For years I felt original for using what I thought was my own word to describe how cranky, snippy, and sassy I get when I haven’t eating in a long time. The word is “hangry”, a fusion between hungry and angry, and it describes pretty perfectly the mood that affects many of us when we have low blood sugar. Hearing the first few people use my word was exciting and unifying, like we were apart of the same witty food-pun club! But lately I’ve been hearing it more than ever, so I am reluctant to admit that perhaps I did not, in fact, invent the word hangry. (I’m also being overdramatic, so perhaps I am currently hangry.)
At any rate, science has recently solidified the use of this word: A new study shows that being hangry is a real thing, or at least proves that being hungry definitely affects a person’s mood.
Researchers from Ohio State University set out to prove that low blood sugar is indeed the underlying cause of hunger-induce crankiness. (Read the full NPR report here.) But they didn’t just want to look at how strangers interacted, they wanted to know how we treat our loved ones when we’re hangry, so they studied spouses. 107 couples were recruited for the study and each given voodoo dolls.
What? Voodoo dolls?
Yes, each participant was given a voodoo doll and told the doll represented their spouse. The dolls were to be used each night before going to bed: participants were instructed to stab the doll with pins to reflect how angry they were with their spouse. “The more pins in the doll, the angrier they were with their spouse,” Brad Bushman, PhD a psychologist who co-authored the study, told NPR. At around the same time the dolls were being poked and prodded, so were the study participants: Their blood sugars were measured and—no surprise here—volunteers who had lower blood glucose levels stuck more pins in the voodoo dolls than those who had high blood glucose levels. In layman’s terms, “Hangry” people stuck TWICE as many pins in the dolls compared to people with more sugar in their blood.
Based on these findings, researchers concluded that glucose is the food for the brain. Of course, blood sugar isn’t the only factor that contributes to someone’s hanger-level (being stuck in a mall, car, or a line at the post office surely help aggravate the situation) but being out of fuel makes it harder for the brain to control emotions.
Take away message? Never discuss important things on an empty stomach. Have a healthy snack first, one that combines complex carbohydrates and protein like these Pumpkin Walnut Snack Muffins, take a deep breath, then talk it out. Your loved ones and (their voodoo dolls!) will thank you.