Why Do I Eat When I'm Bored? Understanding the Connection Between Boredom and Overeating

Have you ever found yourself rummaging through your fridge or pantry when you’re feeling bored, even though you’re not really hungry? If so, you’re not alone. Many people turn to food as a way to fill the void of boredom, and it’s a habit that can be hard to break. But why do we eat when we’re bored, and what can we do to curb this behavior?

In this article, we’ll explore the connection between boredom and overeating, and provide practical tips for how to combat it.

The Science Behind Boredom Eating

Boredom eating is a common phenomenon, but it’s not entirely clear why we do it. Some theories suggest that food provides a form of stimulation and entertainment when we’re feeling uninterested or lethargic. Others suggest that boredom eating is simply a habit we’ve developed over time, and that it’s reinforced by the pleasure centers in our brain that are activated when we eat.

Whatever the reason, research has shown that people who eat when they’re not hungry are more likely to be overweight or obese, and that boredom eating is a risk factor for developing binge eating disorder. This underscores the importance of understanding why we eat when we’re bored, and what we can do to break this habit.

Strategies for Combatting Boredom Eating

Thankfully, there are a number of strategies that can help curb boredom eating. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Distract Yourself: When you feel the urge to eat out of boredom, try distracting yourself with an activity that you enjoy. This could be anything from reading a book to taking a walk to calling a friend. The key is to find something that occupies your mind and keeps you from focusing on food.

  2. Drink Water: One reason we sometimes eat when we’re bored is because we’re actually thirsty. If you find yourself craving something to eat, try drinking a glass of water instead. This can help quench your thirst and help you feel full, which may curb your desire to snack.

  3. Have Healthy Snacks on Hand: If you do find yourself needing a snack, make sure you have healthy options available. This could be anything from fresh fruit to raw vegetables to air-popped popcorn. By having these options on hand, you’ll be less likely to opt for junk food or other unhealthy choices.

  4. Practice Mindful Eating: When you do eat, try to be mindful of the experience. Pay attention to the taste, texture, and smell of your food, and savor each bite. This can help you feel more satisfied and less likely to overeat.

Addressing the Root Causes of Boredom Eating

While the strategies above can be helpful in the moment, it’s important to address the root causes of boredom eating if you want to break the habit for good. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Identify Your Triggers: Make a list of the circumstances that tend to lead to boredom eating. Do you snack when you’re watching TV? Do you head to the kitchen when you’re stressed? Once you identify your triggers, you can start to develop alternative behaviors to replace them.

  2. Manage Stress: Many people turn to food as a way of coping with stress. If stress is a trigger for your boredom eating, try developing other coping mechanisms that are healthier, such as exercise, meditation, or deep breathing.

  3. Find Joy in Other Areas of Your Life: Boredom eating may be a sign that you’re not finding enough joy or fulfillment in other areas of your life. Try pursuing hobbies or activities that make you feel energized and engaged, whether that’s painting, dancing, or hiking.


In conclusion, boredom eating is a habit that many people struggle with, but it’s not impossible to overcome. By understanding the connection between boredom and overeating, and by implementing practical strategies for combatting the urge to snack, you can break this habit and develop a healthier relationship with food.

Remember, it’s not about depriving yourself of pleasure; it’s about finding pleasure in other areas of your life that don’t involve mindless snacking.