Decoding the ‘Hangry’ Myth

hungryEver wondered why you are feeling bad tempered and irritable for no reason? Sometimes, something as simple as a malfunctioning mobile phone application sets you off in fits of rage. Turns out it could be because you’re not irrationally angry- you’re just hungry or ‘hangry’. HEALTH speaks to New Atkins Lifestyle nutritionist Linda O’Byrne who further explains.


Being ‘hangry’ is defined as being irritable and ill-tempered as a result of hunger and it turns out that being ‘hangry’ is quite a common phenomenon after all. According to O’Byrne, people often
get hungry and angry because of a severe drop in blood sugar levels, as well as over-consumption of sugar and processed carbohydrates. She explains, “When you have gone too long between meals, your blood sugar levels drop and this can lead to you feeling very emotional.” Eating foods high in sugar can spike blood sugar levels; leading to crashes in energy, drop in mood, and weight gain.


O’Byrne highlights that sugar is not needed in the diet – in any form. “Sugar has no nutritional value. You can get all the complex carbs your body needs from foods that are very low in sugar such as vegetables and pulses,” she tells. “Even athletes don’t need sugar. When you reduce carb intake, your body switches to burning fat for fuel which is more efficient as you have thousands of calories worth of energy from fat; compared to a few hundred calories worth from carbohydrates. This means your workout will be more efficient and intense.”

The Solution

O’Byrne points out that the only cure for this phenomenon is to eat regularly, and keep blood sugar stable, which in turn, tends to stabilize mood and increase energy. “Sometimes, people assume that irritable behavior and mood swings are the body’s method of signaling for carbohydrates,” she says, however, she busted this myth by stating that carb consumption when the blood sugar is low leads to only temporary satiation of the body’s needs. Replacing unhealthy sugars with healthy options Strong tasting foods – such as cheese, olives and some meats – help to cure a sugar
craving, explains O’Byrne. “Make sure you’re hydrated too as being dehydrated can often be confused for hunger so have a large glass of water and decide if you’re really hungry, then make a healthier choice than a sugar laden snack,” she advises.

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