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Eight Tips for Fighting Hangry Feelings

Feeling “hangry,” or anger due to being hungry, can lead to some serious consequences. You may have known this for years, but researchers are just starting to recognize the possible effects of being “hangry.” It turns out the drawbacks of being “hangry” can be further-reaching than simply feeling uncomfortable. 

People who are hangry regularly snap at their significant others, swear out loud or under their breath, blow up at their children for minor offenses, argue with coworkers, and are rude on the phone. They even fight over – what else? – food, with recent examples being fights at buffets and attacks on fast food workers.

Feeling hangry is also a possible health hazard. It may be a sign of low blood sugar and less-than-perfect dietary choices, which are not ideal if you have prediabetes. The Lark DPP check-in had a few tips, and the following additional tips can also help fight hangry feelings and improve health, too.

1. Know the signs


The sooner you see signs of feeling hangry, the faster you can act, and the less damage there may be. Because of the relationship to low blood sugar, early warning signs may include shakiness, fatigue, and short-temperedness. You may also find it unreasonably difficult to start or complete what should be manageable tasks.

2. Be prepared


Having the treatment available can help you stop feeling hangry faster. People with diabetes who may have dangerously low blood sugar may need fast-acting carbohydrates, such as juice or candy, to get their blood sugar back to safe levels as fast as possible. However, if you have prediabetes and being hangry is the result of hunger, a snack with high-fiber carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat can be best at satisfying hunger and preventing it from returning quickly. Examples include apple slices with peanut butter, bell pepper strips with hummus, cottage cheese with sunflower seeds and berries, and fat-free refried beans and avocado slices.

3. Prevent it


How better to beat hangry feelings than to prevent them? Some strategies for fighting sudden and sneaky hunger include eating regular meals and snacks without skipping meals, and choosing filling foods. Fiber, such as from vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fruit, and protein, such as from fish, chicken, eggs, tofu, beans, yogurt, and cheese, are filling nutrients.

4. Have a back-up plan


Stashed snacks can save the day at times when hangry feelings show up unexpectedly. Shelf-stable foods that can save the day include peanuts and nuts, tuna or salmon in pouches or in a can with an easy-open lid, packets of oatmeal, soy nuts or dried soybeans, unsweetened whole-grain cereal, low-sodium turkey or soy jerky, and brown rice cakes.

5. Check tomorrow’s schedule


Know what appointments and other events you have coming up so you can plan when and what you are going to eat.

6. Ask for help


If you have a habit of feeling hangry around other people, ask them to be on the lookout for warning signs that it is time to eat. A partner or coworker who knows you well can detect if you are being extra sensitive or very slow, and can suggest that you have a snack.

7. Limit sugary foods


What goes up must come down, and that is what happens with blood sugar. Sugary foods and beverages can spike blood sugar levels, leading to a temporary burst of energy, but the benefits are short-lived. The blood sugar crash comes next, and with it come feelings of shakiness, lethargy, crankiness. That is, you may get hangry. Sugary culprits to limit throughout the day include desserts, candy, baked goods, sugar-sweetened cereals and flavored oatmeal and yogurt, and sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit punch, lemonade, and sweetened coffee and tea beverages.

8. Stay hydrated


Sometimes, all it takes to stave off feelings of being hangry is water. Staying hydrated can reduce hunger, while mild dehydration can lead to fuzzy thinking, lack of focus, muscle weakness, and quick tempers. Water, decaffeinated black coffee and unsweetened tea, and other calorie-free and low-calorie beverages are best.

Keeping up with healthy meals and snacks, staying hydrated, and being prepared to recognize and treat hunger can all help prevent feelings of being hangry from getting in the way of productivity and personal relationships. Lark DPP can remind you to eat healthy, suggest nutritious foods for meals and snacks, and keep you focused on health and weight loss to lower risk for type 2 diabetes as you keep hanger away.

Written by Natalie Stein on March 29, 2020
Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health
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