You just lashed out at your roommate for asking you to pass the TV remote. They haven’t done anything annoying, so what gives? Chances are you’re hangry – a combination of hunger and anger.
If you haven’t eaten for a while, your blood sugar becomes low. When this happens, cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline are released to try and raise your blood sugar again. These hormones could also lead to feelings like annoyance and irritability.
In fact, researchers from Ohio State University in America conducted a study surrounding the phenomenon of feeling hangry in relationships. They found that if a participant’s blood sugar level was lower, they were more aggressive towards their partner.
In addition, a hormone called Neuropeptide Y also plays a role in creating the hungry feeling and is also linked to aggression.
So, when does hanger kick in?
Hanger kicks in whenever your blood sugar is low. The lower it is, the hangrier (more irritable) you’ll be. The feelings of hunger and irritation is your body’s way of telling you to eat food, right now. Sadly, when this happens, your body tells you to eat something that will spike your sugar quickly, and before you know it, you’re chomping on biscuits, chocolate and cakes – all treats that will inevitably lead to a crash which will make you cranky again.
Instead of sugary treats, reach for healthier snacks that will help your body maintain your sugar levels. Try these:
Nibble to sustain your sugar levels:
Snacking on nuts is a great way to keep your cortisol levels low. Good options are pistachios, almonds, walnuts and cashews. Don’t eat more than a dozen of nuts per day though as you can wrack up your daily calories.
Nosh on berries
When the hanger kicks in, a dose of Vitamin C could help ease the stress and agitation. Choose strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries for a boost.
Spread some avocado
Snacking on a few slices of avo could help as it contains B vitamins. Research has shown that B vitamins can ease anxiety. Avocado is rich in potassium and monounsaturated fat which keeps you fuller for longer and lowers your blood pressure.
Have a slice
Good old peanut butter and bread can keep the hunger at bay. Peanut butter contains healthy fats and protein which keeps you fuller for longer. Choose a slice of wholegrain bread with one and a half to two tablespoons of (sugar-free) peanut butter. If you’re cutting carbs, swap the bread for celery sticks.
Indulge in dark chocolate
Research has shown that cacao could help regulate blood sugar levels as it contains a flavonoid called epicatechin. The easiest way to add cacao to your diet is to munch on dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains more cacao than regular chocolate and is the ultimate endorphin boosting food. Choose dark chocolate with 70% or more cacao. Eat it in moderation and remember to check the sugar content.
Sip on green tea
If you’re especially hangry, green tea could ease your frazzled state. Green tea is packed with theanine, which increases the relaxation alpha waves your body produces.