The science of "hangry" — how low blood sugar can make you grumpy
Have you ever been grumpy, just to realize that you are actually hunger?
Many of my clients come to me saying they feel more irritated, annoyed and negative when hungry – which is called being “Hangry.” As simple as skipping a meal can change your mood from pleasant into irrationally cranky.
Researches shows that these emotions often are a bodily response to a craving for food. When you haven’t eaten for a while, the amount of nutrients in the blood begins to drop and cannot be used for energy.
Without the fuel it needs, the brain cannot properly regulate anger. Lack of glucose can indeed have mild but prevailing effects; it can interfere with concentration abilities, slur speech, and you guessed it, make you more prone to grumpiness.
Another process going hand in hand with this is, when glucose levels drop, the body is, of course, going to react and try to synthesize an increased amount of sugar.
Two of these regulatory hormones happen to be in the adrenal glands; so when glucose drops in our bodies, the amount of adrenaline and cortisol is rising.
These hormones are well associated with the “flight or fight” response – a natural reaction to perceived threatening or stressful situations. This can, in turn, impact the brain. Neuropeptides are the molecules that control and influence the brain and body.
How low blood sugar can make you grumpy?
Your brain needs glucose to do its job. If you don’t have enough glucose to feed your brain, your brain can go haywire.
Even though it seems like you are emotional, this is really a physical response to low Blood Glucose. You don’t have to be below certain number such as 70mg/dL, to experience this.
Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar:
- Feeling tired
- Feeling Hungry
- Tingling lips
- Feeling Shaky
- Becoming easily irritated, tearful, anxious or moody
- Feeling sleepy
- Difficulty in concentrating
What Caused Low Blood Sugar:
- The effects of medicine
- Skipping or delaying meal
- Not enough carbohydrate foods in your last meal, such as bread, cereal, potatoes and fruits
- Exercise, especially if it’s intense or unplanned
Road Trip hacks to keep from getting hangry
A little planning and prep can go a long way when it comes to healthy road tripping, and it doesn’t mean you have to take the time to pack an elaborate picnic either.
Just a few nutrient-dense and filling snacks in a cooler bag can keep you going for hours.
Here are some snacks to pack:
- All-natural dried fruit, nuts and seeds: Make sure they are raw or dry roasted and that the fruits doesn’t contain any added sugar. Nuts are loaded with proteins, healthy fats and several vitamin and minerals that makes them super healthy. If you find them too boring by themselves, buy some masala nuts, they’re a lot more fun to eat.
- Channa: Chickpeas is a snack that you can eat any time. It’s loaded with protein and contains barely any fat. You can eat plain channa, masala channa or channa chor garam – take your pick!
- Puffed Rice: Puffed rice is a light snack that you can eat at any time during the day. Roasting it with a little oil, salt and turmeric gives it a great flavour.
- Masala Corn: Boil some corn and add spices to it for a healthy and yummy snack.
- Egg Sandwich: If you like eggs, boil them and put them on whole wheat bread and enjoy your protein rich snack that could be counted as a large meal. Use whatever condiments and sauces you like.
- Homemade popcorn: Instead of buying store-bought popcorn, which is loaded with butter and salt, just make your own at home.
- Fruits & Veggies: Carry your favourite fruits or slice up some veggies in the morning and take them with you to work.
- Hard boiled eggs: They are good source of protein and are so easy to transport. You can sprinkle some salt or chaat masala on it.
- Protein powder sachet: An easy meal in only one shake. You just need a shaker bottle for the same.
- Dark Chocolate: Feeling a little tired after all those hours on the road, a few square of dark chocolate will wake you up and cheer you too.
- Water: Don’t forget to carry a water bottle. Drink water in 1 hour interval so that you don’t go dehydrated and you will enjoy the trip with same energy.
Skipping a meal can change your mood from pleasant into grumpy. When you haven’t eaten for a while, the amount of nutrients in the blood begins to drop and cannot be used for energy.
So, do not miss any meal. Know your hunger and don’t feel Hangry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anuja Dani, Certified Sports Nutritionist
Founder, Harmony Wellness,
M.S.c. Nutrition & Dietetics