Science says being ‘Hangry’ is a real thing


Do you get “hangry?” You know, it’s 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. “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.”

If you get hangry, you’ll probably relate to this humorous tweet, shared by Mathias Swann:

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).

This funny tweet, shared by Annika Wolters, might characterize how you feel when hangry:

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, well, the people around you will appreciate it, too.


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.

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. In order to keep ourselves feeling good, maximize absorption of nutrients and 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.

(Kids can get hangry, too, as shown in this Tweet from Nicole Nickers.)

Foods To Eat When You’re Hangry

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.

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. They also tend not to irritate the stomach.


2. Vegetables

Many vegetables are great for empty stomachs, especially if they are cooked, as they help 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. Instead, stick to other, easier-to-digest veggies, like carrots.

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

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.

Flickr | A. Blight

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. 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.

mango photo
Flickr | Jeffrey Beall

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.

oranges photo
Getty Images | Jack Taylor

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. Coffee drinks 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.

Now excuse me, I have to go eat something before I turn into the Hulk myself.

Curiosity, Health

About the Author
Jessica Suss
Current high-school English teacher, native Chicagoan, and nut butter enthusiast moonlighting as a writer.

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