Have you ever been so hungry that you feel angry and irritated at, well, just about everything? And then as soon as you’ve scarfed down some food, those feelings dissipate? Well, it turns out that that feeling of hunger and anger, otherwise known as being ‘hangry’ is in fact a real thing — a new study has discovered that there is a link between hunger and our emotions.
Researchers asked 64 participants ranging in age from 18 to 60 years old and who were predominantly women, to report their hunger, anger, irritability, pleasure and arousal at five different times each day. They found that those who were feeling hungry reported greater feelings of anger and irritability.
Hunger was associated with lower levels of pleasure
The study results showed that negative emotions including irritability, anger, and lower pleasure were all tied to feelings of hunger. “It turns out that being hangry is a real thing,” said one of the study authors, Viren Swami.
“When our blood sugar starts to drop, our brain starts to kind of malfunction, and we get confused, we get irritable,” said nutrition coordinator Jennifer Cholewka, who reviewed the study findings.
What to do when you feel hangry
Sometimes, you might become hangry without even realizing it. It might not even be until someone points out that you’re cranky that you realize your stomach is rumbling. But the simplest way to counteract hanger is by making sure you have something to munch on.
“Don’t go hungry,” Swami said. “Though for a lot of people that is easier said than done,” he added.
Swami and the other researchers also pointed to existing research that suggests being able to label an emotion by naming those feelings is a helpful way to help people regulate their emotions. So by recognizing when you’re in a hangry mood, you can better manage that feeling.
“A lot of the time, we might be aware of what we are feeling but not understand the cause of it. If we can label it, we are better able to do something about it,” he said.
If you know that you’re someone whose mood drops when they’re hungry, it might be time to consider keeping some snacks in your bag so that you can stop those hangry emotions in their tracks.