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Health and Fitness News

Watch Out—Mom’s Hangry!

Hungry and angry is a bad combo.

When some people get hungry, their stomach rumbles, they feel weak, or they have trouble concentrating. For others, hunger triggers a change in their mood. Everyone around them knows they need to eat.

When it’s been hours since breakfast and lunch can’t get here soon enough, you may become hangry—a word that describes someone who’s more than hungry. They’re hungry and angry. As a result, they become irritable, short-tempered, and crabby. In other words, they’re no fun to be around.

If you’ve never been hangry, you likely know someone who has. Why does this happen and what can be done about it?

Blame Your Hormones

Unless you’ve been there yourself, you may think being hangry is a farce. But there’s actually a physiological reason for hanger. Going too long without food makes your blood sugar drop. When this happens, your body releases cortisol and epinephrine in an attempt to bring blood sugar back to normal levels. These two hormones have other important jobs in the body, but they can affect your mood. When brought on by hunger, they’ll make you irritable, more impulsive, and aggressive. The lower your blood sugar falls, the hangrier you’ll get.

Another hormone may play a role in hanger. When your body’s ready for more food, it releases neuropeptide Y to increase feelings of hunger. Unfortunately, this hormone is also associated with aggression.

Managing Hanger

Mom’s hungry and she’s exhibiting signs of hanger. What should she do? Eat! If your tendency is to get irritable when you’re hungry, keep a stash of healthy, nutritious snacks on hand so you don’t go too long between meals. When you feel yourself getting short-tempered and dinner’s still an hour away, eat a little snack to hold you over. A handful of trail mix, a piece of fruit, or a cup or yogurt may be all you need to feel like yourself again. Your family will thank you.

In the moments when you’re feeling hangry, avoid stressful situations, big (or small) decisions, and interactions with others. Once you eat something and your blood sugar returns to a normal level, you should be good to go.

Preventing Hanger

You don’t want to be snappy with your family or yell just because you’re hungry. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent hanger. Plan to eat three meals a day and a snack in between each meal. Keep healthy snacks with you, whether that’s in your purse, the car, or your desk at work.

And remember to eat the right kinds of food. Junk food, simple carbs, and sugary foods lead to fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. This is bad for your health. It’s also more likely to cause you to feel hangry. Instead, focus on nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean protein. Make sure each meal and snack contains a source of fiber and protein to help maintain blood sugar levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Hanger Danger

The obvious consequence of hanger is your bad attitude and short temper. No one wants to be around someone who’s hangry.

Another danger of hanger is that it triggers cravings for carbs and sugar. Your blood sugar is low and your body knows these foods lead to a spike in blood sugar. The problem? That spike doesn’t last long and soon leads to a crash. Reaching for carbs and sugar when you’re hangry is a recipe for weight gain and health problems. Make better choices, and you’ll take the edge off your hanger and keep your waistline in check at the same time.