Are you moody or hangry? No! You’re not a monster!

  • Have you known anyone who said they suffer from the hangry monster?

  • Do you know someone who becomes impatient and angry often (sometimes when they’re hungry)?

  • Do know anyone who experiences mood swings, for no clear reason?

  • Have you ever observed a moody toddler with an amazing parent, who made it clear they knew it was time to eat, and who knew that eating would avoid or resolve the “terrible twos”?

  • Is the way to a (wo)man’s heart really through her/his stomach?

Sometimes I Had No Fun

As a new endurance athlete (for the first few years of my middle-aged Cycling and Running career), I regularly experienced times on long runs and bike rides (usually over two hours in length) where I’d be having no fun.

No fun, like, “I hate this. What am I doing here? What was I thinking? Who in their right mind would do this? I’m ready for this to be over. This has gone on too long.”

These moods seemed to appear out of nowhere, but once in place, they seemed like they’d been there the entire time, like the misery was ceaseless, permanent, and unresolvable.

These experiences were enough to take the fun out of the experience, to leave me not wanting to repeat them, but they often occurred miles from help, home, or the car. The only option available was to keep moving forward: walking, hiking, running, or pedaling, to a place where I could finally stop.

Fat guy on a bike having a hard time
iStock/riskms

I Noticed Something Interesting

However, over time and repeated occurrences, I noticed something interesting.

The Moods Disappeared As Unexpectedly As They Arrived

Eventually, I began to realize the foul moods could disappear just as unexpectedly and mysteriously as they arrived. One minute, I’d be miserable. A little while later, I’d experience a sense of wonder about the surroundings, or the peace of commune with nature: green grass, tall trees, blue skies, puffy white clouds, and a warm breeze — despite a seemingly endless series of half-mile upward grades to slowly, meticulously, arduously, ascend, one after another, after another, after another…

There Was A Pattern

I began to notice the odd, inexplicable shifts in mood, from hatred to peace, from misery to joy, from hopelessness to wonder and curiosity. Then I struck on a pattern.

Food Makes The Difference

As a well-coached endurance athlete, I always had food of some sort on long runs, races, and rides. Work out for a long time (go too long without enough calories), get hangry. Eat, and a few minutes later mood alters.

I have discovered it as a natural law:

  • When glucose becomes low in my blood, my mood shifts for the worse.
  • When I take care of myself and eat, mood improves.

This even happens when I’m not exercising, such as in “the afternoon low”.

Hungry Monster
Do you experience the hangry monster?

The Answer

The answer, of course, is to eat on a schedule that avoids the cycle. Or, to notice the mood shift, then get something to eat.

Both approaches take a little planning ahead to have a meal or snack available, or to have time to get one.

What is one change you can make in your routine, either to have a meal or snack available, or time available on your calendar to arrange one?

Have you noticed similar patterns in your mood and feeding cycle?

What one change will you make, to have food available before or after you’re hangry?

Write a comment below.


Also published on Medium.

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