Many of us joke about being “hangry” — a term that describes the familiar feeling of hunger making you bad-tempered or irritable. Now, “hanger” isn’t just clever slang: It’s actually a real phenomenon — and one that can be avoided.
You might experience hangriness as a rage that comes over you when you haven’t eaten in several hours, your blood sugar drops too low and, say, your significant other looks at you the wrong way. Or, perhaps you’re ravenous and sitting in a restaurant and your order is taking too long, so you (accidentally) snap and say some not-so-nice things to the server. Watch out for hanger!
“To avoid the “hangry” blood-sugar fluctuations, eat protein and healthy fats every four hours — aiming for around 10-15 grams of clean protein and 5 grams of healthy fats.
Why? “Full-fat foods help to keep you satiated and insulin levels stable — avoiding the mood-altering crash.” I would typically recommends the following foods:
- Small amounts of protein
- A handful of walnuts, almonds or macadamia nuts
- A mid-afternoon smoothie with flax, greens and a scoop of protein powder
It’s good advice for sure, but what if there were more to hanger than just low blood sugar?
“We’ve all felt hungry, recognized the unpleasantness as hunger, had a sandwich and felt better.” “I find that feeling hangry happens when you feel unpleasantness due to hunger but interpret those feelings as strong emotions about other people or the situation you’re in.”
You can experiment and see for your self, fast for 5-8 hours one day and write a emotional essay to tap into your self-awareness and then look at photos of (a cute kitten), negative (a snarling dog) or neutral (a rock) photos, see what how your mind is seeing things. Then the next day eat every 2-3 hours and repeat the same project again and see the different, when we don’t eat often the negative effect it has on our mind, attitude, body. Then when the day you eat every 2-3 hours and repeat the project see the different in how you see things in a more calm, positive light.
“The idea here is that the negative images provided a context for people to interpret their hunger feelings as meaning the pictographs were unpleasant. “So there seems to be something, you will see what is so special about unpleasant situations that makes people draw on their hunger feelings more than, say, in pleasant or neutral situations.”
There is a mind-body connection when it comes to hunger, fatigue or even illness. “Our bodies play a powerful role in shaping our moment-to-moment experiences, perceptions and behaviors—whether we are hungry versus full, tired versus rested or sick versus healthy.” Being aware of these feelings are not only important for long-term mental health, “but also for the day-to-day quality of our psychological experiences, social relationships and work performance.”
“It becomes more like, ‘maybe that person isn’t a terrible person. Maybe I’m just hungry.”
So next time you start feeling a bit angry on an empty stomach, try to take it easy on whoever is in the room with you — and make sure to get some foods in that tummy ASAP!
Do you get hangry? Does this offer a sensible explanation behind the phenomenon? Other than eating, what do you do to avoid hunger-based anger?
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