Ever notice kids getting cranky as mealtime approaches? ‘Hangry’ is the latest portmanteau term (hungry+angry) to join the dictionary of urban slang. Kids though are not the only ones susceptible to fits of rage as their blood sugar drops. If you find yourself getting crotchety as a meeting drags into lunch or if you miss a snack, here’s how you can get through it without losing your cool.
Why we get Hangry?
“Hanger is a survival technique built into our system from the time we were hunters. And it’s not just specific to human beings – you’ll notice that a hungry animal is an angry animal. If an organism was laid-back and took it easy when it was hungry, letting everyone else eat first, it would die,” says psychiatrist Dr Hozefa A Bhinderwala. When you are hungry, your blood sugar level drops. This happens because the nutrients in your food get converted into simple sugars, amino acids and free fatty acids, distributed to the blood and passed along to your organs. With time, after a meal, the density of sugar in the bloodstream reduces. Your body responds to this dip by releasing the adrenaline hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which can cause jitters, jumpiness, and anger. We tell you three simple ways to fight hanger.
How to handle it?
Hanger is your body communicating with you, so make sure you listen. Dr Bhinderwala says, “The biggest problem is that most people ignore their basic physiological drives. Plain and simple awareness can bring about a big change.”
Try this: Keep a diary/ journal to identify these complex emotions as they occur and to also record your eating patterns and timings. You might want to include questions such as, “What were my emotions before, during and after the meal?”
You can deal with hanger using the mindfulness meditation technique. Close your eyes and slowly become mindful of the sensations that arise in your body. Accept your vulnerability and release any resentment you might feel towards the sensations.
Try this: With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. Deep diaphragm breathing is a technique used by those who fast.
The point of a snack is to hold you over, maintain your blood sugar, and supply your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs till the next meal. People often forget this because they associate snacking with something crunchy, salty, sweet or processed, but fast foods are used up equally fast by the body and you’ll be hungry again soon.
Try this: Keep nutrient-rich foods like walnuts, roasted chickpea, berries, granola, etc. in your bag or pocket. Munch on them before you get really hungry, and have them with water. This should keep you going till you eat again.