Keep healthy snacks nearby during downtimes: People consume more junk—chips, sweets, fast food—when they’re bored, researchers at a meeting of the British Psychological Society reported. Also reported: During the presentation of the study, 197 lbs of chips, doughnuts, and Big Macs were consumed by audience members.
Researchers conducted two studies to see the effects of boredom on food choices. In the first study, researchers asked 52 participants to complete a questionnaire on their food preferences before and after repeatedly copying the same group of letters. In the second study, researchers asked 45 participants to watch a boring or funny video, during which a buffet of healthy and unhealthy snacks were provided. The bowls were weighed before and after each trial to see how much of each snack was eaten.
Results from both prove people are more likely to reach for junk food after completing a boring task.
“These results are in line with previous research [and] strengthen the theory that boredom is related to low levels of the stimulating brain chemical dopamine and that people try to boost this by eating fat and sugar if they cannot alleviate their boredom in some other way," lead study author Sandi Mann said in a press release. In short: “Bored people do not eat nuts.”
Feel like you can't stop eating or always fail to make the right food choices when you're at work or home on the weekend?
First, make sure you're getting adequate sleep, you're not skipping meals, you're drinking plenty of water, and start being mindful of your settings. Are you eating in front of the TV (or computer), out with friends all the time, and/or when you're super stressed? All of these factors test your will to eat healthy. Instead of gorging mindlessly, go for a quick walk; exercise can curb hunger.
Also, try these 5 Mind Tricks for Eating Healthy Food—aside from making fruits and vegetables more readily available and easy to grab, see how you can shift your cravings and bad behaviors.