The Hunger Games: Why Hunger Makes You Angry & How to Tame It
“Oh, you’re hangry!” “Eat something, you’re getting hangry”
When I first heard about the term, “Hangry”, I was confused. I thought, maybe the other person said it wrong. But, no! The more I heard people use this term, the more it became clear. It’s a relatively new word to describe the feelings of hunger and anger at the same time. Now, when I understood this term and its usage, it became easier to identify the feeling I couldn’t name but kept experiencing.
I noticed that when I was hungry, my mood took a nosedive and I became more frustrated, irritable, and angry. I couldn’t figure out why my mood calmed when I ate something, but then the combination of hunger and anger was something I hadn’t connected with before.
What seemed like a trivial annoyance became a fascinating study between food and mood. In this article, that’s what we’re exploring too! We’re taking a look at the reasons why people get hangry, what happens when you’re hangry, and how you can avoid getting hangry.
The Science Behind Hangry: Why Do You Get Hangry?
Hunger-induced anger or feeling hangry is a result of psychological and physiological factors. When we eat, our bodies break down the food we consume into glucose, which also serves as a primary (and only) source of energy in our brains.
Glucose is also an important energy source as it plays a role in our cognitive functions such as decision-making, self-control, and emotional regulation. When you go without food for a long period, then your blood sugar levels can drop, causing a state of hypoglycemia.
Low blood sugar in your body can also trigger cortisol and adrenaline, which can increase feelings of anxiety, frustration, and irritability. Moreover, hunger can alter the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, the neurotransmitters that are involved in mood regulation and emotional regulation. Any kind of imbalance in these chemicals can lead you to develop a negative emotional state.
Apart from low blood sugar, hunger can also affect the levels of other hormones such as insulin and ghrelin. Insulin can help control glucose levels and when you don’t eat for a while, your insulin decreases, causing reduced glucose uptake and an increase in fatigue and irritability. Ghrelin, also called the hunger hormone, increases when you’re hungry, stimulating your appetite and affecting your mood.
When we talk about hormonal changes, hunger also affects your brain’s reward system. When you’re hungry, the brain seeks reward and it intensifies the desire for high-calorie foods as well as quick-energy foods. This is also known as “hedonic hunger”.
This craving you get for carbohydrates and sugary snacks is your body’s attempt to replenish your glucose levels. Unfortunately, eating these types of foods can increase your blood sugar levels, followed by a sugar crash, trapping you in a cycle of hunger and anger.
The Effects of Being Hangry
The effects of being hangry can go beyond being grumpy. Here are some of the effects that can arise from being hangry:
- Low concentration and memory: When you’re hangry, the ability to concentrate and retain memory can be affected. Research has shown that low blood sugar can impair your cognitive functions, affecting memory, and concentration.
- Increased stress: Hunger can activate your body’s stress response, triggering the release of cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones. These stress hormones can affect your mood. Prolonged hunger can cause higher levels of stress that can have negative effects on your well-being.
- Relationship strain: Being hangry can also cause strain in your relationships. Anger and irritability can cause conflicts, arguments, and tension in the relationship. It could be between your loved ones, colleagues, and friends. Identifying the effects of hunger can also cause an inability to prevent strain in relationships.
- Increase in aggression: Low blood sugar combined with stress hormones, and chemical imbalance can increase anger and aggression, causing you to snap at your loved ones, become short-tempered, and become easily agitated.
- Poor decision-making: When you are hangry, it can affect your ability to make rational decisions. Because of your hunger, your prefrontal cortex can be impaired and that, in turn, can affect the part of your brain that is responsible for logical decisions and self-control.
- Negative emotional state: Hunger can also cause you to feel negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, and depression. Combined with mental strain and physical discomfort, it can lead you to feel overwhelmed and also experience emotional outbursts.
Tips to Avoid Getting Hangry
To manage hanger and avoid getting hangry, you can try the following tips;
1. Create a mindful meal plan:
Plan your meals in advance and incorporate them into a balance of carbs and protein to keep your energy sustained throughout the day. You can also include foods that release your energy slowly such as whole grains, legumes, and lean proteins. This will help you avoid sudden sugar crashes and maintain blood sugar levels.
2. Add protein and fiber:
Make sure you add protein and fiber to your meals. These options will help sate your hunger for long periods. You can consider adding fish, tofu, and beans to your meals and fiber-rich foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
3. Snack but keep them balanced:
If you crave snacks between meals, try to choose healthy options that combine carbs, proteins, and fats. This combination can help maintain blood sugar levels and give you energy.
4. Keep yourself hydrated:
Keep drinking water throughout the day. This will not only help keep your mind healthy and active but also keep you from unnecessary cravings. Staying hydrated can also help you feel full when you’re unsure if you’re hungry or not.
5. Take care of your stress:
Try to incorporate stress management into your routine and practice self-care as much as you can. You can try engaging in activities such as exercise, meditation, yoga, and outdoor activities like walking among nature and such. These activities can help promote relaxation and reduce stress as well as hunger-induced anger and irritability.
6. Seek professional support:
If you’re constantly struggling with being hangry or are unable to maintain a balanced diet, then you can try consulting a dietician or a nutritionist for help. A professional can help guide you through your meal plans and stress management techniques to keep you on the right path when it comes to food and mood.
There is a fascinating connection between food and mood that we often overlook. While it’s a complex combination, it’s an intriguing one too and the experience of being hangry can only help us understand this strange yet fascinating connection. Knowing why you get angry when hungry can help you understand how to tame it.
Being hangry can affect your cognitive abilities as well as can have negative effects on your psychological and physiological health. Learning the reasons you get hangry can help you maintain a balanced lifestyle.
You can tame your hanger by eating mindfully, planning meals, and keeping your stress in check. You can also keep your blood sugar levels in check and improve your mood by just changing your food habits.
After all, the path to your well-being is through your stomach!
Did this blog help you learn the connection between hunger and anger and why you get hangry? Let me know if you found this article interesting in the comments below!