don’t be hangry

Let’s be honest, we all get hangry once in a while.

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It was fairly early on in our relationship when my fiancé (then boyfriend) experienced hangry Elle. One minute Rob had a sweet, doting girlfriend on his arm. A few minutes later, that sweet girlfriend turned into an irrationally mean, little blonde practically gnawing on his arm.

It’s been well documented that decreased blood sugar, even above what is considered true hypoglycemia, can lead to irritability and aggression. The brain, unlike other organs, needs glucose for energy, so it has every right to get hangry. We get glucose from carbohydrates, which make up a lot of the foods we eat  such as breads, cereals, pastas, legumes, fruits, certain vegetables and sweets. Can you imagine how hangry I was when I was on the Atkins Diet back in college? No carbs for over 2 weeks! Yikes.

Hunger cues, the grumbling of your stomach or feelings of hanger, are actually incredibly important because they help us maintain a neutral energy balance (energy in = energy out = weight maintenance). Unfortunately, with food so readily accessible and mealtimes scheduled down to the minute, we tend to override these hunger cues by eating when we’re not truly hungry. It’s actually quite common for someone not not feel hungry once throughout the day. Make that a habit and it’s easy to understand why people hate feeling hungry.

The reality is, hunger shouldn’t have such a negative reputation. Most of us are incredibly fortunate and don’t ever worry about feeding our brains finding our next meal. Did you know we actually have about 12-18 hours of glucose stores on board to keep our brain fed? If times truly get tough (we’re talking starvation here) our body can even make glucose out of things like muscle. There’s really no need to panic when our stomachs start to grumble!

It’s not always easy but I actually make an effort to feel hungry every day. I have learned to trust my body to tell me when it needs to be fed and I rarely feel guilty about indulging in a large meal (i.e. cheeseburger, fries and a tasty beer) if I wait to feel hungry before I eat again. I have weighed the same (+ or – a couple of pounds) for over 6 years now, since learning to listen to my hunger cues. Coincidence?

I’m going to propose a challenge. The next time you feel a bit hangry or your stomach growls loud enough to turn some heads, smile and try not to bite someone’s head off. Do whatever you gotta do to celebrate your hunger cues. It might seem easy but resisting the urge to chow down until you actually feel a bit hungry can be pretty tough, especially if you’re on a schedule, bored, stressed, or out socializing with friends.

Tell me, do you get hangry? I definitely think this is more of a female than male phenomenon, which is actually really interesting!

Do you associate hunger with negative feelings? When was the last time you felt hungry?

P.S. You’ll be happy to know Rob quickly caught on to my hangryness and now keeps granola bars in the glove compartment, just in case. It’s been a total relationship saver.

P.P.S. How cute is this hangry pillow!? Love Etsy.

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  • This is so refreshing to read. I went through a phase of about 2 years where I rarely felt true hunger. Those were a long couple of years, but since then I have learned to get excited over the little growl I get in my stomach- it’s crazy how happy you can feel from listening to your own body!

  • GREAT post! I just posted today about IF and a few links/thoughts to the different methods…super interested in it and learning lots! I’m discovering that I’m not needing to eat as often as I thought if I actually listen to my body. I appreciate your note about allowing yourself to get hungry – I think it’s important we do because we live in a world of such instant gratification and it becomes easy to confuse real hunger (and maybe sometimes we bring on the drama of being “hangry?” hmm…) with boredom or not true hunger. Thanks for your perspective!

  • love this post! I definitely get hangry and will get super irritable if I wait too long between meals. This especially tends to happen if I get too busy at work. I always keep quick and easy snacks on hand for this very reason. I do notice I associate being hungry with negative feelings sometimes but you’re right it’s a natural thing to be hungry! The trick is not letting hungry turn into hangry ;)

  • I always let myself feel hungry between every meal…It makes the next meal/snack so much more enjoyable! I have felt hangry the past few days (that time of the month!), but I actually cannot eat unless I feel legitimately hungry, not bored/tired etc. I am very in tune with my body, which I love :)

  • I DO get hangry! Sometimes I don’t eat enough at work and by the time I am home (after 45 minutes of traffic!) I am grumpy and hungry! I reeeally need to pack more snacks!! Great post :) And that pillow IS adorable!

  • Smart fiance : ) I think the key is being prepared in case the hanger strikes unexpectedly- I’ve coached my sister in this because she gets the worst case of the hangries haha.

  • My husband and I included funny bits in our wedding vows, and his was along the lines of feeding me when I get hangry instead of taking it personally (I am hypoglycemic, so I definitely get raging cases of the hangry if I go too long without eating!).

  • I love this post! I turn into a cranky monster when I get hangry too! I find upping the protein in my meals has helped the satiety factor too. Always good to have snacks on hand tho. Love that your fiance keeps them in his glovebox for you- good man!

  • This happened to me last night! I had my afternoon snack around 3pm and when I got home around 6:30 with no dinner prepped or any clue what I was going to make I felt STARVING and so irritable! I always know that when I am in those moods its definitely due to being hungry, even if I don’t have the grumbling feeling. I always try to keep snacks with me to avoid this!

  • Ha- that’s a great pillow! I definitely get hangry, but my husband sure does to! At least we know when the other is and can laugh about it and get some food ASAP.
    I’m glad Rob learned his lesson :)