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  • Writer's pictureJane Webber Nutrition

Reaching for food when bored, stressed, upset or happy?

Been there, got the T-shirt and still struggle especially when I am upset. I know my weak points so really make the effort not to go down the food or drink route.

Does my strategy work? Yes, because I know what I need to do and recognise the trigger points.

Here are a few ideas that may help you if you keep reaching for food when you hit the "bored", "stressed", "upset", or "happy" state in your daily life.

Go for a walk. Whether it’s 15 minutes or 15 kilometres getting out of the house (regardless of the weather) will be refreshing.  OK, I am lucky to have the coast and countryside on my doorstep, but if you are in the city, so maybe pop on the headphones to block out the noise!  You will burn calories but remember you can’t out-exercise a diet that needs improving


Why not find a short exercise routine on your phone?  There are loads of great short exercises available and free of charge.   Whether it’s cardio, strength, yoga or Pilates it will help you feel good and take your mind off eating



Meditate. OK, I am rubbish at this, but I sit down and listen to music instead.  I focus on my breathing and make sure my feet are firmly planted on the ground.  It will help you with your emotions and put things into perspective.



Why not do a crossword puzzle or word game?  Loads of freebies on your phone, but if you are looking to take a break from the mobile, then go for the good old-fashioned paper version.  Currently, I am doing a puzzle of the Liberty store in London.  A lovely Christmas present from a friend who knew I used to work there when I was at Art College.



Treat yourself to a bubble bath. Light some candles and relax. What a luxurious way to pamper yourself!  Yes, I know a little difficult if you don’t have a bath or you have a house full of little ones.

Phone a friend.  If you have a support buddy or a friend who understands that you are looking to eat more healthily then give them a call.


Read a book!  Find a quiet place in the house or find somewhere outside of your house.  I have been using the library or going to a small café to read. Yes, a cafe could be dangerous, but the one I go to doesn't do many cakes!


Clean the house!  Yes, I know a bit of a clique but it does help and at the same time you will have a clean house to show for your efforts.


Get out into the garden, patio or balcony!!  OK it’s winter, so the weather may not be on your side, but why not give it a go?  In my last house, I had 1.6 acres to deal so it was excellent as a diversion.


Have you stopped  doing your favourite hobby?  Why not take it up again? 

No hobby, but you have promised yourself to learn something new?  How about knitting, crocheting, playing a musical instrument, painting, etc.  I want to get back to painting in 2024, either upcycling furniture or back to canvas.

Maybe sign up for a class or group for this new hobby.


Journalling.  Now I can’t do this, but I have friends who swear by this form of self-expression.  Write about how you feel about being hungry and what it does to you.  How feeling stuffed full of food makes you feel. 

Plan, Plan, Plan. Your holiday, your week ahead, your shopping list alongside your weekly meal planning. 


What do you want to do that you haven’t done before?  They call it a “bucket list”, but maybe it should be called an “inspirational list”


Sort out your wardrobe, cupboards, attic, garage!  You can do a little each week and before you know it the house will be organised and calm and your local charity shop/recycling centre will be happy.



There are loads of other things you can do so this is just a short list of what you can do rather than eat because you are bored, stressed, upset, or happy.


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