Just because being hangry is a real possibility, doesn’t mean you need to experience it. Arm yourself with tools and plan to avoid excessive hunger—and potential hanger—altogether. There are three important steps you can take today.
Understand the Glycemic Index
Glycemic index is a value assigned to a food based on how quickly your body can convert the food into usable energy, or glucose. Simple carbohydrates (think refined sugar or white bread) will fall on the high-end of the glycemic index. That’s because the energy within them is readily available for use by the body. More complex carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables release glucose slow and steady so they fall on the low end of the index. It’s because they have more fiber to slow down the digestion process.
Those are the basics. You can dive deeper if you want, but you should be familiar enough with this concept to use it to your advantage! Here are some ideas.
- Reach for foods on the low end of the glycemic index. These foods take longer to breakdown, meaning you avoid a quick spike of energy followed by a crash. That’s because low-glycemic foods provide you more sustained energy over time.
- Pair high-glycemic foods with something on the lower end. For example, if you’re having a carb-heavy meal, add a colorful side salad. Skip the hearts of romaine and go for deeper greens. Spruce up the salad with other colorful veggies like bell peppers, carrots, or beets. The veggie boost will provide a healthy dose of fiber to help slow down the digestion of the simpler carbs. Or add some healthy fats or protein to further delay carb digestion.
Start Your Day Right
As you’ve probably heard, breakfast is very important. When you skip breakfast, you’re almost asking for a one-way ticket to Hangry-town. Keep your belly full and your mind sharp by having a balanced meal to start the day. If your mornings are busy, consider packing a healthy snack the night before. Then if hunger creeps up before lunchtime, you have a go-to hanger stopper within reach.
Protein is Anti-Hangry
Protein helps keep you feeling fuller for longer. So, it’s a great idea to examine what kind of meals and snacks you normally eat. If you find your meals are short on, or completely devoid of, protein, get creative.
- Don’t assume that protein means meat. There are many meat-alternatives on the market. Whether it’s tofu, seitan, tempeh, or a mix of veggie proteins, the options are plentiful. If these alternative proteins are new to you, read up and consider adding one or two to your diet for some variety.
- If you are a meat eater, vary your sources. Consider a new type of meat or fish. If you already eat a variety, switch up how it’s prepared. For example, if you enjoy turkey, ask your butcher to grind it and make your own burger patties. Your market should be staffed by butchers well-versed in different cuts, preparation styles, and even recipe ideas. If not, there are ways to accomplish these tasks at home.
- Pair a healthy midday snack, like carrots, apples, or celery, with a nut butter. It can give you the perfect mix of savory and sweet while also providing you with a serving of protein.
If these tips are new to you, start slow. If you’re overzealous, you may find that the new habits are harder to adopt. Instead, pick out one that feels doable and start there. Once you’ve incorporated a new habit successfully, try adding another into the mix.