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Associated Physicians, LLP
Can’t focus? Annoyed by absolutely everything? Can’t stop thinking about that commercial where they slowly pull a super cheesy slice of pizza away? Well, then you might be hangry! In honor of National Nutrition Month, we are going to give you a little more information on this curious reaction to hunger and what you should do about it!

What is hanger?

Hanger is no longer a colloquial term made from the combination of “hunger” and “anger,” but instead a well-researched mental and physiological response to a drop in your body’s blood glucose levels.  Your brain is completely dependent on glucose to function. Any disruption in these levels can send your body straight into survival mode. For you, this means, lack of concentration or coordination and even trouble finding or articulating words. Hanger is really just your body’s way of saying:

When this survival mode begins, your body tries to compensate for the perceived starvation by instructing a few key organs to release hormones that increase the levels of glucose in your bloodstream. In addition to this, it releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are responsible for your irritability during bouts of hunger. That’s not all though. Your genes also make you intensely angry while hungry! Your body releases a chemical called neuropeptide Y, which acts on the Y1 receptor in your brain. When you’re hungry, these two working together will make you hungrier, angrier, and more impulsive. The takeaway from this? Feed your body regularly. It worries about you.

What should I eat when I’m hangry?

I know that pizza sounds realllllllllllllly good right now and you might even be rationalizing eating last week’s potluck potato salad in the break room fridge, right? DON’T DO IT! These items are classified as simple or refined carbohydrates which will flood your system with glucose, temporarily curing the hanger, but eventually will cause a monumental glucose crash and send you right back into being hangry. 

It’s pretty easy to assume which junk-food-esque items would do the same, but did you know that even some seemingly “better choices” can have the same effect? According to Women’s Health, this list includes wheat or multigrain bread (marketing trick in many instances), instant oatmeal, hard pretzels, white rice, croutons, and breakfast cereals and bars.

The best option is to find something high in fiber, protein, and good fats. A healthy mix of these things will help prevent those huge rises and falls in your blood sugar levels and sustain you a little longer until your next meal. Dietician, Mary Lamon-Smith, shared with us her top five yummy ideas for nutrient rich snacks that you can turn to the next time you’re hangry!
  1. Whole grain toast with sliced tomato and avocado
  2. Plain Greek yogurt with ¾ -1 cup blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries
  3. Fresh vegetables with ½ cup hummus
  4. Small-medium apple with ¼ -1/3 cup mixed nuts
  5. 1 cup whole grain, low sugar cereal with 4-6 ounces of low-fat milk or unsweetened soy milk
All things considered, just remember…

As always, AP is here to support you in any way we can. We even have our own in-house dietician, Piri Kerr, R.D., if you are struggling with your nutritional health! To schedule with Piri or any of our other wonderful providers, give us a call at (608) 233-9746.
Before you go, have you checked out our other articles? We write monthly articles about relevant health and wellbeing topics to keep you healthy, happy and informed. We also have interviews with our doctors, tips and tricks, and lots more! Click below to read on!
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