Have you ever heard Snicker’s tag line used in their commercials that says, “You’re not you when you are hungry”? Well, hate to break this to you, but this is completely true. Do you get cranky often? Or snap out and later regret it? Do you have an attitude until you eat? You might be suffering from hangry, but what is it? “Hangry is an adjective that describes being irritable due to hunger” (merriam-webster, 2017).
When you eat, the carbohydrates, fats and proteins in food converts into glucose which is sugar. These nutrients enter our bloodstream and is dispersed to our organs and brain. As time passes by our glucose levels start to diminish, but if these levels decrease too much then our brain perceives this as life threatening. Our brain only uses glucose as fuel and even though our it accounts for 2% of our body’s mass, it needs approximately 23% of our energy intake. Not only that, but our organs release stress hormones like cortisol when glucose levels are low. This alone changes our mood drastically.
Genes also play a major role in hangry. For instance, our genes release a chemical called neuropeptide Y and different receptors like Y1. Both neuropeptide Y and Y1 regulate anger in the brain. An increased level of these in the brain contribute to abrupt anger. Basically, hangry is a survival mechanism. In the past, our ancestors couldn’t lay back and just wait for food to pass by. They had to act out in order not to die from hunger.
But don’t worry there are foods you can snack on when hangry. Nuts, fruits, tuna and crackers, chips and guacamole, Greek yogurt with granola or fruit, humus and veggies, avocados or oatmeal can keep you calm until your next meal. The trick here is to eat foods that contain protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Protein is an organic compound that consists of long chains of amino acid. Basically, protein helps maintain blood glucose levels. It allows different brain regions to communicate effectively improving your mood. Fiber is a plant based nutrient, that helps food move through the digestive tract. This is important because it allows our body to eliminate substances we don’t need. Without enough fiber in our diet we get clogged affecting our mood. Antioxidants are compounds the help delay cell damage. What this does is that it keeps our body and mind healthy. It is also important to avoid junk food because even though it calm your anger down it will generally produce an increase in blood-glucose that will crash down quickly.
Eating when you are hungry sometimes isn’t possible due to our busy schedules, so try and keep healthy snacks near you to munch on. And remember, “You’re not you when you are hungry”.
Alison Wilkinson. (2017). 11 Best Foods to Eat When You’re Hangry. Retrieved from: http://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/hangry-foods-to-eat/
Brain Babble. (2016). Why Do We Get “Hangry”?. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-babble/201607/why-do-we-get-hangry
Meriam-Webster. (2017). What’s Hangry?. Retrieved from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/hangry-meaning
The conversation. (2015). Health Check: the science of ‘hangry’, or why some people get grumpy when they’re hungry. Retrieved from: http://theconversation.com/health-check-the-science-of-hangry-or-why-some-people-get-grumpy-when-theyre-hungry-37229