Should we get excited by the 'Boredom Diet'?

  • August 24, 2013 - 2:00 AM

Should we get excited for the ‘Boredom Diet’?

The so-called “Boredom Diet” was in the news again recently. This diet is based on the assumption that when food is exciting, we eat more. So — at least theoretically — making food more boring should make us eat less and, therefore, lose weight.

A recent report on a major network referred to a 2011 study as support for the Boredom Diet. In this study, half of a group of 32 women were given a macaroni-and-cheese meal each day for five days while they worked on a computer task. The other study participants had the same meal and the same task — but only once per week for five weeks.

The daily mac-and-cheese eaters ate less by the end of the period. The other group ate slightly more.

Sounds good, right?

Not so fast. Any diet with a quirky name should be carefully studied, and this is no exception.

There are a number of problems with the notion that boredom leads to weight loss:

• Real boredom leads to a desire to escape the boredom. That’s why when you say, “I’m bored,” it’s said as a complaint, not because you’re celebrating the feeling. So, why would anyone think that making someone bored with something (especially eating) would get them to stick with the boring meal? We can’t assume that the study subjects were bored (although it does sound rather boring). Besides, even if they were bored, they knew that the study would end shortly and they could go back to their normal lives.

• The way to keep eating nutritious food is to get excited about it — not be bored by it. Being excited about eating something that’s good for you doesn’t lead to overeating. Instead, you feel more satisfied with reasonable portions and look forward to eating quality food again the next time you’re hungry.

• The 2011 study tested subjects for only a short time. If eating boring food really makes people eat less and control their weight for a lifetime, you should expect that the bored souls would stick with it long enough to lose a significant amount of weight. We don’t know this to be true from such a study.

• If you enjoy a particular meal such as a quality breakfast cereal with berries, for example, and you feel like eating it repeatedly, there’s nothing wrong with that. But in this case, it works because you like it enough that you don’t find it boring. If, at some point, the meal becomes boring, you can bet you’ll want to change it.

So, if you try to bore yourself into losing weight, you’re likely be disappointed. Human beings are pleasure-seekers. It makes more sense to find nutritious meals that you find tasty. If you get bored with them, then seek other foods that excite you.

The Boredom Diet? If you’re a wise consumer, you won’t fall for this one.


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