A few days ago, I splurged a little and decided to get my hair styled professionally. Of course, I had to rush out the door to get to the appointment on time, so I skipped my typical soy sausage patty and egg sandwich for an orange. Needless to say, about 3 hours later, I was famished! I guess I needed the world to feel my pain, because my style of conversation became very short. I heard people speaking to me, but I wasn't really listening. It reached a point where my good friend just decided to take the hint and stop talking to me, too. Now, in that moment, I knew I was wrong, but when you love food as much as I do, being deprived of it for seemingly forever takes its toll. Later, after a couple of meals and reflection, I approached my friend with an apology. Her response, "It's okay. I knew you were hangry." NEW WORD! Like any lifelong student, whenever I'm introduced to a new word, I have to Google it. Urban Dictionary1 describes hangry as "when you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated, or both". I started to ponder. How many angry people have I encountered in life who just really needed a sandwich? Here are a few tips to help avoid those awkward hangry moments in the future:
Eat breakfast: With an estimated 31 million Americans skipping breakfast2, can you image all the hangry people walking around in the 11 o'clock hour. Take time to prepare a high protein, high fiber breakfast. Avoid high sugar foods like pastries or donuts (Did I say that?), because they don't offer much lasting energy. You'll end up reaching for more food in a short period of time. Eggs are a quick protein option. Whole grain oatmeal is a good source of fiber. Protein and fiber both aid in achieving a feeling of satiety to help you get to that next meal without turning evil gremlin on anyone within 10 feet. Just keep any added sugar or fat to a minimum.
The first step in your recovery..."Honey, I'm hangry.": It may be difficult to accept that simply postponing a meal can have such an impact on your attitude, but it can. People around us often feel our wrath and may take your mood change personally. Simply communicate that you feel your mood changing and apologize in advance if you at any point seem disconnected from the conversation. Chances are that person has been in the same boat. Hey, they may be game for a quick meal break.
Snack healthy: Research shows that low blood sugar may correspond to more negative reactions in frustrating situations. While playing a difficult computer game in one study3, participants who were given a sugary drink were less visibly frustrated. While it is not recommended to drink the bulk of your calories, giving yourself access to some quick calories in moderation might be just what you need to keep you focused. If it is not unusual for you to have a busy day where meals are not always planned appropriately, keep healthy snacks-nuts, fruit, or naturally sweetened options- around to get you through the hump.
So, the next time you have the urge to tell some angry person to "Kick rocks." sub in "Get a snack." That's probably all they need.