A grumbling stomach is a common sign that you’re hungry, but if you wait too long to feed that hunger, you may wind up with a case of the hangries. When this happens, there can be a change in your personality and a dip in your energy level. Or you may even resemble a 3-year old in the midst of a tantrum.
Being hangry results in you not only being physically hungry, a physiological response that occurs when it’s been a few hours since you’ve last eaten and your body signals that it needs to be refueled. When you go too long without food and your blood glucose levels dip too low, it can result in psychological and emotional responses that range from anger and irritability to being snippy or sad. You may find it hard to make decisions, concentrate or be “nice” to other people. You may also feel tired, have a headache or be dizzy.
Some people are more prone to getting hangry than others but the best way to avoid a case of the hangries is to follow these tips:
Refuel every 4 – 5 hours. It makes sense that you should space your meals and snacks throughout the day so you never go too long without food, but then life sometimes gets in the way. You get caught up with work or get busy with the kids and you forget to eat, even if your body is telling you it’s hungry. If you go too long without food, your blood sugar can dip too low and this can cause you to feel tired, irritable, anxious or angry.
Keep a stash of healthy snacks. If you often find you just don’t have time to grab a healthy meal, keep a stash of ready-to-eat snacks around that offer a combination of healthy protein, fat and carbohydrates. If you grab a candy bar or another snack filled with sugar, you’ll just be putting off the hangries for a short time once your blood sugar spikes and then crashes again. Instead try a mix of nuts and dried fruit or whole-grain crackers and peanut butter.
Eat enough fiber, protein and healthy fat each day. Fiber keeps you feeling fuller longer and also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which keeps your energy steadier over time. Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber a day. You can hit that mark by eating 2 servings of fruit, veggies with meals and choosing foods like whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Protein and fat delay stomach emptying and also keep you feeling fuller longer. Aim to eat some lean protein and healthy fat with every meal or snack in addition to complex carbohydrates.
Avoid sugary drinks and foods. Simple sugars can leave you feeling hungry, tired and irritable soon after you have finished eating as your blood sugar spikes and then plummets. Opt for water or unsweetened beverages to stay hydrated. Skip the bagel or donut at breakfast. Instead choose foods at meals and snack time that contain a combination of protein, fat and carbs.
Here a few snack ideas to help you beat the hangries throughout your busy day:
|Instead of reaching for:||
|· A candy bar||· A mix of nuts and dried fruit|
|· A bag of chips||· Hummus and veggie dippers|
|· A bagel with butter||· Whole-grain toast with peanut butter|
|· Cheese-flavored crackers||· String cheese and cherry tomatoes|
|· A regular soda||· Low-fat chocolate milk|
|· A sugary coffee drink||· A Greek yogurt and fruit smoothie|