Have you ever noticed how foods affect your mood? The term “hangry” describes the emotional rollercoaster and angry feelings some people experience when they become hungry.
We’ve all been there, it’s been too long between meals or you’ve slumped after that slice of chocolate cake and you find yourself snapping at your partner/kids/colleague for no reason. Research shows that hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar can be the cause of sudden changes in mood.
One study found that married couples were more likely to be irrationally angry with their partner if they were hungry – regardless of how happy their relationship was. This is because glucose or sugar provides the brain with the energy it needs to control aggressive impulses. When blood sugar drops so does our capacity to control anger.
Balancing Blood Sugar
The Honestly Healthy Green & Lean Plan incorporates foods high in plant proteins with a balance of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates to keep you feeling full, satisfied, energised. And it’s the same recipe to keep your mood balanced too.
Here are my 5 top tips to balance your blood sugars and mood and prevent you getting HANGRY!
1. Eat regular meals: space your meals out regularly throughout the day and plan them so you know when you’re next going to eat. Or if your days are sometimes unpredictable always carry a healthy snack like these Apricot & Chia Energy Balls or some unsalted nuts and fruit so you’re not caught short!
2. Increase protein: Protein helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer and balances your blood sugar. Great sources of plant proteins include lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu, nuts and seeds as well as plant based protein powders. You should be aiming to incorporate protein at every meal. It might be protein powder in your breakfast smoothie, lentils and seeds in your salad at lunch or a chickpea curry for dinner.
3. Limit sugar : try to avoid or limit sugary foods and drinks like cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolate and white pasta/rice/bread, fizzy pop and fruit juices which will make your blood sugar rise and then drop very quickly.
4. Eat the right fats: Fat has had a bad rap for many years but if you add healthy fats like avocado, olive oil and nuts/seeds to your diet, you will feel more satisfied and less likely to crave sugary treats later on. Fats are also essential to support the production of hormones which keep your mood balanced.
5. Eat real whole food: As the Green and Lean plan encourages you to eat real whole food rather than processed foods. As well as avoiding hidden sugars you’ll be getting the nutrients and fibre your body needs to keep your blood sugar and mood balanced.
If you find yourself feeling angry, frustrated or in an argument with someone, ask yourself when you last ate and see if it’s low blood sugar unbalancing your mood and reach for a healthy snack before the hangry you takes over!
1. Bushman, Dewall et al (2014) ‘Low Glucose relates to greater aggression in married couples’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111:17 pp.6254-6257
2. NHS, Hypoglycaemia, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hypoglycaemia/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
3. Benton and Donohoe (1999) ‘The effects of nutrients on mood’ Public Health Nutrition 2:3a pp.403-409
4. Gonder-Frederick, Cox et al, 1989, ‘Mood changes associated with blood glucose fluctuations in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus’ Healthy Psychology 1:pp.45-59