That time when I was ‘hangry’!

When you’re so hungry, you’ll do just about anything!

Hangry, it’s the new word that describes being angry because you’re so hungry. When you’re hangry you don’t care anymore. You may have avoided gluten all day, but when you’re hangry, you’re like: “Give me some friggin’ bread!”

You could’ve quit sugar for weeks and in one hangry sweep, the fundraising chocolate box has officially reached its budget for the day.

Being hangry is dangerous, for yourself and the people around you. Bikini body goals become full piece goals and the once noble, ‘clean eating’ you is now a drive-through bandit. If you have children, just one silly question and you’ve bitten off their head. Don’t even mention the poor husband – he’s a dead man.

When you’re hangry, the planned steamed fish and vegetables becomes pasta and garlic bread with a large side of wine. You might say things like, “What’s the point, I don’t care about losing weight anymore,” or, “I’m never going to fit into that dress anyway, I may as well just eat whatever the hell I want.”

It’s like the golden dreams of the morning – when we woke up so fresh and full of hope for our health and fitness goals – just got run over by the hangry train and dragged along the tracks for a few kilometres.

The problem is, once you’ve eaten a funny thing happens!

Your blood sugar levels begin to rise. Your brain now has the fuel it prefers and needs and the once fantastic decision to annihilate that packet of water crackers and brie now seems like a super bad idea. And those golden goals of the morning, they ARE important! You start thinking: “Why did I just do that?”


Oh the frustration.

There’s a story in the bible about two men. They’re brothers. The culture in those days meant that the main inheritance and blessing went to the firstborn son. It was known as the birthright.

So the story goes that the younger brother, who was a little deceitful, was at home making stew. He was a domestic kinda guy. Liked to hang around the home. Perhaps he was testing out his new Thermomix. His older brother, who was a rough, outdoorsy man was out hunting.

A true paleo hunter, the older brother had spent all day hunting. Because he’d been out a long time and not packed himself some appropriate snacks he returned home extremely hungry.

Can you imagine coming home starving and all you can smell is a pot of stew bubbling away on the stove? Oh my, your appetite rages: “Get in my belly!”

So the hungry older brother, says: “Quick, let me have some of that stew, I’m famished!”. The younger brother thinks about it for a bit. Well, that’s poetic licence, if you want to read the actual biblical account click here (verse 27), but I’m sure that if you think about how it really happened, I reckon the younger brother pondered for a moment just to see how desperate his older brother was before making his terms of trade.

“First, sell me your birthright.”

The older brother replies: ” Look! I am about to die! What good is a birthright to me?!”

Dude! Are you crazy!

How many times have you said something like that when you’ve felt super hungry? “OMG I”m gonna die!” Maybe it’s just me…

And so, to conclude the story, the older brother sells his birthright for a bowl of stew and some bread. Not the brightest crayon in the box.

I love this story because it makes me feel better about myself. I get cross when I’m hungry. I can say mean things when I’m hungry. I make poor food choices when I’m hungry and sometimes it can get so bad, it changes my whole perspective on a bunch of goals and thoughts about life. The older brother gave up his entire family inheritance, for a bowl of stew.

If this happens to you, here are some thoughts to help you cage the hangry monster and stay a little more level throughout the day:

  1. Give your body the energy it needs: Choose high fibre, minimally processed sources of carbohydrate at each meal: oats, brown rice, sweet potato, potato with the skin on, rye bread, lentils, chick peas, beans, etc. Aim for a portion size around 1/4 of your dinner plate.  Quick tip: Try a good quality muesli for breakfast!
  2. Fill up on protein: Include minimally processed, good sources of protein at each of your meals: greek or natural yoghurt, milk, eggs, chicken breast or thigh, steak, chops, salmon, white fish, tuna, tofu, etc. Aim for a portion size around 1/4 of your dinner plate. Quick tip: This salad recipe does not result in afternoon hangriness.
  3. Don’t let yourself go so long without food: Be prepared during the day with healthy snacks that you can eat in-between meals. Quick tip: A tub of greek yoghurt, fruit, trail mix, a handful of nuts, a high fibre muesli bar, a boiled egg or vegetable sticks can all help get you through the day without killing somebody or yelling at Canberrans who don’t know how to merge…
  4. Stop and be mindful: Being hangry happens when you fall victim to your plummeting blood sugar levels. It can make you feel like there is no hope and that you won’t survive unless you grab something to eat. To combat this, try to remain calm, take a deep breath, grab a glass of water and weigh up your options for your next meal and choose accordingly. There may only be chocolate biscuits available. Just have one biscuit, not ten. You may decide that after you’ve stopped and thought about it that you’re actually okay and can wait until dinner in an hour. Whatever the decision, be mindful and own it. It’s your life.

In the end, finding yourself regularly hangry may be due to the fact that you’re dieting too strictly. Perhaps it’s time to take a more balanced approach to achieving your goals so you can stay more consistent.

Better that you eat more whole, minimally processed foods and feel fuller than skimp on those foods, only to overeat high sugar, high fat, high energy foods later on in the day.

If you find it difficult to manage your appetite from day to day and feel like you’re out of control with your eating habits, the nutritionists and dietitians at The Healthy Eating Hub can help.

I take one-on-one appointments to help you lose weight and put healthy eating into practice so it works for you!

Article by Kate Freeman

Registered Nutritionist. Writer. Presenter. Home cook. Mother. Wife. Runner. Hiker. Amateur photographer.