2013 07:00 AM

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By now you know that I love to workout.

Love it.

I love to push myself.

I love to work hard.

I love to try new things.

What don't I love? I don't love some nagging bad habits I'm still trying to shake (and I have a few.)

When I started writing this blog, I told you it would not be all sunshine and puppy dogs all the time. My posts are about me: the good, bad, ugly, healthy, and unhealthy.

What falls under that last category of unhealthy?

Let's start with my eating habits.

I eat real food. So that's good. I don't eat much that's processed anymore (maybe the occasional bagel once every blue moon or waffles some weekend mornings), but for the most part my food looks the way it did coming out of the ground or off of a tree.

What's unhealthy about that? Nothing, as far as I know. That's good. Gold star for me there.

The bad part is the emotional side of my diet. Hi. I'm an emotional eater, and I know it.

I don't eat when I'm stressed (that's where all the coffee/tea/planks come in). Nope. My issue is eating while bored.

I asked our nutrition blogger, Joan Salge Blake whether this is something she hears often in her work, and what suggestions she has for battling it. Here's what she said in an e-mail:

This is VERY common. The key is to "find life outside the kitchen." Rather than releasing your stress by eating, do something physically active, ie, go for a walk, run, clean out your car ... this way you'll be training yourself to release the stress through movement rather eating. When you are bored, stay out of the kitchen and keep busy. Call a friend, run errands ... doing anything that will keep you away from food.

The main reason I starting doing #plankADay (other than wanting abs of steel) and #100pushups was to give myself something to do in those moments when I'm bored. It gives me something to do -- other than eat.

It's also why I signed up for so many races, and why I am training for a triathlon. I basically have a hard time sitting still (even at work chained to a computer I stand up all day!).

But in those rare moments I do sit and "relax," it is almost as if I don't know what to do with myself. And then I wander to the fridge ...

This act of eating out of boredom happens at a very specific time of day: After everyone goes to bed and it's just me and the quiet of the house (I don't have TV -- *GASP* -- that's for another post).

It is when I finally stop moving, and people stop needing things from me that I am at my most vulnerable to eat while bored.

I know this is a terrible, awful, bad, bad habit. I know it. I'm trying like heck to combat it. But I'm very aware of it, so that's a good start. And, as I said, I've established some replacement activities for whenever I find myself primed to eat out of boredom. What have I been doing instead?

Here's my list (you know I love lists):
I call/text friends
That's right. If I'm talking to someone I feel like I cannot shove food in my mouth since I have so many things I want to talk to the friend on the other end about. Talking on the phone with a mouthful is rude, so I don't do it. Usually by the end of the conversation I will have forgotten my desire to eat out of boredom and have moved on to something else.

I write
I am a big fan of making up sayings for activities I do every day (I also make up nicknames for everyone I know). So, I call this act of writing instead of mindlessly eating "feeding my brain." For me, writing is one of those acts that helps me keep sane and grounded. So, when I find myself sitting down for a hot second and feeling bored, I bust out my journal or computer. Some of the best things I've written (in my opinion) have come from "feeding my brain" instead of feeding my face with junk food.

I drink
Not booze. Water. This is a big one for me. If I really feel the need to have something, I generally try to drink water first. It helps me check to see if I am, indeed, actually hungry, or just thirsty or bored. I'd say nine times out of 10 I no longer want to boredom-eat after I've had water.

What do you do to combat your own bad habits? What are your bad health habits?

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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