What happens when a hungry tummy combines with anger? You get hangry. Being hangry can lead to unhealthy snacking and overconsumption of food.
Hangry can happen to anyone. Feeling irritable and short-tempered is a natural result of hunger. In fact, it’s a part of our brain chemistry. The same mechanisms that manage our feelings of hunger also have an impact on our mood and emotions.
When blood glucose levels fall, our body tells us that it’s time to eat and we feel hungry. Falling blood glucose levels also affect our brains, specifically areas of the brain involved in emotional regulation (1). With a reduced ability for our brains to keep emotions in check, it’s easy to see how feeling hungry and losing our temper can go hand in hand.
Even if you’re trying to eat less to manage your weight, there’s no need to put yourself at risk of feeling hangry. The trick is to plan healthy snacks between your meals to keep both your blood glucose and your mood in balance.
1. Choose healthy snacks over “junk food”.
Many typical snacks are high-glycemic, leading to a spike in blood glucose, followed by a crash that will leave you feeling hungry again in no time (2). Choosing snacks that are high in fibre and protein will keep you satisfied longer.
2. Snack on a schedule.
Studies have linked skipping meals to a higher body mass index. Why is skipping meals associated with a higher body weight? Perhaps because waiting until you feel very hungry before eating can put you at risk for consuming much more than you intended.
Don’t wait for hanger to overwhelm your better judgment. Plan when you will eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snack times in between. Stick to your schedule, and you won’t feel overwhelmed, better able to mange hunger and anger too.
3. Plan for portion control.
Snacking can be a powerful tool for managing appetite and helping you reach your health and weight-loss goals, but only if it’s used wisely. Planning snacks with modest portion sizes is important to make snacking work for you, instead of against you.
Surprisingly, studies suggest that smaller snack portions are just as satisfying as a bigger-sized snack. In one study, researchers asked more than 100 participants to rate how satisfied they felt after eating different portions of the same snack foods. Half the participants received a large portion size while the remaining participants received a much smaller portion of the same foods. Both groups reported feeling equally satisfied, but the group with the smaller portions consumed over 70 percent fewer calories (6).
By planning healthful, portion-controlled snacks that include satisfying protein and fiber, you’ll be better able to manage your appetite (and your mood) while supporting your health and weight-loss goals.
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