Hangry: When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both.
~The Urban Dictionary
Do you get hangry? I know I do! For years I suffered the emotional ups and downs of low blood sugar, getting pissy at the drop of a hat and taking out my frustration on inanimate objects. Now, in the year 2010, there’s a word for this phenomenon: Hangry. I've been hearing it, using it, and it's about time I wrote about it. So here's the skinny on hangry.
Some symptoms of low blood sugar are:
- Irritability if a meal is missed
- Fatigue or a weak feeling if a meal is missed
- Dizziness when standing suddenly
- Frequent headaches
- Poor memory or concentration
- Tiredness an hour or so after eating
- Heart palpitations
- Occasional shakiness
- Afternoon fatigue
- Occasional blurry vision
- Depression or mood swings
- Frequent anxiety or nervousness
- Craving for sweet
Typically, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is diagnosed with a glucose tolerance test, but most people who report suffering from low blood sugar have never had this test. Is it really necessary? The answer is no, as long as other diseases (including diabetes) have been ruled out as a cause of your symptoms.
Treating low blood sugar is very, very simple and you can do it all with a few basic modifications to your diet!
Step 1: Eat a planned snack between meals
To prevent your blood sugar from dropping too low, EAT! Consuming food every 2-4 hours will prevent the fatigue and frustration that comes with getting too hungry. In fact, if you suffer from hypoglycemia daily, you may consider switching to 5-6 smaller meals.
Step 2: Carry a bag of trail mix or a bar with you at all times
Nip your "hanger" ("han-grrr"?) in the bud by always having food available. This way, if you need to wait for an hour to be seated at a restaurant you'll be prepared!
Step 3: Include protein, fat and carbohydrates with all meals and snacks
You need ALL the macronutrients. Really. Fat will keep you full longer. Protein will prevent your blood sugar from rising too quickly. Carbohydrates will feed your brain. A mocha and a scone do not a complete snack make, gentle reader.
Step 4: Eat fiber -- lots of it
Fiber slows digestion and absorption of carbs, thereby preventing your blood sugar from rising rapidly (and falling rapidly). Plus, fiber will keep you full longer!
Step 5: Be careful when drinking alcohol
Alcohol can wreak havoc on your blood sugar because it is always metabolized first over food, and this causes a rapid increase in insulin secretion. Insulin takes glucose out of your blood, which leads to a rapid drop in blood sugar. When you drink, consume alcohol in moderation and always eat a well-balanced meal or snack with it. Drink slowly and (if possible) avoid sugary drinks.
The easiest way to avoid a drop in blood sugar is to eat frequently. My favorite snacks are:
- Peanut butter with crackers/toast/apple
- Hard boiled egg on toast or with fruit
- Nuts and fruit
- A small serving of a well-rounded meal
- Hummus or bean dip with veggies or corn chips
- Quinoa salad that includes pines nuts and veggies
- Cheese with fruit
- Yogurt with granola and nuts
- One protein bar (keep it between 100-200 calories)
With a little bit of planning, you can save your friends and loved ones from your "hangrrr".
What do you do when you get hangry? How do you avoid it?
Source: Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by M. Murray and J. Pizzorno