We’ve all been there when you’re so hungry that you’re willing to chew your own arm off, bludgeon someone with a fork to get the donut they’re holding or tantrum like a toddler unless someone brings you food NOW! It’s called being hangry (hungry + angry) and it’s horrible when it strikes.
Being hangry is a biological symptom when your body is screaming at you to eat. In fact, when your brain is starved of glucose (that it gets from food), it can stimulate a peptide called Neuropeptide Y which also regulates anger – basically the hungrier you get, the angrier you get too. It’s your body’s survival mechanism to be aggressive in your hunt for food.
Your brain and body are always talking
The biology of hunger and appetite is a communication between your brain and body. When you’re starting to get hungry, your body sends out signals such as a rumbling stomach, an emptiness and low energy. This then stimulates a hormone to be produced in the stomach called Ghrelin, which acts as a bike messenger to your brain to say. “Hey, I’m hungry now, go an eat.”
As the food goes down your gullet and into your stomach, receptors take note of things like how full you’re getting, how much food is being ingested and the expansion of your stomach. This then stimulates a hormone in the fat cells called Leptin, to send another message to your brain to say, “Hey, you’ve had enough now, stop eating.”
This is called homeostatic eating, which basically means balanced eating.
We’re often out of balance
Unfortunately, with the large portions, the diet fads and high stress levels, we are often out of balance with our eating, because we override these hormone messages and overeat.
Eating too much sugar can become quite addictive too, sending your brain a shot of the happy hormone, dopamine. Sugar is not bad in itself, but it’s the amount that we’re eating in our current food environment – it’s in everything from our bread to yogurts.
This coupled with the ballooning portion sizes of drinks and meals, is a recipe for disaster for healthy balanced eating.
Add to this mix our higher stress levels and depression, which leads many down a path of emotional eating and that’s when hangry can strike.
How to avoid the hangry monster
To avoid being hangry or out of balance try and practice there 5 steps:
- Listen to your body for when you are genuinely hungry and full and honor that. You can use this free worksheet to help you figure out these body signals.
- Be mindful when you eat, by sitting and eating in a calm and relaxed environment, with no distractions such as TV, phone, or tablet. Check out my infographic on mindful eating.
- Be prepared with healthy snacks, such as cheese and crackers or nuts, to tide you over when you’re out and hunger pangs strike. You can download some inspirational healthy snack recipe ideas.
- Don’t leave it too long between meals and wreak havoc on your blood sugars. That includes starving yourself on extremely restrictive fad diets.
- Eat meals packed with filling protein, fats, and a small amount of carbohydrates to keep your energy going for longer without any crashes and hangry episodes. Read more about this on my blog on how to stop feeling hungry all the time.
If you want more tips and advice on how to eat healthily, find your ideal weight, and get the body you deserve (without restrictive dieting), watch my free webinar here.