What’s the buzz? In pop culture, people frequently talk about the feeling of being “hangry” — a hybrid of the words hungry and angry. Can food (or a lack thereof) really affect our emotions? What does the science say?
When there are long gaps between meals, blood sugar (or glucose) levels drop. Our brain, which runs primarily on glucose, responds by releasing stress hormones. These stress hormones, such as adrenaline, are part of our bodies’ “fight or flight” survival mechanism and, when released, will initiate emotions such as anger, aggression, or lack of control – in other words, we feel “hangry”. This feeling of hanger may also be in conjunction with reduced concentration, light-headedness, or fatigue. Food, particularly carbohydrates, provides glucose to the brain, which is then better able to control emotions. However, eating regularly spaced meals that also contain protein, fat, and fiber-rich carbohydrates, which slow digestion, can keep your blood sugar steady and keep that hangry feeling from making an appearance.
What’s the take-away:
Hanger is real! Hunger does play a role in emotions. Keep healthy snacks like nuts or a piece of fruit on hand to curb those pesky hunger pangs, and aim to eat every 3-4 hours to keep hanger from showing up in the first place.