Here’s how science just legitimised all your hangry moments

17 May 2018

WORDS BY Fashion Quarterly New Zealand


Lack-of-food rage blackouts aren’t an excuse anymore, thanks to science.

Hands up who’s ever been desperately in need of food and found themselves transform à la Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? As much as we all joke about ‘hanger’, deep down inside many of us know the struggle is real.

Though in the past some have been quick to define hanger as an excuse or a fictional feeling, the emotional state now has science – and the dictionary is on its side too, proving that in fact, it does exist. This year the addition of the word ‘hangry’ was placed into the Oxford English dictionary, describing the emotion as ‘a portmanteau of hungry and angry; to be bad-tempered or irritable due to hunger.’

And now any other remaining hangry sceptics have been cancelled out by science who also confirms the existence of this all-encompassing emotion. This intense feeling of hunger creates a spike in neuropeptide Y which is an amino-acid connected to feelings of aggression. *Light bulb moment!* This explains why our feeling of hanger or extreme hunger affects our negative emotions so strongly.


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“We’ve long recognised that hunger leads to irritability in science… When our blood sugars drop, cortisol and adrenaline rise up in our bodies – our fight or flight hormones,” said Sophie Medlin, a lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College in London, during a talk on the Woman’s Hour radio show on BBC Radio 4.

Medlin goes on to explain that this trigger releases small molecules which can alter the way our brains operate. “The ones that trigger for hunger are the same ones that trigger for anger and rage and impulsive behaviours… So that’s why you get the same sort of response.”

Well now, that explains everything!

So if you’re a hanger sufferer how do you deal with the issue? “It depends on how long it’s going to be until your next meal,” says Medlin. “Ideally you want something that’s going to bring your blood sugars up a little bit and also maintain them there. So a sort of savoury carbohydrate type snack would be the best thing to have.”

Words: Ella Francis
Photos: Pinterest


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