The more bored we are, the more we eat: why?

Verified on 22/08/2022 by Guillaume Tabbara, Journalist
Plus on s'ennuie, plus on mange : pourquoi ?
A little nibble at the end of the morning, chocolate on the way home from work or school, sweets in the evening… there are plenty of opportunities to give in when you’re at home, and especially when you’re bored! Find out why!

Are you really hungry?

There are 2 types of hunger: physiological and psychological. Physiological hunger is hunger that manifests itself through organic signals, such as a rumbling belly, a feeling of a « hole » in the stomach, weakness or even dizziness.

Psychological hunger, on the other hand, shows no signs whatsoever. Hunger is not really present, but rather a « desire to eat« , but the sensation is not physical. Psychological hunger is most often triggered by boredom or emptiness.

These sensations sometimes drive us to fill them with food, without this solution being conscious. Filling up physically then covers the psychological emptiness.

Emotional kilos

We’re looking for comfort, not satiety. The foods we choose then have an « emotional » function, and we turn to them for their comforting value: sweets, snacks, etc.

It’s rare to turn to fruit and vegetables in this situation. This is because eating sweet foods activates the brain’s reward system. The consumption of sugar promotes a good mood, boosted by the secretion of dopamine.

As for fat, researchers have shown that some of the lipids assimilated « go up » to the brain and interact with the neurons that transmit dopamine, the pleasure hormone.

How do you fight boredom hunger?

The ideal way to break the boredom/food cycle is to find other routines and learn to distract yourself in ways other than food.

To do this, think of an activity you could do simply to keep your mind and body busy. To avoid demotivating you, this activity should be quick to set up, easy and accessible, like reading a book, calling a friend, going for a walk, drinking a large glass of water, etc…

Practising meditation also frees your mind from food. Become aware of your emotional hunger and verbalize your emotions. You need to understand that: « I feel like eating because I’m bored, not because I’m hungry » .

This distance and awareness will enable you to take control of your choices and not give in to impulses. Finally, try to keep a schedule of your meals and snacks. This will prevent you from being caught off guard and indulging in anything and everything.

Similarly, it’s a good idea to shop with a full belly, to avoid compulsive purchases triggered by hunger.

If the urges are too strong, the weight gain too real or the diet too unbalanced, you should seek professional help.