If you ever notice yourself feeling down or anxious when you’re hungry, there’s a reason why. Nutrition plays a significant role in our mental health, and when we don’t give our body the food it needs, our mood can plummet as a result. The amount of food we take in is directly related to our energy level which allows us to breathe, walk, run, dance, work, and participate in every other daily activity.
You may have heard of the term ‘hanger’- when being hungry causes anger. This word is often used as a joke, but there actually is a scientific explanation for why hunger causes negative emotions. When our blood sugar gets too low, levels of cortisol and adrenaline (our stress hormones) increase, triggering irritability and other related feelings. So, now you may be asking how you can raise your blood sugar when you start feeling ‘hangry’, and the answer is simple. All you need to do is eat or drink something, specifically something with carbohydrates. If you often find yourself feeling this way, focus on eating balanced meals consistently throughout the day. Don’t skip meals, and if you find your stomach rumbling throughout the day, it’s okay to snack! Foods high in fiber and protein keep us full the longest and provide us with the most sustainable energy.
Most importantly, don’t forget to eat foods that you enjoy. No matter what social media may tell you, it’s okay to include foods in your day that don’t provide the most nutrition. Foods that make us happy, such as sweets, are equally important for our mental health. Listen to your body and honor your hunger cues and cravings. When you do this, you will find yourself naturally gravitating towards a balanced diet that provides you with energy and joy.
Alyssa Meixelsperger, LSW