While the word itself was only added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2018, feeling ‘hangry’ is an age-old problem. That specific combination of hunger and anger – the kind that can only be cured by devouring food, glorious, food – is enough to turn even the most sweet-tempered person into a raging monster.
According to a new survey from WW, 86 percent of people experience hanger, with 34 percent saying they think about food more when they’re on a calorie controlled or restrictive diet. But why does hunger produce an emotional reaction for so many of us?
“Similar to when people feel easily irritated when they have low energy due to lack of sleep, the lack of fuel from food can make you feel irritated and tired,” says Lifesum nutritionist Signe Svanfeldt. “All individuals are different. Some are more sensitive to the feeling of hunger, why others aren’t as affected.”
The good news is there are lots of ways to keep hanger at bay without falling off the healthy eating bandwagon…
1. Stock up on frozen fruit
“Frozen fruit and vegetables are quick, nutritious, cost-effective options to have on standby,” says GP and health coach Dr Helen Lawal.
You can buy bags of mixed berries that defrost quickly at room temperature or with a quick blast in the microwave, or you can add them frozen to smoothies.
She adds: “They go great with yoghurt, ice cream or stirred into porridge.”
2. Make sure meals are balanced
“Balanced meals make you feel fuller for longer and provide you with the nutrients needed to fuel your body,” says Svanfeldt, which is why it’s best to avoid carb-heavy dishes and ensure you get a good mix of “dietary fibres, healthy unsaturated fat and protein”.
Lawal says: “Don’t fear unsaturated fat. The likes of avocados, nuts, olive oil, and oily fish have benefits and can make meals more satisfying.”
3. Double your dishes
While you’re rustling up a balanced meal or healthy snack, double the portion size and save it for later, Lawal recommends. “Keep a stock in the fridge for hangry moments when you’re tempted to reach for the biscuit tin.”
4. Bulk up with beans
Another way to feel satisfied for longer is by adding pulses such as kidney beans, chickpeas or lentils to recipes.
“Keep your store cupboard stocked with a variety of tinned beans,” says Lawal. “Packed with protein and filling fibre, add to whatever meal you’re already cooking from curries to stews.”
5. Bring your own snacks
Do you often succumb to sugary impulse purchases when you’re out and about? Svanfeldt says: “If you know that you’ll be on the run, make sure to always bring a nutritious snack in your bag so you have it available when the energy drops.”
6. Get enough sleep
Find yourself snacking more when you’re tired? There’s a reason for that.
“Get good quality and enough sleep,” advises Lawal (according to the NHS, most adults need six to nine hours a night). “This affects hormones that control how hungry and full we feel.”