Anger + Hunger = Hanger

During the past few years, people have coined a new state of being, not hungry, not angry, but hangry.  This term means that you are hungry and because you are hungry, you are angry about it.  In this definition, the hunger is causing you to be angry, but I’m not sure how scientifically accurate this is.  I am a frequent claimer of being hangry, often getting easily irritable when I have not eaten in a while, and I want to find out if there is any science behind the state of being hangry.  Is there reason why people become angry when they feel hungry?

It turns out that the body does react to hunger in ways that could relate to and cause anger in people.  As described in this article by a senior research fellow at the University of Sydney, hanger (the state of being hungry and angry) is a real thing.  According to this explaination, the beneficial parts of what we eat will be decomposed into simple sugars, amino acids, and free fatty sugars during the digestion process, which are nutrients that the body needs to function normally.  As you get hungry, less of these nutrients are left circulating in your blood stream.  When these levels get too low the brain begins to panic and acts in ways to raise these levels. Glucose is a very important part of brain function, when glucose levels drop too much, the brain must react to fix this.

A drop in glucose levels can cause many things, one of them being controlling your temper. Controlling your temper takes a lot of energy from your brain, and when glucose levels are down, your brain does not have enough energy to control this all of the time.  It has been found that the people who usually suffer from your hanger are people that you care the most about because you are more comfortable around them and your brain does not see the need to use its last bits of energy controlling your temper.  This is all too accurate for me, as my mom and my best friends are the people who usually experience my hanger fits.

Another reason for hanger is related to the common stress response known among psychologists as the flight-or-fight response.  In the brain’s attempts to raise glucose levels, the body releases a lot of hormones, one being adrenaline.  This release of adrenaline can make you act as if you are in the presence of stress and are reacting in a way of fight-or-flight.  By choosing to take the fight route, you may be taking the actions of yelling at someone or showing a short temper to defend yourself.

After reading all of this information, I am happy to say that there is mechanism behind being hangry that directly relates being hungry and becoming angry.  This to me is great news!! Now the next time you snap at someone while hangry, you can simply blame it on your body’s response to being angry.  Not only will the person who you snapped at probably become less angry at you, but if your lucky they might insist that you get some food in you too!! Since there is a known mechanism to hanger, it is quite easy to figure out how to overcome it.  Make sure to be smart when trying to combat hanger though.  Some foods are better than others!  Nutritional foods are always the better option because they provide more nutrients for your brain and your body.  Although Snickers candy bars commercials may suggest otherwise, candy and junk food will not help your body in the long run, so fuel up on a healthy, nutritional snack and strike back against hanger!


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2 thoughts on “Anger + Hunger = Hanger

  1. Jennafer Palmer

    This post describes my life as being a student that lives off campus. On the days that I do not pack my lunch and do not feel like buying food at the HUB I find myself getting hangry as the day drags on and eventually comes to a close. On the days that I do cave in and buy something at a commons store or at the HUB it’s never really nutritional, just something to take the edge off the hunger. But it definitely makes sense that eating nutritional foods will fuel the body more and keep being hangry under control.

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