Science says being ‘hangry’ is a real thing

Posted July 21
Updated July 24

Do you get “hangry”-that rage that only comes from being ravenously hungry?

Well, you’re not alone, and you’re not crazy, either.

It turns out that science says being hangry (hungry + angry) is a real thing.

So, if you turn into the Hulk when service is slow in a restaurant, you need to read this.

“In the brain we have neurons that will actually tell us to eat, and obviously when you eat, that is a sense of fulfillment and those neurons turn off,” Zane Andrews, an associate professor of physiology and neuroscientist who studies the effect of food on the brain at Monash University, told The Huffington Post Australia.

burger photo
Getty Images | Scott Olson

“However, if we don’t immediately have food those neurons will persistently fire and they will also engage other parts of the brain that regulate things like anxiety and mood.”

Translation: Your neurons get overzealous and that’s how hanger happens.

Andrews says that scientists think being hangry is really a combination of anxiety, grumpiness and frustration, but not necessarily aggressive “Hulk smash!” anger (although if this is you, that might be an issue).

Stop Hunger Before It Happens

So now that we know hanger is real, what can we do about it?

Well, the obvious solution is to eat before you get absolutely ravenously starving. It’s better for you… and for the people around you.

But if you’re already at hangry, eat thoughtfully. Your brain might be screaming for high-fat, high-sugar foods, but avoid that temptation.

Junk foods tend to create massive increases in blood glucose levels that come crashing down just as fast, leaving you just as cranky as before.

peanut butter photo
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

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Instead, reach for nutrient-rich, whole foods that will satisfy both your brain’s cravings for fat and your stomach.

Peanut butter, lean proteins, dark leafy greens and fruit are all good choices. Now excuse me, I have to go eat something before I turn into the Hulk myself.

The Best (And Worst) Foods To Eat On An Empty Stomach

When we think about diet, we usually tend to focus on what we eat, not how and when we eat it. However, good digestion is important to our health, and in order to keep ourselves feeling good, maximize absorption of nutrients and to keep everything in our body in balance, it’s useful to pay attention to how you eat certain foods.

That’s why it’s important to know what is best for your stomach-especially when it’s empty.

Whether you’re waking up first thing in the morning or haven’t eaten in hours after a long day, here are some of the best and worst foods for an empty stomach.

Foods To Eat

1. Nuts

Nuts are a great choice, especially if you are particularly hungry.

Choices such as almonds and walnuts are not only filling, but they are filled with heart-healthy fats and other important nutrients, and they tend not to irritate the stomach.

2. Vegetables

Many vegetables are empty-stomach friendly, especially if they are cooked, which helps reduce your chance of having gas later. If you’re sensitive to gas or bloating, steer clear of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, and stick to other, easier-to-digest veggies such as carrots.

3. Slice Of Cheese

If you’re someone who easily suffers from indigestion or heartburn, it’s good to have some dairy when there is nothing else in your tummy. If you’re sensitive to dairy, it can help to eat some crackers with your cheese to ease digestion.

RELATED: 6 Vegetables That Have The Most Protein For A Healthy Diet

Foods To Avoid

1. Spicy Foods

Spicy food sure is tasty, but it’s not so easy on the stomach when nothing else is in there. Food with heat can burn the inside lining of your stomach and cause indigestion, so it’s best to eat something else before you pour on the hot sauce.

2. Sugary Fruits

If you haven’t eaten food in a while, fruit may not be your best bet, since its natural sugars can cause a drastic spike and drop in your blood sugar levels. Fruits high in sugar include figs, oranges, grapes and mangos.

3. Citrus

In addition to their high sugar content, citrus fruits are also very acidic, which can be hard on the stomach. Citric acid, which is especially high in lemons and limes, can cause stomach cramps or pain, and in some cases, even nausea.

RELATED: 7 Snacks That Are Okay To Eat Before You Go To Bed

4. Caffeine

It’s not uncommon for people to have coffee or tea first thing in the morning, but you might want to wait until after breakfast to enjoy your favorite drink. Drinks like coffee can stimulate the production of acid, which, in the absence of food, can be damaging to the lining of the stomach. This can give you heartburn and indigestion, and without the presence of food, you’re more likely to feel a racing heartbeat or jitters from the caffeine.

This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for other great tips and ideas to make the most out of life.


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  • Tim Orr Jul 24, 5:56 p.m.
    user avatar

    Where can I get some GOVERNMENT money to study this obvious stuff?

  • Erika Phipps Jul 24, 2:39 p.m.
    user avatar

    Duh, anyone who ever lived in the same house with teenage girls already knew this!