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Eating your way to happiness

By Country News

Have you ever been guilty of snapping angrily at someone when you were hungry?

Research has identified exactly what causes the emotive response to hunger, commonly known as ‘hanger’, and what foods to eat to keep it at bay.

In fact, science proves a diet rich in protein foods, such as eggs, minimises hunger. This in turn will reduce rage and irritability.

‘Hanger’ is a term that refers to the phenomenon of feeling angry and short-tempered when hungry.

As time passes after your last meal, the level of glucose in the blood drops.

When blood glucose levels drop, the body naturally rebalances these levels to maintain energy between meals.

When these levels remain low, the amount of fuel getting to the brain is not optimal and this can be enough to alter mood.

For many, this means instinctively reaching for a high-sugar treat to satisfy cravings.

The bad news is that this ‘quick fix’ will ultimately leave sugar levels crashing even harder later on.

‘‘It has long been known that food and mood are intrinsically linked,’’ leading dietitian and author from Food & Nutrition Australia Sharon Natoli said.

‘‘What and when we eat can have a direct effect on temperament.

‘‘Eating regularly throughout the day and including protein-rich foods at each meal, along with sufficient fibre, can help you to take control of your food intake, by helping you feel fuller for longer and stabilising energy levels that in turn help you maintain a good mood.’’

Ms Natoli said a diet containing highly processed, fried and sugary food was directly linked to low mood and increased the chance of feeling down in the dumps by as much as 36 per cent.

‘‘Carbohydrate foods that are high in added sugar, such as cakes, biscuits and sweet snack bars, can contribute to irregular bursts of energy and unexpected mood swings,’’ she said.

‘‘Research has found that eating healthy, nutrient-rich and high protein foods, such as the humble egg, will keep you fuller for longer.

‘‘This is linked to the fact that protein significantly impacts hormones that regulate appetite, signalling to the brain that no more food is needed.

‘‘Eggs also contain the amino acid, tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the body, a brain chemical that can improve mood and help with relaxation, proving eggs really can be your ‘happy pill’.’’