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 🙂

13 thoughts on “Hungry and Bored? According to Science, It’s a Thing”

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  1. Charmaine Challenger says:

    Let’s say I try to keep healthy snacks within reach. Not always successful. 😉

  2. Aditya says:

    Happens with me everytime!!

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  4. Irene says:

    I don’t really know how quarantine worked for me but to be honest, now that I am at home I am eating more healthy than any other time of my life. When I feel like I have to snack I do and I eat something healthy. And maybe staying productive is the key for me 😊

    1. Irene says:

      Oh, and doing Cassey’s workouts is EVERYTHING for me!!!

  5. Cristina Ricci says:

    Hi Cassey! Thank you, your words describe exactly what I’ve been going through for some months now! And definitely… I’m trying to practice in mindfulness with the help of an expert. She has told me there are 3 kinds of food satisfaction: tongue, stomach and body; they come one after the other and it’s useful to recognize them. It’s hard to fight bad habits, but I think it’s the right direction!

  6. nellikiss says:

    I drink a lot of water and lately I started keeping that in mind, paying attention to how much I actually drink. I try to work out 5-6 times a week and I usually take an evening walk with my dog. I am trying my best avoiding snack, or if I really want to have a snack I either have fruits and nuts or popcorn. Tryint to keep it as healthy as possible. Sometimes it is difficult because my bf is very snacky. 😀

  7. Vanessa says:

    Drinking loads of water, like literally chugging from my starry Popflex Active water bottle, helps. Cuz I was so dehydrated and my body was signaling to me that I was and I thought I was hungry.

    Working out 5x a week helps me not get bored. I work out indoors and sometimes I do an evening walk. It gives me the mental stimulation I need to distract me.

    Lastly, I don’t buy snacks anymore. At least not right now. I used to treat “healthy” packaged snacks like they were calorie-free but I realized they were just as addicted and causing weight gain as ANY snack. I don’t buy snacks anymore because “out of sight, out of mind”. If I actually want a snack, I make it from scratch (like homemade almond butter cups).

  8. I think definitely the last part on self-forgiveness if you do give in is the key takeaway! Thank you so much for that. Coming from food addiction, this really, really will resonate with someone. I would never wish upon a food addiction to anyone.

  9. Lulu Jean says:

    Trying not snack while you’re stuck at home is hard. I’ve been keeping a list of food I eat and paying attention to my calorie intake. I’m also trying to include more protein in my diet to feel fuller. And also try to occupy my time away from the kitchen with working out, drawing, cleaning, and a whole lot of Animal Crossing.

  10. G L says:

    I cope by doing your workouts! during my math lesson today i got up and went to the pantry no less than five times to get some junk food, but i didn’t eat any. Instead i came upstairs to do a workout! thank you so much for doing these calendars, they help me so much. Love you <3

  11. Emily says:

    I have been SOoooOOo snacky!!! I think it’s because working from home, I’m so much closer to the refrigerator! But this week I’ve made sure to stock up on healthier alternatives than my usual cookies!
    (Okay but I do have an emergency cookie stash just in case of a cookie emergency! haha) Xx

    1. You should always be prepared for a cookie emergency. You never know when they might strike. 🙂