Hungry and Bored? According to Science, It’s a Thing


“I’m bored in the house and I’m in the house bored…”

…and HUNGRY. All the time.

Isn’t it weird that we constantly want snacks when we’re bored? Why does that happen?! Now that I’m stuck at home all the time I am extra snacky. AHH!

And sometimes it seems like no matter how much I eat, I’m not satisfied. What’s up with that?

Of course, I needed answers. And guess what? It’s really a thing! YEP. A real, scientific thing.

Is it all in your… brain?

If you eat meals or snacks at the same time every day, it’s pretty likely that your brain will expect food around those times. Your tummy will start to grumble a little even if you’re not hungry.

It works the same way with your mood! If you order pizza every time you’re sad, chances are you’re gonna crave pizza every time you’re feeling down.

That means feeling hungry when you’re bored probably isn’t coincidence, but habit. The pros actually call it conditioning. Basically to your brain, bored might just signal snack time. This isn’t good if you’re suddenly bored a lot more often.

glass bowl of popcorn grey background

On a more sciency level…

Oooh we’re really diving deep now!

There’s a little chemical called dopamine in the brain that puts you in a good mood. It’s called a “reward” chemical because it’s usually released when you feel satisfied or accomplished. And you guys, food is a STRONG reward for your brain.

When you’re bored and you eat something delicious, your body releases dopamine. Suddenly, you’re not feeling so blah!

And guess what? JUNK FOOD is known to trigger more dopamine release.  I guess that’s why I don’t usually crave kale when I’m feeling bored and snacky.

Basically, “bored eating” is a form of emotional eating! 

I never really thought of it that way, did you? But it totally makes sense!

When we’re bored out of our minds, we eat to cope. Finding a yummy snack breaks up the time and gets us out of that bored blahness. We feel better, which is why it’s so easy to make bored snacking a habit.

eating glazed donut on white plate on wooden table with flowers

How do you know if you’re ACTUALLY hungry?

Okay. Here’s where we pay attention and work on a little thing called mindfulness. Next time you feel a snack attack coming on, pause for a sec before you gaze into the pantry.

If you’ve been sitting for awhile, do something active for a few minutes like walking or folding that laundry you keep ignoring. Then, see if you’re still hungry.

Hydration check! How much water have you had while you’ve been bingeing Netflix or scrolling through TikTok? Go get some water, wait a little bit, and then see how you feel.

What have you already eaten today? If you graze on junk all day, you probably won’t feel satisfied (or great in general). Focus on foods with protein, healthy fat and fiber to stay energized and full longer.

Tune into your feelings. Being bored can trigger other feelings like anxiety and sadness. Lack of stimulation and routine can really take a toll ESPECIALLY in these days of quarantine. If you know your hunger is tied to your feelings, think of some other ways to cope. You know I use working out as my outlet but really, anything productive works! Things like journaling, meditation or calling a friend are great too.

If you think it through, get up and move and drink some water, and you’re still hungry, eat! You’ll feel better longer if you go for something healthy.

If you give into the snack attack, don’t give yourself a hard time. 

No judgement zone!

Because sometimes emotional eating (or in this case, eating because you’re straight up BORED) is gonna win. AND THAT’S OKAY.

Practice the habit of mindfulness and tune into true hunger. You totally have the ability to change your habits over time… but give yourself TIME. I’m gonna work on this too!

How do you handle eating when you’re bored? Do you keep healthy snacks within reach? Do you switch your focus to something productive? I wanna know! Tell me in the comments 🙂

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