Feeling “Hangry”?

July 2016 - Nutrition

Do you ever feel your personality changes when you’re hungry? Do your patience, kindness, and empathy go out the window and are replaced with frustration, anger, and the urge to strangle someone? And you need to eat now. Not in an hour, or even five minutes. Now.

I hate to break it to you, but you’re not actually hungry. What you’re feeling is a blood sugar crash.

Okay, you might also be hungry, but real hunger isn’t emotional. Real hunger feels like an empty feeling in your stomach, a slight dip in energy, and the feeling that “in the next few hours I should eat something”. You’ve got time to find something healthy to eat, you stay feeling like yourself, and you can continue on with your day.

All other feelings that surround hunger are a message from your blood sugar, and it’s not happy.

Plus, these crashes really affect how we eat. Since we need to eat now, we go looking for the fastest thing we can grab. Our body also wants something sweet, so even if you have something healthy on hand, it won’t seem appetizing. Oh, but that cookie looks fantastic right now.

And we always overcompensate. We eat too much because it takes about 20 minutes before our body knows that food is on its way. So we spend those 20 minutes eating anything we can find. The result—our blood sugar spikes, and later crashes again. It’s a blood sugar rollercoaster, and many of us spend most of our lives on it.

We feel our eating is out of control. Our sugar cravings are intense. And our energy is always going up and down. It’s downright exhausting.

I know this rollercoaster well; I spent every day on it. I woke up every morning starving (a sign my blood sugar crashed overnight). I ate immediately, and had to eat again before I left the house. I spent my day finding snacks, and panicking if I didn’t have any food on hand. I was hungry and tired all the time. And by the end of the day I was too tired to even think about cooking, so I would have something quick, easy, and not-so-nutritious.

The best news is, it’s really easy to get off this ride. All it takes is some awareness, understanding, and a bit of planning at the beginning. Tomorrow you can feel better. It’s true—you can feel better quite quickly with just a few small changes.

Breakfast: sugar + stimulants (like coffee) = stepping onto the rollercoaster. A higher protein/fat/fibre breakfast is a better start, like poached eggs and veggies, or steel-cut oats with nuts and seeds. For carb breakfast types, be sure your breakfast is high in nutrients and fibre.

Notice: Every time you feel hungry, how do you feel? Is it a demanding blood sugar crash, or real hunger? Whatever you last ate caused this feeling, make a note.

Pre-arranged snack: 3–5pm is the most common crash time. This sets the stage for either a sugary treat to perk us up or we eat everything out of our cupboards when we get home. Make note of your crash time, and have a snack about 30 minutes before. Stop the crash before it starts.

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