If You Get "Hangry" This Might Be Why
I used to be someone who, if I didn't eat every 2-3 hours, I thought I might fall apart. Sounds dramatic, I know. Are you familiar with "hanger?" That level of hunger that can be best described as a blood sugar drop that leaves you feeling weak, shaky, and irritable? And what if I was to tell you we aren't supposed to feel that way? If this sensation is something you experience on a daily basis, that signals to me you are struggling with mismanaged blood sugar and hormonal imbalance.
There are two different types of hunger: hormonal hunger and physical hunger. Physical hunger should occur 4-6 hours after your last meal. Hormonal hunger on the other hand occurs when your blood sugar drops even when it’s in the normal range, and can have you reaching for another meal or snack just 60-90 minutes after your last. Furthermore, your hormones have you reaching for the "carby" foods because they get converted into glucose and is guaranteed quick energy (glucose being our body’s natural form of fuel). This ties in to emotional hunger as well, because with certain emotions (stress, anxiety, boredom, sadness), cortisol levels rise, blood sugar spikes (then subsequently drops) and the process starts all over again.
Ideally, we want to eat in order to elongate the blood sugar curve, so that we are going 4-6 hours between meals. This has positive implications for your energy, digestion and metabolism. First of all, digestion is a very energy-intensive process (although we can't really feel it). Your gut works really hard to do its job. So when we eat too frequently, we might be over-taxing our digestive system, asking it to undergo the process even when it isn't finished with the last time around. This can drag us down, leading to that post-meal fatigue.
Secondly, every time you eat, your body responds by releasing the hormone insulin into your blood stream. Insulin is our storage hormone. It's job is to gather nutrients from your food (primarily glucose) and shuttle it to your cells to be stored. When insulin is present, your body is in storage mode. This sends the signal to your body that there is a more bio-available form of fuel present, and to hold on to stored fat. If weight loss (i.e. fat loss) is one of your goals, this is important to know! Remember that nutrition myth of eating smaller meals throughout the day in order to keep your metabolism stoked? This is not necessarily how your body works.
Achieving blood sugar balance has not only increased my energy and mental clarity, but freed me from years of food anxiety! I am no longer constantly worried where my next meal or snack is coming from in order to prevent "hanger." Hunger feels so much more natural.
If you feel as if you might be struggling with mismanaged blood sugar, there is another way, and I would love to help! Please feel free to contact me, or check out my coaching page for more information. And click here to read about how one of my clients overcame "hanger" for good!