Is Being Hangry Real? Science Says There’s A Link Between Hunger And Anger

 / 

, , ,
Being Hangry: Research And Science Says Hanger Is Real

Have you ever felt angry, irritated, cranky, or even furious when you have not eaten for a long time and are really hungry? If your answer is yes, then this is known as being hangry. And the interesting thing is that being hangry is a real thing, and even science has evidence of this.

Key Points

  • Being hungry can make you feel more irritable and angrier than you otherwise would.
  • This phenomenon, often referred to as “hanger,” can negatively affect your mood and interactions.
  • If left unaddressed, hanger can also have implications for your physical health, such as malnutrition.

A driver in the car next to yours yelled at you for seemingly no reason. Someone at the gym crankily made sure you knew they were annoyed at you for occupying the machine they wanted. A person in the supermarket didn’t return your smile; they instead threw shade at your friendliness.

People appear especially thin-skinned lately. Maybe that’s because it’s exceedingly hot weather in so many areas. Perhaps we lost some of our people skills (e.g., patience and tolerance) while being shut in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

People may still be feeling stressed and scared. Various factors probably play into the tense social interactions people may be experiencing, including “hanger” (hunger that influences anger).

Related: Is Being Hangry A Real Thing? Science Finds What Makes Us Cranky When Hungry

Being Hangry

As we all continue to emerge from the pandemic, some people are still struggling with food insecurity. Others are trying to lose their “Quarantine 15” or “fix” other body changes that happened during COVID, so they’re dieting. Both situations have hunger in common.

A recent research study—“Hangry in the Field: An Experience Sampling Study on the Impact of Hunger on Anger, Irritability, and Affect”—backed that “hangry” is a real thing, not just a trendy pop culture term. Though the condition hasn’t always been named “hanger,” it’s been described often in literature.

For example, a few of the mini-memoirs in my book, MeaningFULL: 23 Life-Changing Stories of Conquering Dieting, Weight, and Body Image Issues, depict it. One story asks readers to “think about when you experience being angry or irritable because of hunger.”

Did you just do that? If so, then you know firsthand that hunger can negatively influence mood and social interactions.

Being hangry and the science behind it
Is being hangry normal? The science of being hangry

About the “Hangry in the Field” study

The authors, Swami, Hochstöger, Kargl, and Stieger, summarize past research:

  • In humans, low blood glucose levels seem linked to increased impulsivity, anger, aggression, and difficulty with self-regulation. Further, it’s possible that hunger can skew an experience of something neutral to something more negative.
  • Also, in humans, the feeling of hunger is sometimes experienced as a negative emotion instead of a purely physical sensation, depending on the context.
  • In nonhumans, food deprivation has been shown to escalate aggressive behavior to gain food resources.
  • The experience of hunger can manifest in the additional symptoms of anger, irritability, restlessness, and nervousness.

Their current research takes the concept of hanger out of the lab and into real life. The researchers “examined associations between daily fluctuations in self-reported hunger and the experience of negative emotions.” Seventy-six participants completed at least one tailored survey per day for 21 days. Dietary behavior, anger, and eating motivation were each evaluated. Their conclusions?

  • Hanger “is real, insofar as hunger was associated with greater anger and irritability, and lower pleasure, in our sample over a period of three weeks.”
  • “We found that the associations between hunger and negative emotionality were stable even after controlling for demographic factors (participant age, sex), BMI, dietary behavior, and trait anger. This provides preliminary evidence that the link between hunger and negative emotions may be relatively robust across different social identity groups.”

It sounds like no one is inherently protected from experiencing hanger or having it negatively affect their experiences, moods, and interactions.

That said, there is an important warning here. According to the researcher Cynthia Bulik, some (not a majority) react to hunger as if it is anxiolytic; it feels calming. This response to hunger may leave a person vulnerable to anorexia nervosa—a devastating disorder that’s difficult to both experience and treat and has a high mortality rate. Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict to whom this will happen.

Related: 21 Health And Nutrition Myths Backed By Science

Bottom line

Being hungry comes with risks ranging from poor mood to negative interactions to potential malnutrition. Some don’t have a choice about how much or what they eat (e.g., those with food insecurity). On the other hand, some do but “control” their food intake to where it leaves them in states of hunger and irritability.

If you can afford to eat at regular intervals, steady food fuel can help your mood and interactions to stay out of the cranky realm. And if you feel (or are told) that you “should” lose weight, therapy can help sort through what’s truly in your best interest.

You deserve to find ways to experience less “hanger,” better health and increased positive (not hangry) social interactions.

Now, let’s return to the intro paragraph. The grumps in the car, at the gym, and in the supermarket? Maybe they’re hangry and do not mean to snap, huff, or puff at you. Though it’s not an excuse for the behavior, upsetting exchanges can feel less personal when we can consider potential explanations.

Want to know more about the connection between hunger and anger and the science behind being hangry? Check this video out below!

The link between hunger and anger: Is being hangry real?

References:

Bulik, C. (2014, December 1). Negative energy balance: A biological trap for people prone to anorexia nervosa. Exchanges: Blog of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders. https://uncexchanges.org/2014/12/01/negative-energy-balance-a-biologica…

Spotts-De Lazzer, A. (2021). MeaningFULL: 23 Life-Changing Stories of Conquering Dieting, Weight, & Body Image Issues. Unsolicited Press.

Swami, V., Hochstöger, S., Kargl, E., & Stieger, S. (2022). Hangry in the field: An experience sampling study on the impact of hunger on anger, irritability, and affect. PLoS ONE, (17)7. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0269629
Written By Alli Spotts-De Lazzer
Originally Appeared On Psychology Today
the science of being hangry
Eating habits and mental health
science behind being hangry
Being hangry

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

Rat Girl Summer: 5 Must-Follow Tips For Your Most Epic Summer Yet

Fun Rat Girl Summer Rules To Follow This Summer

This summer is going to be a little different, and a whole lot weirder. So say goodbye to hot girl summer (for now) and say hi to Rat Girl Summer.

Created by Lola Kolade, this new mindset encourages women to embrace chaos, snack on little bites and go against the rules in life.

“Rat Girl Summer” took the internet by storm as a movement to advocate authenticity and challenge beauty norms. It was all about celebrating imperfections and rebelling against the same old tired standards.

People who jumped on board were all about embracing what makes them unique, flaws and all. They’ve let go of caring about what’s trendy or in fashion, prioritizing comfort instead.



Up Next

The Psychology Behind Changing Hair Color: 7 Mood Boosting Benefits

Psychology Behind Changing Hair Color: Clear Benefits

Feeling a little blue lately? Why not dye your hair, and see if you feel better? There’s a psychology behind changing hair color, and it might be the mood boost you need.

Different colors evoke different emotions according to studies, they even impact our mental and physical well-being.

In an attempt to make ourselves happy again in this world full of constant change, altering our hair color can offer that fresh start feeling.

Imagine looking up at the sky after a bad day, the sunshine is yellow and so are happy colors such as orange, pink, red, etc. They all give off positive vibes that we all love. Even softer tones such as peach or lilac can uplift your spir



Up Next

10 Signs Your Home Has Good Feng Shui: Learn To Invite Positive Energy!

What Is Good Feng Shui At Home? Clear Signs To Know

Home is where the heart is, but do you have good vibes in your actual home? Get to know if you have good feng shui at home and start embracing that energy with the signs below!

What Is Good Feng Shui?

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art and science that aims to harmonize people with their environment. One of the core principles of this practice is to create a positive and balanced energy called chi in spaces like homes.

Although this may seem mysterious, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out if your home has good Feng Shui or not

Take a look at are ten good Feng Shui tips that can indicate whether your home is radiating positive energy<



Up Next

Feng Shui Colors — Use These 4 Colors For A Happy And Abundant Home

Best Feng Shui Colors To Use For Your Home

Everyone has a favorite color and certain shades that brighten our moods. In this article, we’re going to focus on four of the best Feng Shui colors that are said to attract wealth and abundance.

Colors have a big significance in the ancient art of Feng Shui. They can serve as conduits to emotional energies and natural elements. By using the power of feng shui colors, one can create an environment that lets wealth and success grow.

Are you ready to create a more prosperous atmosphere for yourself and your family? Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst feng shui colors to avoid!

Related:



Up Next

6 Therapeutic Japanese Words With Deep Meaning

Japanese Words With Deep Meanings That Bring Peace of Mind

Japan has figured out how to bring us tranquility. This country is full of therapeutic Japanese words with deep meanings that will make your soul feel at peace.

Living in a world that moves at the speed of light, it is so easy to get caught up in the chaos. Stress seems to be on every street corner and finding peace and serenity seems to be nothing more than a pipe dream.

These Japanese phrases with deep meaning gently remind us all to just slow down, take a deep breath, and find peace in the present moment. Each word carries its weight when it comes to finding harmony within oneself and achieving an unmatched sense of peace.

So let’s dive into six therapeutic Japanese words with deep meanings that can give you instant tranquility in this hectic world we live in!



Up Next

Plant Parenthood 101: How Caring For Plants Can Nourish Your Mental Health 

Ways Plant Parenthood Can Boost Your Mental Health

Have you ever wondered why so many people are embracing plant parenthood? It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s someone proudly displaying their thriving indoor jungle or posting pictures of their leafy companions on social media. 

But this trend is more than just a passing fad; it’s a movement that promotes not only the well-being of plants but also the mental health of humans. 

Let us explore the concept of plant parenthood, why caring for plants is important for both plants and humans, and learn how do plants help mental health.

What is Plant Parenthood?

Plant parenthood is the act of nurturing and caring for houseplants as if they were our o



Up Next

30+ Truths About Diet Culture, Eating Disorders, And The Process of Healing

Honest Truths About Diet Culture And Eating Disorders

Diet culture impacts so many people all over the world, and unfortunately, much of it’s impact is negative and harmful. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, then you’ve come to the right place. These truths about diet culture will help you understand it’s repercussions, and motivate you to live your life in a much healthier way.

If you are struggling with food or an eating disorder, these helpful points may offer you the nudge you need to change your relationship with food.

Related: Diving into Diet Culture Definition: 5 Startli