How to Stop Eating When Bored – Am I Hungry or Bored?

Written by: Shreya Manerkar – MA (Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : February 23, 2023

“Am I hungry or bored?” – you ask yourself as you search your kitchen for a midnight snack. Neither you have been feeling sleepy nor do you have any work to complete. As you find another bag of chips, you realize you have been eating snacks throughout the day. It makes you wonder how to stop eating when you are bored. You realize it is not healthy, but you are unable to stop.

This article will give you a brief overview of boredom eating. Following this, you will understand if you eat when hungry or bored and why we boredom eat. Lastly, we will explain how it affects your life and how to stop eating every time you are bored.

In this article, you will come across these key terms such as bored, hunger, and stress.

  • Bored – When you have nothing to do, you feel bored. However, some people may have things to do, but still, feel bored. Others may get fed up of doing the same thing again and again. Hence, feeling bored is a very personal feeling.
  • Hunger – The sensation we feel when we want to eat food.
  • Stress – In simple words, stress is a feeling of emotional or physical strain. People can feel stress because of an event or thought that makes them angry or anxious.


Chapter 1:

Why Do I Eat Every Time I Am Bored? Or Am I Hungry?

People learn to associate food with emotions. For example, when people feel sad, they eat sweets or high-carb food such as pizzas, French fries, ice creams, chocolate, and so on. These are types of comfort food.

In the same way, your mind will also associate boredom with snacking. Therefore, every time we are have nothing to do our mind reminds us to go grab a snack. Just as with any other habit, eating when we have nothing to do is also a learned behavior. Hence, after a point it becomes difficult to stop eating when bored.

Notice if your stomach is growling, you are getting headaches, and feeling weak or tired. This is your body’s signal that you need to have food. Next time make a note of when you have an urge to eat something even after you have had a full meal. To understand the difference between boredom and hunger, we need to see the situation in which we eat. At breakfast, lunch, or dinner if you feel like eating something, that is because you are hungry. However, if you are watching television and want to eat something, this is eating out of boredom. Unfortunately, it becomes difficult to stop eating especially since you are bored.

Chapter 2:

How Does This Affect Your Life?

There are various reasons why boredom eating can be unhealthy. Here is a list of possible effects it has on your lifestyle. Hence, if you are bored, try to stop eating on unhealthy snacks.

  • If we eat at odd hours, we may skip regular meals such as breakfast, lunch, or dinner
  • Moreover, constantly eating snacks or sweets can be unhealthy for the body
  • By skipping important meals, we may not get the desired nutrition
  • Our mind associates certain food with certain emotions. For example, we connect pastries or chips with birthday parties. It makes us happy. Hence, we enjoy eating certain snacks more than our regular food.
  • Once your mind has made the association between food and boredom, even if you want to stop, you will still eat when bored.
  • This connection forms a false sense of excitement, and hence we keep eating out of boredom. Therefore, it becomes difficult to stop eating when bored.
  • This habit eventually turns into emotional and stress eating. This means that we eat whenever we feel any negative emotion.

Chapter 3:

How to Stop Eating When Bored?

We are all guilty of grabbing a bag of chips or a box of chocolates while watching our favorite shows. Moreover, when we overeat, we start feeling worse about our decision. There are, however, many ways in which you can stop eating when you are bored. Here are some simple tips you can follow:

Plan a Healthy Diet

Many times, we snack because we don’t eat a healthy diet. If we eat healthy snacks throughout the day, we won’t have the urge to snack while we are bored. Plan a balanced diet that consists of all important food groups. When we are full more often, we are less likely to eat at odd hours.

Note Down What You Eat

The first step to stopping eating when bored is to be aware of what you are currently eating. A good way to do this is to keep a food journal. In this journal write when you feel like eating the most. Along with noting down when you eat, write down how you felt before and after you ate.

Maintaining a food journal will tell you what changes you need to make in your diet. It will also show you if you are eating out of boredom, stress, or anxiety.

Eat From a Plate

Another good way to stop eating when you feel bored is to practice portion control. Instead of directly eating from a bag of snacks, take some on a plate. Eat slowly so that you can stretch the snack over a longer period of time.

Understand Your Emotions

When we are unable to control our emotions, we seek external help to calm us down. When you can’t keep calm in a stressful situation, you will eat your favorite food to cope with these challenges.

Instead of always finding comfort in food, find healthy alternatives. You can learn to cope with challenging situations by following a healthy diet, exercising, meditating, and doing yoga. Learn to focus on self-care and take time out for yourself.

Notice the Difference between Hungry or Bored

Your body will always tell you when it is hungry or when it is bored. Observe and listen to these signs. The biggest difference between hungry and bored – is cravings. Are you suddenly craving a pizza at 12 am? Is it right before a deadline? Answering yes to these questions will give insight into the type of hunger.

Chapter 4:

Is It Okay to Eat Out of Boredom?

While all of us indulge in our favorite cravings from time to time, we should be mindful not to overeat. One of the biggest problems with boredom eating is putting on weight. People eat junk food, put on weight, feel guilt and eat more junk food. The cycle never stops.

So, if you wish to break this cycle, you need to first make a conscious effort to work on your emotions. It is helpful to step away from unhealthy patterns and change them. For this, self-help courses work wonders. You can check out our course “Binge Eating Disorder” if you feel you cannot stop eating when you are bored.

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