Are you really “Hangry”?

Are you really “Hangry”?

Are you really “Hangry”?

We have all seen the candy bar commercial where someone is angry, or irritable and once the person eats, they become pleasant and content. You could also see this happening if you are the parent of a toddler who calms down instantly after you offer them a snack. Noticing a change in behavior from angry before a meal and happy after a meal is common, but is there science behind this phenomenon? Are you really “hangry” or are your emotions and hunger just coinciding?

What is “Hanger”

Hanger is the feeling of irritation and annoyance that you may feel when you are hungry. The word is a combination of the words hungry and angry and it is commonly used when someone is expressing negative emotions due to an empty stomach. You may have witnessed a hangry person when out to eat at a restaurant and the food is taking a little longer than expected. Hanger may take over and cause impatience and irritability. When you are hungry, the slightest inconvenience seems like a catastrophe, but why? 

Studying “Hanger”

Though the word “hangry” seems made up and a little silly, there are actually studies that show the effects of hunger on our emotions. According to an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, there is a psychological shift that occurs when we are hungry. The findings of this study also show:

  • Empty-stomached participants in the study gave negative feedback when tasked with an inconvenience or annoying situation. 
  • When we are hungry, our hormones are affected – just like they would be affected by fear, sadness, and anger
  • The lack of nutrients in our brains causes us to be unable to filter our emotions or control our reactions to situations

Combating “Hanger”

Feeling angry, irritable, and impatient can be problematic when we are trying to get through our day at work, at school, or at home with our families. At its root, hanger is a message to our brains that something is not right in our bodies and we need to fix it. One way to combat hanger is by taking measures to ensure that your body doesn’t get too hungry. Snacking throughout the day, especially when you know there may be a long period in between meals, is a great way to combat hunger and keep you from becoming hangry. Additionally, you can practice being self-aware of how you react and pinpoint the moment where you feel the hanger set in.  

Expressing our emotions in a negative way can have a major impact on ourselves and those around us. Talk with your doctor about how you can ensure you’re taking in an adequate amount of nutrients throughout the day. Check out our providers to make an appointment and learn how you can keep your nutrition on track and avoid feeling “hangry”. 




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