Earlier this month, a study conducted by Psychologist Brad Bushman from Ohio State University revealed that low blood sugar levels caused by skipping snacks may contribute to crankiness, causing us to lash out at our loved ones. Hunger may not only cause a bad mood, it may also contribute to weight gain. At about the same time a study revealed couples argue more when they are hungry, an article published in Men’s Health cited a study which concluded that men who snack at night have a higher metabolic rate in the morning. The two studies seem to suggest that skipping snacks may be to blame for both moodiness and weight gain.
Most of us have experienced hanger (the term is used to refer to a state of rage caused by hunger), and understand that being hungry does not make for pleasant social interactions. Low blood sugar levels can put a scowl on almost anyone’s face, but according to a medically reviewed article on Healthline, hunger may not only cause a bad mood it may also make encourage weight gain. Maintaining a steady mood and keeping weight off should not encourage us to indulge in unabashed late night snacking, however. Instead, we should eat healthy snacks more frequently, while controlling portions. What we eat in terms of vitamins and nutrients is just as important as how often we eat. Staving off hunger with healthy snacks is key to avoiding weight gain.
The Healthline article reminds us that sugar is only one of the many foods that affect how we feel. Eating sugar may give us a boost of energy in the moment leaving us hungry and lethargic shortly after, but there are also foods that have the opposite effect, providing energy and improving mood for longer. While everyone has different allergies and sensitivities, a good place to start is by balancing protein, vitamins, and fiber. Protein like eggs, seafood, tofu, and yogurt can help slow your blood’s absorption on carbohydrates, keeping your blood-sugar levels balanced several hours after eating. Research has suggested a few specific vitamins can be helpful in maintaining a mood balance. Vitamin D may relieve mood disorders, while B12 is known to ease depression. Sources of these mood-stabling vitamins are cheese, lean beef, and salmon. Fiber found in brown rice, barley, apples, and lettuce not only keeps you regular, it could help to maintain a more pleasant mood by slowing down the bloodstream’s absorption of sugar.
While it certainly is important to nourish our bodies regularly, it would be naïve to assume calories are created equal, or to believe reaching for a handful of chips at midnight is the same as snacking on a handful of almonds before bed. Hunger may cause a bad mood and weight-gain, but frequent gorging on sugar and simple carbohydrates could have the same affects. To avoid weight gain and a bad mood, balance dietary needs and make healthier choices it when it comes to snacking between meals.
Commentary by Sandra Pugliese