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I’ve long been convinced that anybody who tells me they were “so busy I forgot to eat” is flat out lying. Anyone who complains of being “hangry,” however, that I can relate to.
Plenty of us use the term to describe that feeling of being so freaking hungry that you’re raging on the inside, but many assume that “hanger” is nothing more than a slang term, coined (probably) by Urban Dictionary with zero scientific basis.
Good news, my food-loving friends. According to scientists (one in particular), being “hangry” is, in fact, a real emotion that is triggered by our body’s physical response to craving food.
Sophie Medlin, a lecturer in nutrition and dietetics from King’s College in London, outlined the connection between hunger and irritability during a recent episode of BBC Radio’s Woman’s Hour, saying science has long recognized the link.
Medlin explained that hunger triggers a chemical response similar to anger for everyone, not just those who claim they need to be fed every hour. As our blood sugar drops due to irregular meals, our cortisol and adrenaline levels increase in the body. This physiological response sets off a “fight or flight” feeling in the brain, similar to the chemical reaction for anger.
“The wonderful world of social media has merged the two words for us and now we know it as ‘hanger,’” Medlin told BBC Radio. “The [chemicals in the brain] that trigger for hunger are the same ones that trigger for anger and rage and impulsive type behaviors.”
“So that’s why you get that sort of same response.”
If you need further proof that “hanger” is a legit emotional state, the word was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in January, along with “mansplain” and “snowflake.”
Medlin advises the best way to avoid the feeling is to snack between mealtimes, eating something like a savory carbohydrate to keep glucose levels up.
Thank you, science, for validating our very real need for constant snacks.
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