Is Hangry Really a Thing?
It happened to me just the other day — I felt the angst and irritability setting in, my stomach was growling, my energy was tanking, and my head was pounding. I was straight up hangry! Does this clever play on words have any science to back it up? Find out.
The foods we eat influence our blood glucose (aka blood sugar) levels. Eating carbohydrate-rich foods causes a surge of glucose to enter the bloodstream, giving the body quick and easily usable energy. Sugary junk foods will raise blood glucose, as will high-fiber carbs like fruit, veggies and whole grains. These healthier carb options elevate blood sugar in a more sensible way, providing more sustained and even-keeled energy.
They key to avoiding those hanger pains is to keep blood sugar levels stable. Science has shown that dips in blood sugar can lead to increased feelings of aggression and lack of self-control. A study published in 2011 found a link between low blood sugar and aggressive behavior. A 2014 study conducted with married couples found that increased aggression toward spouses occurred when blood sugar levels were low — some food for thought during your next date night.
While this term might not catch on, there are some solid ways to keep hunger and anger at bay. Use these tips to keep energy levels high and your mood pleasant.
- Get your blood sugar going bright and early — always eat something for breakfast.
- Don’t let energy plummet — avoid going long stretches without eating.
- Choose healthy carbs at meals and snacks, and balance them with lean protein and healthy fats for long-lasting energy.
- Opt for snacks high in protein, fiber and healthy fat, like trail mix, smoothies, peanut butter crackers, Greek yogurt and low-fat cheese.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.