Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Healthiest Boredom Foods
Are you a boredom eater?
Are you unable to watch TV without munching on something? Is the excitement of a road trip partially due to potential gas station snacks? Do you use food to pass the time at an especially boring job? How about when you can't sleep at night, do you find yourself perusing the refrigerator?
Be honest now...
That's what I thought.
I'll admit, boredom eating is a tough habit to break, or as I explained in this post, Psychological Aspects of Weight Loss, a tough habit to cover up. But while you're trying to break it no sense it completely blowing it any healthy progress you've already made.
First of all, we all know it's never a good idea to eat any time other than when you're hungry, but c'mon, let's be realistic here. Sometimes you're going to be in positions where the option of taking a break to get something to eat is basically non-existent. I understand what you're going through; I drive around in a little truck for 10 hours a day, remember?
So what exactly makes a good boredom food? Basically, something that takes up a lot of time while also adding up to a fairly low calorie count, and a really good boredom food combines the physical activity of destroying something with comfort of getting a treat for your troubles. Something small, where either your mouth or hands are busy the entire time, taking care of the fidgety part of the brain that so desperately needs to be satisfied. In general, you want something that is the opposite of potato chips. Think about it, you can scarf them by the handful and they are essentially a collection of everything that's bad for you; calories, fat, oil, sodium, preservatives...(No, I'm not going to allow you some leeway here by saying 'Hey, at least the potato part is good for you'. There's no leeway. They're horrible for you, accept it and move on.).
That may have hurt a little bit, but I promise, it's going to get better. So here's a list of foods much more appropriate for some mindless boredom snacking. I'm not condoning it, but it's better than the alternatives.
1.) Low Sodium Sunflower Seeds in the Shell
Sunflower seeds are a fantastic boredom food. Besides the fact they're loaded with Vitamin E (which in short means they protect against free radicals, among other things), they are rich with specific anti-oxidants in charge of lowering blood sugar levels, as well as protein to satisfy that little bit of hunger you may or may not be experiencing.
Plus a rather large back usually has roughly 2.5 servings, at 190 calories per serving. So even if you down the whole package (which you will probably only make it through half) you won't be seriously destroying your day's healthy eating habits. Not too bad if I say so myself. Oh and get the low sodium kind. Trust me, you won't miss the extra salt.
Cherries are packed with Vitamin C and fiber, but they're especially useful as a night-time snack since they've been rumored to help regulate your sleep cycle. They're sweet, tart, firm and juicy, and 3 cups (let's be honest, boredom snacking never really gives way to portion control) contain only about 230 calories. Win-win, if you ask me.
You want to buy them in the pod (as soybeans), then steam them with a little salt and pepper and let them cool. Then if you need to snack on something while watching television, simply focus on getting the beans out of the pod. I'm not even going to go into the nutritional value (it's ridiculously high, google it) and 1.5 cups of shelled edamame beans come to about 330 calories.
4.) String Cheese
This one isn't so much trickery as it is just plain ol' fun to take your time. I know very few people who scarf string cheese in a few bites; most play with it like they did in their elementary school cafeteria, making it last as long as possible. So bring out your inner child and appreciate string cheese for the prize it is: roughly 150 calcium filled calories of glorious time-consuming wonderment.
5.) Pomegranate Seeds
A perfect example of time-consuming and low-calorie, pomegranate seeds are perfect for Sunday movie night. They're just sweet and tart enough to keep you coming back for more, but considering the work you have to do to get to each individual seed, even a whole pomegranate (a "whopping" 105 calories) will probably last you through an entire two hour movie. Plus they're a great source of potassium and vitamin C, meaning they're perfect for a day relaxing sore muscles.
So feel free to go to town with any of these options, sans the guilt and negative side effects. What healthy time-consuming foods do you eat?