Being hungry/angry – aka hangry – is a real thing and not only does science say so, there is also an explanation as to why it happens.
It’s a term that came out of nowhere and it’s is now in most people’s vocabulary – but recently, the science behind it has been explained.
Apparently, the main reason we become irritable when we’re hungry is because our blood glucose level drops, making it ‘difficult for us to concentrate and more likely to snap at those around us’. We all know somebody like this, and if you don’t, it’s probably you.
— Dilan Navarro (@Flykidddd) July 16, 2017
Simon Oxenham, writing in the New Scientist, says being hangry can also affect your work life and your relationships.
Low blood sugar also triggers the release of stress-related hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, as well as a chemical called neuropeptide Y, which has been found to make people behave more aggressively towards those around them.
This can all have an alarming effect on how you feel about other people – even those you love.
According to Mr Oxenham, a study of married couples asked them to stick pins into voodoo dolls that represented their loved ones, to ‘reflect how angry they felt towards them’.
The volunteers then competed against their spouse in a game, in which the winner could blast loud noise through the loser’s headphones.
The researchers tracked the participants’ blood glucose levels throughout. They found that when people had lower sugar levels, the longer the blasts of unpleasant noise they subjected their spouse to, and the more pins they stuck into their dolls.
But while being hungry really does change your behaviour, the effects of hanger have sometimes been overstated. One study that attracted attention a few years ago found that judges are less likely to set lenient sentences the closer it gets to lunch.
To be fair, I could have told you this ages ago, I’m surrounded by it. My boyfriend can be the grumpiest person out when he hasn’t eaten in a while.
And my mum used to have to take snacks on the school run to stop my sister being a total nightmare on the way home.
So there it is – if you’re one of these hanger-prone people, please, for the sake of us around you, pack snacks.