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Why do we eat when we’re board? Food can certainly be exciting, but that honestly depends on the type of food. Not every meal can be your favorite meal, or a new and exotic dish that wows the senses. Sometimes, it’s the same ole stuff we have in the pantry. So, why is that we reach for the mundane snacks when we can’t seem to find something to do? According to Pacific Medical Centers, we reach for food when we’re bored for an instant, albeit brief, boost of dopamine. For millions of Americans young and old, this can be a considerable hinderance to our overall health.

Food and Boredom

Boredom, a new affliction in the span of human history, is what we feel when our minds aren’t stimulated enough. There are dozens of causes for boredom. For example, a lack of rest can make it seem like time is slowing down, or too much routine and not enough excitement can make things seem dull. The solution… joy and happiness, i.e., dopamine.

Simple, right?

Well, not quite. We can’t just naturally up the amount of dopamine in our brains, so we must turn to things that can. For millions, sugar is the perfect answer. Processed sugar causes dopamine to spike, making us feel a heightened sense of pleasure, but the negative side effects often outweigh that feeling. Too much sugar can lead to depression, poor health, and risk of heart disease and heart attack.

The truthful answer is to find other ways to reward ourselves, create dopamine naturally, and fend off boredom at the source… our brains.

How to Fight Boredom

Like previously stated, there are dozens of causes for boredom, but it only occurs in one place… our heads. Boredom is the result of an inactive mind, so the way to fight it and better our health is to stay mentally active. Cravings and boredom go hand-in-hand, knowing how to spot a craving can help you fend off boredom by doing something that needs your attention.

Fight boredom by:

  • Adding some fun into the routine (i.e., seeing a movie, going to dinner, working out)
  • Finding a new passion or learning a new skill
  • Socialize

Retirement is a great adventure, but we’re humans who occasionally get bored. Spark some joy by doing something fun, no matter what it may be, and reward yourself with something other than food. Doing so can help you maintain your health and stay mentally active.

Follow the Council for Retirement Security for more tips and tricks on how to avoid sugar, stay physically and mentally active, and achieve better health in retirement.