Pandemic Got You Hangry? Here Are 6 Reasons Why
Most of us fall into one of two categories:
Category 1 (Always hungry)
That bag of chips looks appetizing. And so does a piece of chocolate. How about a large glass of soda too? Why not drink some juice to stay hydrated as well.
Category 2 (Always hangry)
If I don’t eat right now I will force my way into a store without a mask just to get some food. All I seem to do is snack, snack, snack.
If you were tempted by comfort foods before 2020, the pandemic has only exacerbated that habit.
Step one: identify the problem. Here are six common reasons why you might be hangry, plus a simple solution for each dilemma.
(Reminder: hangry = hunger + anger)
Problem #1: I’m too busy/overwhelmed to stop and eat.
Work has always been consuming, and now it’s even busier since you’re completing tasks remotely. Plus your whole household is home, which means you’re checking on the kids during work breaks or distracted by dirty toilets. Not to mention you still have normal tasks like laundry, cooking, and letting the dog outside.
By the time you check the clock, lunch (and snack) happened hours ago. No wonder you’re stressed and hangry!
Solution: Force yourself to pause for meals. And if you will forget, set an alarm on your phone or computer.
When it’s time to eat, leave your office space (even if that’s the kitchen table). Separate yourself from your work and dine in another area. Also, no working while you eat. Do something different. Try reading a book, sitting outside, or eating with your family.
Problem #2: I have no schedule so I don’t know when to eat.
Humans crave a consistent schedule. You know how your dog waits by it’s food bowl thirty minutes before meal time? We are the same way—except we have trained ourselves not to beg for food. However, having a routine will reduce your hangry-ness.
Solution: Get into a groove.
Start with sleep. Set a lights-out and phone-off bedtime limit, and establish a consistent morning wake-up time.
Then incorporate regular meal and snack times. For example, breakfast at 7:30am, snack at 10:15am, lunch at 12:30pm, break at 3:15pm, dinner at 6:00pm, snack at 8:15pm.
Lastly, add in additional elements like fitness sessions, family time, running errands, and even laundry day.
Bonus tips: Block these things off on your calendar, and try to overlap different areas. Take an afternoon power walk with your spouse. Have a morning snack with your kids. Start laundry at lunch and finish it on your afternoon break.
Problem #3: I’m on a diet.
We’ve all heard of the dreaded quarantine 15 by now. Are you overcompensating by dieting? While a healthy balance of foods is nourishing, over restricting intake is a highway to hangry-ness.
Solution: Be a mindful eater. When your body signals that it’s hungry, it’s communicating that it needs something. Translation: a diet does not equate to not eating. Opt for eating smaller portions more frequently, plus consuming healthier alternatives
Skip the potato chips, soda, and sugary treats. Those might satisfy your tastebuds, but they will leave your stomach hungry for real nutrients. Feed your hunger with a handful of nuts, a small piece of fruit, or even water can help.
Problem #4: Eating takes too much work. What am I supposed to eat?
Speaking of the quarantine 15, you’re probably cautious about gaining weight. Yet how do you avoid it? Research and doctors seem to suggest contradictory advice, so what in the world are you actually supposed to eat to be healthy?
Solution: Read food. When in doubt, always opt for genuine food.
Yes, I know all of the things in your pantry are edible. “Genuine food” means that you consume a balance of things that are real and pure.
Flashback to middle school and recall the food pyramid: fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts/seeds, grains, and dairy. Eat those things!
An apple is better than cheese puffs. Choose trail mix over a candy bar. Munch on veggies and hummus (chickpeas) instead of flavored chips.
See, that’s easier than you thought!
Problem #5: I never stop eating. I eat but it doesn’t satisfy me. I’m always hungry (or hangry).
Sometimes three meals and three snacks a day just don’t fulfill your appetite, am I right? No matter how intentional you are to pause for breaks and eat regularly, you still get hangry. What’s happening?
Solution: Eat more filling foods. If you are eating regularly and still find yourself hungry (or hangry), try consuming different meals and snacks.
For example, potato chips and popcorn will fill you up for a little bit, but guacamole or mixed nuts will keep you full for longer. Juice might be nice in the moment, but a smoothie will stick around in your stomach even longer.
What’s the difference? Protein. Protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Here are a few protein-rich suggestions:
- Nut butters
Problem #6: It’s easier to eat with other people around...and I’m socially distanced/quarantined/working from home.
A meal for one is lonely. And it’s easier to just pour a bowl of cereal for yourself when no one is joining you at the table. But we all know that a sugary bowl of cereal will leave us more hangry than a sandwich filled with lunch meat and veggies.
Solution: Plan social meals. Host a virtual lunch date. Plan a picnic in the park. Whatever it takes to eat “together.”
Arrange for both of you to eat the same meal while video chatting even though you’re not together (like ham sandwiches with an apple on the side, or mac and cheese with broccoli).
Or meet at a restaurant; sit in your own car with the windows rolled down, and park next to your friend who is in their car with the windows rolled down. Have a conversation over lunch while seated six feet apart. Bonus: you’ll get some fresh air with the windows rolled down.
Turn your hangry-ness into creativity and find a way to still eat “together!”
Pandemic got you hangry...and angry...and anxious…
Being hangry is only one of the byproducts of this ravenous virus. If you’re experiencing hunger and anger, or anxiety, or any other negative side effect due to the pandemic, you don’t have to face that alone.
Our team would love to talk with you. Our listening ears and empathetic hearts won’t leave you alone in your hanger or anxiety. Instead, we offer realistic coping strategies and accountability. We believe you can live life to the fullest, and we want to help make that happen.
Contact us today to get started.
Clinical Director and Co-Owner at Redeemed Life Counseling