Updated May 26th, 2024 at 23:59 IST

The Science Behind Hangry: Understanding The Condition And How To Manage It

Maintaining balanced eating habits and recognising hunger signals can help keep your mood steady and interactions pleasant.

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Ever found yourself snapping at others or feeling unreasonably irritated only to realize you’re just hungry? This common phenomenon, known as "hangry" (a blend of hungry and angry), has a scientific basis that ties mood closely to our eating habits. Here’s why we get hangry and how to handle it better.

The Food-Mood Connection

Research underscores a strong link between what we eat and how we feel, as per a Healthline report. Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can elevate serotonin levels, improving mood and mental well-being. Conversely, diets high in processed foods are often associated with increased risks of depression and anxiety. When stressed or feeling low, people might overeat or completely lose their appetite, illustrating how mood influences eating habits.

Image credit: Pinterest
Image credit: Pinterest

Why We Get Hangry: The Science

Health experts explain that hangriness results from drops in blood sugar levels. Our brains require a constant supply of glucose for optimal function. When we go too long without eating, blood sugar dips, impairing brain function and emotional regulation. This can lead to irritability and aggression.

Image credit: Pinterest
Image credit: Pinterest

The Role of Hormones

Several hormones are involved in this process. When we’re hungry, our body releases ghrelin, a hormone that signals the brain to seek food. If ignored, the body responds by releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which heighten feelings of stress and irritability.

Blood Sugar and Brain Function

Low blood sugar affects the brain’s energy supply, leading to poor mood regulation. The brain's struggle for energy results in irritability and anger. Studies have shown that low blood sugar can trigger the release of cortisol and adrenaline, both linked to stress and aggressive behavior.

Managing Hangry Episodes

Understanding the science behind being hangry can help manage it better. Regular, balanced meals can keep blood sugar levels stable. Incorporating protein, fiber, and healthy fats into meals can slow digestion and provide a steady energy supply. Additionally, recognizing early hunger cues and addressing them promptly can prevent mood swings.

Next time you feel a surge of irritation, consider whether hunger might be the culprit. Maintaining balanced eating habits and recognizing hunger signals can help keep your mood steady and interactions pleasant.

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Published May 26th, 2024 at 23:59 IST