First, let’s get down to the true definition.
Hangry: bad-tempered and irritable as a result of hunger. (And yes, it’s an official word in the dictionary.)
The main cause of hanger is unsteady blood sugar, which means low glucose in your bloodstream. It’s affected nearly everyone at some point. Sometimes we even intentionally let it affect us: I’m talking to you, fasters and restrictors.
If you have outrageous and constant signs of hanger, be sure to regularly check your blood sugar levels—if they drop too low (below 70 mg/dL), it can signal hypoglycemia. In which case, it’s best to check in with your doctor.
Our blood sugar increases based on the quantity and frequency that we consume carbohydrates. This means that when we go too long without carbs, our blood sugar dips into the hanger zone. You’ve done it … we’ve all done it. We wake up, get ready for the day. We either skip breakfast intentionally because we’re fasting or we skip it unintentionally because we’re in a hurry. We finally stop mid-morning and grab a piece of fruit or better yet a coffee. Our blood sugar is then heightened from the carbs alone, and instead of providing longevity, it spikes and dips. Then, since we’re trying to “be healthy,” we prepare a green salad for lunch. Hello again, low blood sugar, since most likely there weren’t enough carbs in the meal. At this point, we’re just living on adrenaline.
Then when we get home and start thinking about dinner, we become savages and eat everything in the house only to make our blood sugar even more unstable and add to the vicious cycle of hanger. We’ve all been in this scenario (more times than we’d like to admit).
To encourage healthier eating habits throughout the day, below I’m sharing how to hang up your hanger streak.
Hanger is truly something we can avoid when we’re educated on the cause, which has an easy fix if you’re dedicated to making simple lifestyle adjustments. This is truly the one thing that can change overnight. One study has even shown that relationships have a better chance of making it if both partners manage their hanger.
Hanger isn’t only short-term anger and irritation. It affects your hormones as well, which are the keepers of our mood swings. So eating for stable blood sugar actually gives your relationship better odds of survival, too! Think about it, who wants to deal with a hungry, moody person all the time?
Besides just the actual moodiness of hanger, in the long term, it can also cause some serious issues as well. I mentioned the impact of hormones, and I’m guessing your mind automatically went to reproductive hormones, and you’re not wrong. But the biggest risk factor of extended hanger is on your insulin production and release. This can potentially cause insulin-related issues, which are complicated to heal from.
As I said, this is something you can change and improve overnight, especially if you haven’t caused any long-term issues. Incorporate these dietary shifts right away.
Tips to avoid and overcome hanger:
1. Eat within an hour of waking up. The only exception to this is if you’re going straight to work out. Then you can wait and eat after you exercise.
2. Eat every four hours after that and throughout the day. Our blood sugar starts to dip back down in the third hour, and by the fourth hour, you could be getting into hanger mode.
3. Always combine your macros when you eat. Gone are the days of grabbing just an apple or banana. Combine them with nut butter, so you’re not spiking your blood sugar only for it to just dip back down. Remember your portions: 50% carbs, 20% protein, and 30% fat every time you eat. Not only do you want to include macro-balanced meals, but quality matters too. Fill up with colorful foods that include fiber like green veggies.
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