5 Reasons the Pandemic Might Be Making You Hangry
Five reasons you might be emotionally eating and hangry right now.
Posted Nov 30, 2020
"Hangry" is the clever combination of the words hungry and angry. It aptly defines that not-so-pleasant feeling you get when you are overly hungry. People in the throes of hanger are easy to spot because they are often grumpy, irritable, and downright snappy. While most people experience hanger only on occasion due to an unusually busy day or skip eating when they feel pressured for time, the Pandemic may have made hanger a more frequent occurrence. There are a few reasons you, your family members, or significant others may be more vulnerable to being hangry right now.
1. Diet pressure. As soon as the pandemic started, social media feeds were inundated with posts on advice on how to "get in shape" and "lose weight" while stuck at home. Not to mention the jokes that poked fun at the "Quarantine 15," the weight one was is reputed to gain while at home. So, if you felt pressure to diet and lose weight over the past few months, you aren't alone. Unfortunately, dieting is a one-way street to feeling hangry. When you feel deprived or restrict food, it impacts your blood sugar levels which changes your mood and energy level. This is your body's way of reminding you to eat again.
The Fix: Stop dieting and start eating mindfully. Mindful eating is about listening to your hunger. Instead of trying to ignore it or fight it off hunger as you do when dieting, you learn how to feed your hunger well. Click here to learn more.
2. Chaotic sleep. Working from home, online schooling, and staying at home may have thrown a monkey wrench into your sleep schedule. Your body loves and craves consistency. Therefore, when you change your sleep schedule because you don't have to be at school or your office anymore, you wreak havoc on your sleep and appetite hormones which influence how hungry you are. Even missing an hour of sleep because you stayed up late to binge-watch your favorite TV show can make you feel hungrier the next day. Don't be surprised if you not only wake up on the wrong side of the bed but also are ravenously hungry the next morning.
The fix: As best you can try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to go to bed. Seven to nine hours of sleep are optimal for maintaining a positive mood and keeping the hanger away. Remind yourself that you will make more mindful food decisions on a good night's sleep than if you feel like a zombie in the morning.
3. Snaccidents. Snaccidents are snacks that you didn't mean to eat or you unintentionally ate more than you planned. If you are working from home, it's easy to snack throughout the day. Your kitchen is only steps away. The downside is that people aren't stopping to eat real meals like they did when they were at work. This doesn't keep you as full, thus resulting in feeling hangry.
The fix: Instead of grazing on snacks throughout the day, make sure to eat solid meals. Set a firm lunchtime. Stop what you are doing. Move away from your desk. Try to avoid multitasking while you eat.
4. Anxiety: The world has been in upheaval the past few months. For many people, when they are anxious or afraid, they completely lose their appetite. The anxiety symptoms overshadow their hunger cues. While their body is still hungry, they don't perceive it or focus on it. Therefore, if you are feeling anxious you might not be getting in enough calories to prevent you from feeling hangry.
The fix: If you don't sense or perceive that you are hungry due to anxiety, set up routine times to eat throughout the day. Remember you lost the desire to eat not the need. Set up reminders. Snack on nutrient-dense foods if you don't feel like you can tolerate meals. Focus on stress management techniques to help calm your anxiety (try out the Calm app for example) or mindful exercises.
5. Isolation. Let's face it. It's no fun to eat alone. It's likely you may skip a meal here or there or just make yourself a bowl of cereal to get by. People become very vulnerable to hanger when they put little effort or completely skip out on meals.
The fix: Change your mindset about eating alone. Remember that eating well is an important way to boost your concentration, mood, and energy levels, it's not just for socializing. If it helps you to eat well, schedule an outdoor picnic with a friend, plan a social distanced lunch date, or Zoom/Facetime during meal times.