The conversations of life

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.

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.

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