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6 Signs You’re Getting Hangry

6 Signs You’re Getting Hangry

When you start to feel these feels, it is time to eat

Hanger is treatable if you recognize the signs early enough.

1. twice.

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2. You gaze longingly at your coworker's cough drops.

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3. Little things that never bothered you are suddenly the worst things to have ever happened in your life.

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4. The sound of someone talking and not bringing you food is almost painful.

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5. You cannot make any decision that doesn’t involve a cheeseburger.

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6. You feel no guilt whatsoever about taking snacks that are not yours.

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The Science Behind Why You Get Hangry

You know the feeling: You were in a rush out the door and skipped breakfast, or maybe you have a huge dinner planned so you’re skimping on your usual afternoon snacks. Slowly but surely, your plain old hunger turns into a simmering grouchiness and you’re officially “hangry.”

While it’s not yet a valid defense in court, hanger is a real, physiological phenomenon. When the body is deprived of blood glucose — which happens when you haven’t eaten recently — the brain receives all kinds of signals to behave aggressively. Here’s what’s really going on when your empty stomach triggers that rage-y feeling in your head.

What Does It Mean When You’re Hangry?

We’ve all been there: You’re snapping at your partner and shooting death stares at the waiter who’s slow to take your order. But why? Well, as one study puts it, “Aggressive and violent behaviors are restrained by self-control. Self-control consumes a lot of glucose in the brain, suggesting that low glucose and poor glucose metabolism are linked to aggression and violence.” (Watch out, dinner companions.)

“Aside from potentially putting you in couples counseling (or…jail), a low blood sugar supply to the brain has other negative side effects.”

Exercising self-control all day long uses a lot of energy, largely in the form of glucose. As Medical News Today explains, our bodies break down food to make glucose, which helps the brain function. A simple shortage of this essential sugar (like when you haven’t eaten in the past, say, eight hours) can hamper the brain’s ability to exercise self-control, one study suggests.

But there’s more to it than that. Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, founder of Foodtrainers, a nutrition practice in NYC, adds, “The body tries to compensate when blood glucose decreases by releasing certain hormones.” These hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, increase aggressiveness, amping up your hangry behavior.

The Consequences of Getting Hangry

Your hanger can manifest in many ways. One study actually measured couples’ aggressive urges and behaviors by having them stick pins into a voodoo doll, or blast each other with an air horn through headphones. Researchers found that couples were more likely to behave aggressively toward each other when their blood sugar was low. Even crazier: In one study, researchers cited the Quolla Indians of Peru as historical evidence that hanger is for real. Plagued with chronically low blood glucose, the tribe had a reputation for violence. Unpremeditated murder was common!

Aside from potentially putting you in couples counseling (or…jail), a low blood sugar supply to the brain has other negative side effects, too, including fatigue and impaired concentration, say Slayton. Even if you don’t necessarily have an aggressive response to low blood sugar, you may not be firing on all cylinders.

How to Stop Hanger in Its Tracks

The best way to avoid getting hangry is to eat regularly. Slayton suggests a “four-hour rule” — never go more than four hours without something to eat. It’s important to note, Slayton adds, a genuine need to increase blood glucose is not necessarily associated with a grumbling stomach. So you should try to stay ahead of your hunger pangs. (Just stick to healthy snacks like these to avoid consuming too many calories.)

To maintain steady energy levels, foods that are high in slow-burning carbohydrates (like fiber), as well as protein, are your best bet. And while prevention is the best medicine here, you’re not totally up the creek if you missed a meal. Fruit, which offers the body lots of easily accessible sugars in addition to having other nutritional benefits, is a great choice for getting your brain a quick hit of energy, Slayton says.


1. You Aren't Getting Adequate Sleep

A night of poor sleep not only affects productivity, but also can make you hungry the next day. The reason is that inadequate sleep disrupts the body&aposs regulation of ghrelin and leptin, two hormones used by the body to tell us when to eat and when to stop eating. But a lack of sleep can disrupt the balance of these two, causing ghrelin (the one that triggers hunger) to increase and leptin (the one that triggers satiety) to decrease.

How to manage this hunger: It&aposs recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, so set this as a goal, even though it may not be possible every night. Also, being cognizant that hunger the next day may simply be due to a lack of sleep—not a true physiological need to eat—may help you make better food decisions.


Feeling lightheaded or shaky

(shaky hungry)

When the fuel from your previous meal or snack starts to run out, your blood sugar level drops and this sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to refuel.

If left too long, your blood sugar level will continue to drop and this can result in you feeling shaky and light headed – a sign your brain’s fuel level is getting critically low – a bit like one of those blaring alarms a pilot might get if he tries to fly longer than he planned.

This is generally a sign that you have entered the too hungry zone and you need to eat immediately.


Summary of Insulin Resistance and PCOS

Insulin resistance and PCOS often go hand in hand.

Insulin resistance causes excess androgens, which causes a lot of the horrible PCOS symptoms.

Longer term, insulin resistance can develop into Type 2 diabetes and put us at risk for all manner of nasty metabolic diseases. But it is reversible, so you need to address it now.

It needs to be diagnosed by blood tests from your doctor, but some signs that you may be insulin resistant include:


Is your child hangry? The connection between hunger and tantrums

Toddler tantrums can strike at any point – in the grocery store, in the shopping centre or even just as you’re lounging around at home.

There can be many different causes for a tantrum too. Lack of sleep is normally one of the first things to spring to mind, along with being uncomfortable or upset in a situation. But have you ever thought your toddler might be having a tantrum because of their hunger and nutrition?

Ah yes, hangry. I bet you’ve felt hangry before (that awful combination when hungry turns into anger) and welcome to one of the biggest influencing factors to toddler tantrums that I see frequently in my clinic.

The food we eat and the nutrients we choose to sustain ourselves and our children with has a big impact on our emotions. I go into depth in my book about how sugar, for example, can contribute to a range of long-term health problems such as diabetes, obesity and immune deficiency, but what about the short-term issues?

The almost instant impact of the sweet stuff is a sugar rush (we’ve all been there). This is when blood sugar levels spike and children experience an energy increase. Following this, is the dreaded come down – the crash and burn – and this is where the tantrums often kick-in.

For this reason, it’s important to try and ensure your child’s diet contains a wide variety of nutrient-dense and calm-inducing foods. Here are my top tips on how to tackle those hunger tantrums – before they hit:

Ensure your child is satiated.

Avoiding hunger-induced tantrums doesn’t start when your child begins to get grizzly, it starts by ensuring your child is properly satiated at mealtimes. Mealtimes and snacks should be both filling and nutritious, packed with a variety of healthy fats, proteins and veggies so there’s less room for tantrums to sneak their way into your day.

In my book, I have dedicated chapters on how to boost protein and increase healthy fats, as well as many family-friendly recipes that include a delicious combo of the two food groups. Try these tasty Salmon and Millet Rissoles or my Coconut Lamb Meatloaf which will ensure your child is firing on all cylinders.

Not only do these meals work wonders to control your child’s appetite, but they’re also packed full of nutrients and fat-soluble vitamins to improve bone strength and boost immune function. Win, win.

Preempt hunger attacks.

Often children don’t register their hunger, so it pays to know the warning signs of a hunger attack and address it before it escalates. While you know your child better than anyone, some of the most common signs to look out for are…

  • Continual whining which is out of character,
  • Aggression towards other children or toys,
  • Signs of tiredness – yawning, rubbing their eyes,
  • Asking for food or snacks in between their normal eating routine.

Once you can identify these signs for your child, it’s a lot easier to remedy the situation with snacks or their next meal before it turns into a tantrum.

Always arm yourself with nutritious snacks.

Mums are magicians at packing a fool-proof bag that contains everything you could possibly need for any situation. With that in mind, don’t let snacks slip. If you know your child is prone to tantrums when you’re out at the shops or in the car, make sure you have healthy snacks on hand.

Some of my favorite and easily transportable snacks are…

Look for hidden food preservatives and additives.

Many food additives or preservatives can cause your child to experience hyperactivity, lack of concentration, tummy issues and even induce irritability and tantrums. As these are typically found in pre-packaged foods such as vegetable oils, margarine, baked goods and cordials it’s my advice to leave as many of these on the shelf as possible. I go into depth in my book about how to best avoid these nasties.

Move over food coloring.

Artificial food colorings have been studied for years for their link to hyperactivity and irritability in children, with some countries even taking matters into their own hands and banning synthetic colorings altogether.

This one can be easy to spot as they’re typically found in processed, colored foods. But, avoiding colorings doesn’t mean it’s time for boring food. In fact, I’ve developed a Natural Rainbow Cake recipe which can be found in my book (page 281), which is completely colored with natural ingredients.

Check for Sodium Benzoate.

Sodium Benzoate is another commonly used preservative that’s been linked to hyperactivity and inattention in children. It’s actually used to hide that ‘processed taste’ some foods may have and can be specifically found in orange products like soda, cordial and juices. Keep your eyes peeled for it on product labels, or simply start to reduce processed orange products.

Although the jury is still out on the evidence suggesting that these can impact your child’s behavior, there is enough reason to reduce your child’s intake and watch for signs of improvement.

Boost Omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s have been proven to improve mood disorders, so if your child is prone to regular tantrums, it’s a good idea to increase their intake of omega-3’s in order to bring a sense of calm. Some easy additions to their diet are chia seeds which you could whip up in my Mango Chia Pudding (page 197 of my book), flaxseeds which make scrumptious Flaxseed Crackers (page 185 of my book) or even salmon in these Tasty Salmon and Millet Rissoles.

Include stress-reducing foods.

You may want to start introducing foods which reduce stress and help calm your child as a preventative method. Here are my favorite stress-busting foods:

  • Spinach – Leafy greens are packed with magnesium to regulate cortisol levels and boost serotonin. These delish Beet and Spinach Bliss Balls will do the trick, just make sure you blend the spinach finely and your child won’t even know there’s any in there.
  • Blueberries – Berries are a superfood packed with antioxidants like vitamin C to help our bodies ease stress. Try my Cinnamon Bunny Biscuits with Blueberry Filling, or use berries as the perfect stress-busting topping to your morning oatmeal.
  • Asparagus – This green veggie is great for increasing levels of folic acid which can improve the mood of little ones and even ease depression symptoms. Add this powerful veggie to your stews, soups or roast veggies.
  • Almonds – Munching on some almonds throughout the day or when you preempt a tantrum can help to support the immune system, and ease stress and tension. You could even swap out their peanut butter sandwiches for almond butter instead.

If you’ve made sure your child is properly nourished and they’re eating plenty of satiating protein and fats, there could be an underlying issue. If you’re concerned, we recommend seeing your GP or contacting Mandy for a consultation.


How to spot the signs of chronic inflammation:

Chronic inflammation can reveal itself in a variety of way, but these 10 signs are the most common in my experience.

  1. You have a “spare tire” around your waist: Fat cells in the abdomen churn out inflammatory chemicals—and the more belly fat you have, the more of these chemicals they create. In fact, cardiovascular medicine expert Peter Libby, MD, calls belly fat a “hotbed” of inflammation.
  2. You have high blood glucose levels: High blood sugar increases the numbers of inflammatory cytokines circulating in your blood. It also increases your levels of destructive molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are pro-inflammatory.
  3. You have digestive problems like gas, diarrhea, bloating, or constipation: These can stem from a sick, inflamed, overly permeable gut—and a leaky gut that allows toxins to escape into your bloodstream is one of the leading cause of chronic, body-wide inflammation. 
  4. You're tired all the time: Inflamed cells are sick cells, and they can’t produce the energy you need to feel refreshed and invigorated. As a result, you feel fatigued even when you first get out of bed—and by afternoon, you’re exhausted.
  5. You have skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, or your skin is red and blotchy: This could be an external sign of internal fire. (This is why there’s a powerful link between psoriasis and inflammatory conditions that manifest internally, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.)
  6. You have allergies: If you’re always battling watery eyes and a runny nose, you could be chronically inflamed.
  7. Your face is puffy, or you have puffy bags under your eyes: This is a common sign of internal inflammation.
  8. You have gum disease: This is another outward clue of internal inflammation.
  9. You're depressed, anxious, or suffering from “brain fog": Inflammation could affect your brain chemistry, causing changes in how you think and feel.
  10. If you’re a man, you have erectile dysfunction: Chronic inflammation could be a cause of this problem.

How to eat more vegetables

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If you didn't know, research has found that fresh and frozen veggies are equally healthy, so either of those options are worthwhile solutions to eating more vegetables. For more ways to fit vegetables into your diet, Ansari has a few tips:

Breakfast: Add veggies to your morning omelet or egg sandwich. You can also add veggies like spinach to your breakfast smoothie.

Lunch: Add more veggies to your turkey or hummus wrap or pair a sandwich with a side of veggies and your favorite dip.

Dinner: Focus on making 1⁄2 of your plate filled with color! "I love roasting veggies or putting together a leafy green salad and adding fruit to it."

If you can't follow these tips, then you need to know what will happen next: What Happens to Your Body When You Don't Eat Fruits & Veggies.


Exercise helps cells in your muscles take up more glucose in order to use it for energy and tissue repair and lowers blood sugar in the process. Long term exercise also makes cells more responsive to insulin and helps prevent resistance. Try to get your heart rate up and sweat at least 3 times a week.

A lack of sleep can raise stress and appetite hormones (cortisol and ghrelin) that make you hungry. This makes it harder to say no to those sugary snacks, so be sure to get your Zzz's!

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Courtney is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, Ontario who loves educating others on the healing powers of food.