Hangry: the deprivation of food causing an emotional state of anger.

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I’ve had my fair share of runs that were rough and a struggle to finish some days. But my morning runs this week have not been some of those. Sunday morning, I was the runner grinning ear to ear, splashing through puddles from the day before and embracing the sunshine beaming upon my face. I was the runner getting the “what are you so happy about?” looks as I smiled at everyone I passed (with many smiles back). And why not have something to smile about? That day was a gorgeous morning, I have the most amazing friends, a life I am blessed to wake up to every morning, a love I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, and a family who supports and loves me and one another unconditionally. And due to this weekend having been Mother’s Day, I can’t help but specifically mention how fortunate I am to have the most wonderful mother. She inspires me more than I can even say and pushes me to live life to its fullest every moment. She has taught me to be both gracious and strong. Caring and courageous. And has given me this life that I am blessed to live. That, is a great feeling.

Mom and Me 

You know what else is a great feeling? Throwing out an old suitcase because the wheels no longer function as they can hardly roll their way down to 8th Avenue to catch a taxi to the airport. It was kind of a bitter sweet funeral as I set my pink and brown Roxy suitcase on the curb next to the mile high bags of garbage and abandoned odds and ends. That suitcase has seen it all from the West to East Coast. It’s been on numerous family vacations, mom and daughter road trips, Vegas for Miss America, my first voyage out to this concrete jungle, and several mini trips to meet up with Luke over the last year and a half. While it was very distinguishable out of all the other black and navy pieces of luggage (I can’t keep my luggage colors straight so I have to have something bright when I travel), knowing that I have traveled so frequently that my dependable little Roxy bag can take no more means more to me than just another thing to add onto the list of things to do. Following “Buy eggs, spinach, and peanut butter” and preceding “Figure out what to do next in life” is “Purchase a new, bright piece of luggage to continue traveling around the world”. Throwing out a ratty piece of luggage is a symbol of success to me as it represents working towards one of my life goals which is to never get stale and constantly be exploring and growing.

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Source: Rachel Talks Travel

What isn’t a great feeling is something I occasionally will experience when I travel. While traveling it can be difficult to control what and when I eat. I’ve found I tend to have a schedule for my eating habits as this helps me to make smart, healthy choices and develop these choices into a lifestyle as opposed to a “diet”. (Stat about people who eat same thing every day) This feeling, and odious trait, is what Luke likes to call “Hangry Gen”. It’s a feeling that takes over during the short 30 seconds between me being a happy-go-lucky, energized woman to a tired, grumpy, and starving monster.

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Source: Parade: What to Do When You Fall Off the Fitness Band Wagon 

It ends up, this “hangry” trait is no made up lingo, and science explains that it is in fact a real thing. When we feel hunger starting to take over, our bodies start to experience a drop in our glucose levels which leads to a drop in our energy levels and self-control. But fear not, this “hangry monster” can be controlled, unlike the childhood monster we may have found hidden in our closets as a kid.

Don’t skip meals – Aim to have either three substantial meals and a couple of snacks in between or five to six small meals throughout the day.

Eat at least every four hours – Waiting longer than this is what causes your blood sugar levels to drop and energy levels plummet.

Try to eat at the same time every day – You don’t have to set an alarm, though I have heard of some people who do to ensure they don’t forget to eat and stay on schedule. However, by eating around the same time daily, you get to know when hunger tends to hit your body and how to avoid being in an emotion state of “hanger”.

Avoid simple carbohydrates – These are broken down quickly in the body and therefore don’t leave us feeling satisfied for long as they cause our energy levels to shoot up and then drop. Natural sugars are great to help boost our energy, but avoid ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, sucrose, and ­­­­­­article sweeteners known as aspartame and sucralose.

Instead, grab a snickers something substantial – Look for foods that will leave you feeling satisfied and energized for a period of time. These foods should consist of

Complex carbs – these help provide the energy you need. Try to include foods with whole grains listed as the first couple of ingredients.
            Protein and good fats – which help you to feel fuller and energized longer.
            Fiber and high water content – to help fill you up and typically will provide vitamins and minerals your body needs. Aim for 5 g per a serving.

Be a smart snacker! – The Hartman Group conducted a study on what drives people’s snacking habits. They found that 36% of snacking is driven by our emotions and 28% is due to our social behaviors or culture. Try to keep snacks on hand for when you feel yourself beginning to get hungry but don’t have time for an actual meal.

Here are some examples of snacks you can keep on hand if you are traveling or on the go frequently with little time to prepare or grab a meal (which we often are in our busy lifestyles).

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Source:  Real Dana         

Nut Butter and Apples: Peanut butter on pretty much anything is one of my favorite snacks. Bananas, celery, carrots, strawberries, apples, you name it and I’ve probably tried to put peanut butter on it. The protein and fats help to fill me while the natural sugars give me the boost of energy I need to get through that 3:00 pm lag during the day.
                       
            Almonds, Seeds, and Dried Fruit: The almonds give you the protein you need and the seeds help supply a healthy fat for your diet. Just be careful with dried fruits as they can contain a high amount of sugar, so a little bit goes a long way. This snack is easy to prep early in the week by placing in individual portion controlled bags and taking one on the go.  

            Cheese and Avocado on Whole Grain Crackers: Whole grains contain complex carbs which take longer for your body to break down and you’ll get protein from the cheese with a little bit of good fat from the avocado to help you feel full longer.

            Cottage Cheese with Sliced Almonds, Cinnamon, and Berries: This is another one of my favorite snacks as the cottage cheese and almonds provide protein and fats and the berries have a high water content and fiber to help me feel full. The cinnamon adds a little taste and also is a metabolism booster!

What’s your go to snack when the “hangry monster” starts to attack?

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Mom Should Wash Your Mouth Out for Saying This Four-Letter Word

Growing up, the word diet was never allowed to come out of my or my sister’s mouth. You may as well have spouted out any other four-letter word that was banned from our vocabulary as a child! That’s how strongly we were discouraged from using it. As we got older and started to take interest in the way we felt and looked in our bodies, we were encouraged to make healthy decisions and incorporate them into our lifestyles instead of saying we were on a “diet”. Yet I remember sitting at the lunch table and listening to some of my friends say they couldn’t enjoy the strawberries dipped in chocolate I’d made, my specialty that I brought to every social gathering, because prom was a month out and they were on a diet. With my mouth full of sweet strawberries hugged with milk chocolate goodness – this was before dark chocolate was all the rage – I questioned them, “Why not just one?”

“Peace and love means just one or two of mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies.”

 

So what’s wrong with just one? Why do we feel that in order to obtain the physique we want and be happy in our bodies that we have to deprive ourselves of the things we enjoy? There’s a phrase, and a possible solution to this question, that can be applied to many areas in life. It’s called “Everything in moderation.”

What happens when we place restrictions in our diet?

When we forbid ourselves from something, we’re really just drawing our thoughts to it. Remember Bobby the football player from English class who never gave you the time of day? You probably went out of your way to make sure you passed by his locker between every class period. Why? Because the brain wants what it can’t have. Researchers at University of British Columbia found that when we place a ban on something, our brain focuses on that one thing more than we normally would. Also, when we eliminate certain foods from our diet – say carbs or all fats – we risk missing out on essential nutrients and could even be raising our risk of disease. Instead, the key here is to practice balance and moderation.

 

If you aren’t used to living an “in moderation” lifestyle, then what steps can you take towards one?

Portion sizes – If you aren’t reading the labels on your foods, start now! You may be surprised to know that the big bowl of cereal you poured this morning actually has a serving size of one cup, not a full bowl and the handful that followed as you were putting the box back in the cupboard.

Smaller dishes – The mind is tricked into thinking it is consuming less when there is more space around your food. Therefore you’re likely to fill your plate with more food or go back for seconds even if you’re full. Use a smaller dish and incorporate portion sizes to avoid overeating.

Be mindful – We are always on the go and because of this we tend to rush through eating and don’t give our brain the 20 minutes it needs to recognize when it’s full. By eating slowly and taking more time to chew your food, you are able to recognize the cues that your body is sending telling you that you’ve had enough.

Recognize your trigger points – When you go for that candy bar making eyes at you from the vending machine at work instead of the apple and peanut butter you packed, think about what it is that’s making you feel the need to splurge. Did a coworker just snap at you? Are you feeling like you need a little 3 o’clock in the afternoon pick-me-up? Make note of what it is and find an alternative to deal with these triggers such as going for a brisk walk or keeping that apple close at hand to avoid temptation.

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Source: Rottenecards

So what’s the verdict then? How do we enjoy the things we love in life that have the potential to be oh so bad for us, and still rock that two piece on the beach this summer? First, stop telling yourself “no!” and placing restrictions on your diet and instead, practice being mindful of your decisions and what you put in your body – life’s too short to not have that chocolate dipped strawberry!