Merriam Webster defines being hangry simply as: “irritable or angry because of hunger.”
Everything is sunshine, blue skies, and lollipops until you miss a regular meal or snack. Then you start getting irritable, your concentration and energy levels drop, you feel unwell in the pit of your belly, and then with the slightest provocation…
SNAP! Horror movie time.
Being a hangry person is not much fun. Some individuals are hangry all the time, while for others it’s an occasional affliction.
I have a friend whose wife carries snacks in her handbag at all times, for when hubby drops his bundle from missing a meal or can’t get to food in time to stop acting like a goose (literally).
Being hangry is a real physiological phenomenon, caused by a drop in blood glucose levels through eating too many simple sugars or missing meals. The drop in sugar sends your hormones mental, your body gets flooded with adrenaline and cortisol to try and balance things out.
Cortisol triggers aggression in some people, causing them to get upset over mild annoyances at best. At least until you can eat, rest, or destroy a small country town in rage.
So, what do you eat when you are hangry? More importantly, what should you eat when you are hangry? The list below lays out some popular hanger-fighting foods.
The Best Snacks
Having snacks is often imperative to heading off hangriness, whether you are at work, study, or out of the kitchen and delivery range.
There are a few different snacking options I recommend you try, even some that aren’t healthy but are effective at tamping down your irritability.
Now, I shouldn’t have to remind people that veggies are great for you because of their fiber and water content. If you slice up a few different fresh vegetables and snack on them regularly throughout the day, you are unlikely to be troubled by hangriness ever again.
I’m also realistic. You may not have the time or enthusiasm to make the effort, so look for quick pre-made vegetable snacks at your supermarket or health food store, high fiber offerings such as trail mixes, or even tins of tuna or other fish products to give you a sustainable boost of protein.
Popcorn, provided it’s not sugar-drenched or buttered up (disappointing), is a brilliant choice to satiate your hunger because it’s filling and high in complex carbohydrates.
It’s also a great source of antioxidants and polyphenols, which do your circulation and blood a world of good.
You can knock it up quickly in a microwave (fresh is best), or carry a bag around with you to snack on.
Oftentimes chocolate is the go-to hangry helper, which can be a dicey proposition given it can overload you with sugar and crash you out even worse soon after, although that is counteracted by its soothing psychological effect.
However, if you have no choice but to opt for a vending machine raid, or have a bar at the bottom of your bag, I recommend dark chocolate – it has been found to lower cortisol levels quickly – and/or something with nuts in it to mix up the sugar stuff with stress fighting proteins.
Just be aware that chocolate and/or candy is a quick fix at best. You are going to need to do better soon after or your day will get worse in a hurry.
Jerky or biltong are solid options, especially for the meat-loving hangry eater. They are high in protein, often have a bit of salt content (don’t go overboard), and take a bit of physical effort chewing, and putting your body to work on a simple, repetitive task, is an underlying benefit to keeping the machine running.
Any chance you can take to get a handful of nuts will head off a lot of hunger issues you might face, as they are packed full of all sorts of goodness – fiber, protein, and fats for starters.
Nuts are great but make sure you keep the salt out entirely (or to the bare minimum), as sodium can neutralize the nutrient benefits a mixed bag gives you.
6. Cookies and Muesli Bars
I’ve got two extremely rambunctious boys under five. Not only am I contractually obligated to wear cargo shorts, but I also make sure that they are filled with cookies and muesli bars, as the kids’ behavior is at times almost exactly the same as a hangry adult.
Cookies are easy. You can carry a variety of types and flavors so that even when there is a full meltdown, you have options to choose from. Healthy food isn’t too much of a consideration – eating the cookies you love to stave off hunger is reason enough!
Muesli bars come in all types as well, and they’re individually packaged so that you can stuff them in a pocket or bag and break out in case of an emergency.
Once upon a time, everybody went to work with a hard boiled egg in their pocket (or lunchbox). We should probably bring that concept back, especially when it comes to heading off hangry vibes.
Hard-boiled eggs are low in calories and are nutrient-dense food. They are a brilliant source of high-quality proteins, B vitamins, and antioxidants.
A hard boiled egg is a sure fire way to take the edge off of your hunger, and at worst, it’s hard to yell at your colleagues with an egg in your mouth!
There’s nothing worse than being caught hangry. Keep away that hangry monster with these quick snack options.SKM: below-content placeholder