Last Updated on May 29, 2017 by Michael Brockbank
How often do you feel “hangry?” This is the slang term for when you haven’t eaten and you feel like you could kick a kitten across the room. Not that you ever would, but it’s the feeling of being angry that accumulates the longer you go without food. Why do you feel this way and will a Snickers really help?
What Makes You Angry when You’re Hungry?
A lot of people who are on a diet often find themselves being quick to explode in anger. This is especially true for diabetics and those who are considered hypoglycemic. There are times when the smallest things set me off.
Low Glucose Levels
Glucose levels, also known as your blood-sugar level, is one of the biggest reasons why people snap when they haven’t eaten enough. Contrary to the belief of some, sugar is not the enemy. In fact, your brain relies on glucose to function properly.
When the glucose within your bloodstream drops too low, several automated responses happen. One of which increases aggression because your brain is perceiving the lack of glucose as a threat to your life.
Look at how drug addiction affects humans. One of the signs of withdrawal is a heightened sense of aggression as the person strives to get what he or she “thinks” the addict needs. Being hungry is similar in response as a person gets increasingly angry.
A Flood of Hormones in the Body
The brain tries to regulate what is happening within the body with the tools at its disposal. This comes in the form of releasing hormones from various glands throughout the body. It tries to keep itself functional by telling organs to create certain elements or produce hormones to keep itself alive.
The end result is the release of various elements that increase stress levels while putting the body into a defensive position. The pituitary gland, pancreas and adrenal glands all chip in to keep the brain from shutting down due to a lack of glucose.
The two that are the most prevalent in this situation are adrenaline and cortisol…which are also apparent during high-stress situations. In a way, you’re going into “anger mode” before anything really makes angry. The fight-or-flight response is heightened as eating becomes your primary objective.
In other words, you’ll take offense to things you wouldn’t normally consider.
Development of Neuropeptide Y
One component the body produces to control appetite is neuropeptide Y. Neuropeptides are groups of compounds which perform like neurotransmitters for the brain. In this case, neuropeptide Y influences the stress response and food intake of any particular person.
Neuropeptide Y affects how you perceive stress as well as driving you to eat. Have you ever seen a tiger protect its food at dinner time in a zoo? It’s often extremely aggressive and may cause the brain to tell the bladder to release urine if you’re standing too close.
The response is similar in humans. It is believed this peptide increases aggression.
The Best Way to Address Being Hangry
Once you get to the point of pulling the head off of a stuffed animal, what’s the best way to go about regulating yourself? It is a bit difficult at times as the hormones coursing through your body are reducing the capacity for rational thought.
The first step is to realize what is happening so you can do what needs to be done to regulate emotions.
Try to limit interactions with others until you’ve had time to eat something. Because the brain is putting you into a primal state, the instinct to eat in this case, you’re less likely to focus and think clearly anyway. And the longer you go without eating, the shorter the fuse becomes.
Many of us, myself included, can easily become fixated on the smallest of issues. As time progresses, it makes for an extremely bad day.
Eating Foods that Benefit
Will a Snickers help quell the anger and aggression when your hangry? Yes. But not for very long. It’s a good temporary fix and the body will quickly go through the sugars within the candy bar. After which, you’ll crash unless you have something more substantial to regulate the glucose in the body.
Don’t get me wrong, candy or something very sweet is a good way to subside punching someone in the face while standing in line at the grocery store. But you shouldn’t rely on it as a solution. It should be thought of more like using a spare tire. Sure it’ll get you home, but you don’t want to take it on the freeway for long distances.
Orange juice, or any other fruit juice for that matter, is an excellent food to help you calm down. Not only will the natural sugars give the brain what it needs, but it’s also a liquid. It takes far less time for the digestion system to absorb elements from liquids than solids.
This means the juice has potential to reduce being angry faster than a candy bar. And no, putting a Snickers into a blender with almond milk isn’t really the healthiest alternative.
Approach Stressful Situations After Eating
A good way to avoid making yourself look like an ass at work or at home is to approach stressful situations after eating. If you’re prone to hypoglycemia, this is crucial. Remember, you’re not thinking clearly and you’ll be more apt to making irrational decisions you’ll later regret.
Keep in mind the brain has a way of forcing you to do certain things. It will shut you down if you don’t address its needs. Whether it’s eating more or getting enough sleep, your brain will take the reins to keep itself alive.
The brain will do everything in its power to remain functional. In some cases, this led to internal organs being shut down to prolong its own activity. Your brain is an extremely selfish organ and will begin to wreak havoc if you don’t pay attention to it.
Don’t Hulk Out…
Before you detonate like a redneck at a Trump rally, make sure you eat enough to keep your emotions in check. You don’t have to starve yourself to lose weight or be healthy. Just pick foods that will help you regulate your emotions and blood-sugar levels.