Hanger is a Real Thing
Ever skipped meals or eaten less in anticipation of a big meal later? Chances are, you got hangry. Hangry is a hybrid of the words hungry and angry that illustrate the simmering grouchiness that goes along with waiting too long to eat. There have been stories in the news about people lashing out aggressively over little things when hangry.
Hanger is an actual physiological phenomenon. When you are hungry your body is low on blood glucose. When you haven’t eaten recently the brain receives all kinds of signals to behave aggressively. Aggressive and violent behaviors are regulated by self-control. Self-control requires glucose to be present in the brain. When blood glucose is in short supply, the body compensates by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, increase aggressive behavior that fuels your hanger.
The best way to avoid getting hangry is to eat regularly. There are lots of ways to do that including eating 5 small meals a day or observing the “four-hour rule”. To avoid hanger, don’t wait until you have hunger pangs, but rather try to stay ahead of them.
While hangry is a thing, don’t confuse it with low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. While it can cause you to feel hangry, that doesn’t mean your blood sugar has fallen below a normal range. The difference can be subtle. When blood sugar levels dip below the normal range, you may experience a lack of energy, headache, shakiness, or irritability. For a diabetic, low blood sugar can be a life threatening situation.
What should you eat when you’re hangry? Slow burning foods like fiber-rich carbohydrates and protein, are good choices. Missed the window to eat? No worries. Fruit offers the body lots of easily accessible sugars and is a great choice for getting your brain a quick hit of energy. As soon as possible you should eat a regular, well-balanced meal. The balance of fat, carbs and protein will level your blood sugar and keep it from spiking.