Do you get ‘hangry’? Here’s how to stop it, science says

Science has already proved that being ‘hangry’ – feeling bad-tempered or irritable when we’re hungry – is a real thing. 

Now researchers at the University of North Carolina say you can stop yourself from blowing your top when you’re hungry. 

They asked people – hungry and full – to judge a series of negative, positive and neutral images. Hungry people didn’t react to the positive or neutral images – but when they looked at the negative pictures, they rated them as more unpleasant than the full people. 

In short, you’re more likely to become hangry in negative situations – such as being stuck in a traffic jam or dealing with a rude customer – where you’re not focused on your own feelings. 

Taming the beast (literally) 

So how can you fix ‘hanger’? The researchers offer three tips: 

  • Seems obvious, but pay more attention to your hunger – plan ahead by bringing snacks or packing lunch and set reminders to eat before you end up being ravenous. 
  • If you’re already hungry and can’t eat for whatever reason, do something positive such as listening to music or a podcast. 
  • Take a minute to step back and realise that being hungry is part of why you feel upset – before you jump down someone’s throat. 

Makes sense – now I just need to remember it next time I’m stuck in Sydney traffic. 

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A special thanks to our contributors

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Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

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Ian Horswill

Journalist

Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

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Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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Jill Donaldson

Physiotherapist

Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

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Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

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Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.