Could a Snack Save Your Marriage?

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies: Cathy Lowe

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Here's some satisfying news for those who get super crabby when they're hungry and take it out on their spouses (if not for those poor, long-suffering spouses themselves). Scientific research has now determined that being "hangry" — hungry plus angry — is actually a real phenomenon, which means you have a total excuse to storm around and fume about random trivial things until someone — Anyone? Hello! — hands you a cracker or a piece of fruit. Or, well, if not an excuse, at least an explanation for that altogether charming behavior.

"People are often the most aggressive against the people to whom they are closest — intimate partners . Intimate partner violence might be partly a result of poor self-control. Self-control of aggressive impulses requires energy, and much of this energy is provided by glucose derived from the food we eat," researchers explain in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) under the headline "Low glucose relates to greater aggression in married couples."

The authors gauged 107 married couples' glucose levels over a period of 21 days, which sounds straightforward enough. But how to measure "aggressive impulses"? Funny you should ask. They gave each study participant a voodoo doll representing his or her spouse and asked each to stick zero to 51 pins into the doll in accordance with his or her level of anger. Ah, science. But wait, that's not all. The researchers also gave study participants headphones through which to torment their spouses with loud, unpleasant noises, again in accordance with their anger levels.

"Participants who had lower glucose levels stuck more pins into the voodoo doll and blasted their spouse with louder and longer noise blasts," the authors found.

Maybe instead of throwing rice at weddings, we should all throw sugar.

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